Opinions and bullets
One of my early bosses was an opinionated fellow a decade older than me who owned one rifle-– a British-made Parker-Hale in .280 Remington. His total hunting experience was based on shooting a handful of deer and some antelope. I don’t think he ever shot an elk, and certainly not a moose, bear or sheep.
One time he told me he never uses Remington Core-Lokt bullets because one time he lost a doe when a bullet “came apart.” Well, the truth was he never recovered the deer so he just surmised that the bullet failed. Knowing bosses as well as I did, even in that long ago time, I bit my tongue and didn’t tell him what I thoughtthat he made a poor shot on the animal, and the fault was his—not that of the bullet.
Interestingly, a year earlier my father embarked on a hunting trip to Northwest Territories, where after the airlines managed to break the stock of his .300 Weatherby at the grip, he was forced to use his old Model 740 Remington in .280 with… you guessed it—150-grain Remington Core-Lokt bullets.
He shot a black wolf, a grizzly bear, a Dall ram and a mountain caribou bull with no bullet failures. I have used many different brands of big game bullets over the last 55-plus years, but I shoot Nosler Partitions and Hornady Spire-Points in most of my rifles; a Speer bullet in my .25/06 and a Sierra in my .280. I have never had any bullet failures. I have lost a few animals over the decades, but that always has been because of poor bullet placement on my part.
Being a traditionalist, I never have made the step to all-copper bullets. One of my friends has done so, and says he shot three elk and ten deer during the last decade with the Barnes bullet and was very happy with it. Dave added that the only reason he shoots copper bullets is because the guy who reloads his ammunition for him reloads copper bullets.
That is when I told him about an article I had read by a retired DNR conservation officer from Minnesota who decried the use of lead-core bullets, and during a deer hunt with his 13-year- old
daughter, told stories of leadpoisoned eagles, and made the case that all big game hunters should be using all-copper bullets.
“That’s a common ‘green’ opinion,” Dave said. (Dave, by the way, is a retired mule deer research biologist, a life-long hunter and a Democrat.) “A well-constructed big game bullet will not disintegrate when it strikes an animal.”
My thoughts exactly…it zips through an animal, entering the rib cage on one side and exiting the other. Sometimes one finds the mushroomed bullet beneath the hide on the off side.
I talked to two other biologist friends and a fourth guy who does more big game hunting in one season than most hunters do in a decade.
One guy said lead poisoning of eagles was largely a non-issue. One biologist, who uses 130-grain Speer bullets (lead-core) in a 7mm-08 almost exclusively, also dismissed the notion that eagle poisoning from lead bullets was a wide spread problem. One biologist named Arnie, said it would be possible for it to be a problem if dozens of hunters shot great numbers of deer in a very small area. Arnie too uses lead-core bullets.
After talking with these guys, it occurred to me that I have been eating elk hearts and livers for three decades, moose heart and liver when I shot my two moose, and for decades I fed deer hearts and livers to eight different dogs who lived long, healthy lives. None of us ever had lead poisoning problems.
It got me to thinking about the sea of windmills I have seen pop up in the West and Midwest during the past dozen years. There, my friends, is the real danger to eagles, yet we don’t read anything about it because it doesn’t fit the liberal, “green” narrative like lead-core bullets do.
Contact Bernie Kuntz at b.kuntz@