What Type Of Shotgun Pellets Are Allowed For Waterfowl Hunting In The U.S.?

What Type Of Shotgun Pellets Are Allowed For Waterfowl Hunting In The U.S.? On the onset of a cool weather in the U.S, hunters get prepared to go to the wetlands hoping to be lucky to shoot down some birds. However, it is at this time when the conservation officers take vigil to deal with illegal shot-shell use.

Often, hunters tend to find themselves wide of the mark of the law in United States as they enjoy waterfowl hunting spree.  Most hunters protest and accuse the officers of discrimination when they are booked, while others let go their hunting activities. What they don’t realize is that they have broken the law.

How Can One Get Criminalized In A Legal Activity?

A national wide study conducted in the U.S revealed that lead shots poison millions of fresh-water birds like ducks and geese. The research suggested that the heavy buildup of lead pellets is the culprit for poisoning.

A subsequent study conducted after the banning of the use of lead pellets in wetlands showed that a fair number of the pool birds were saved. As a result, a law was enacted discouraging the use of lead pellets.

The criminalization of lead pellets use rubbed hunters the wrong way, with many complaining that the alternative wasn’t as effective as lead.

Steel pellets were recommended by the U.S Fish and Wildlife regulating bodies. But most hunters complained that steel was lighter than lead thus didn’t travel as far when fired.

For the most part, their complaints are sensible. Even so, the advance in technology has led to the creation of steel shot pellets which perform just as good as lead.

Plus, modern steel pellets are 100% non-polluting and thus safe for the Mother Nature.

It might delight you to know that waterfowl hunting in the US isn’t illegal, but the use of wrong pellets is punishable by law. As a shotgun holder, always keep this in mind to avoid unnecessary retribution.  

We’d love every aspiring hunter to enjoy their hunting escapades while being on the safe side of the law. As a warning, avoid carrying lead shot pellets when you go out to hunt waterfowls.

Sure enough, these types of pellets are allowed for hunting other animals like deer. But using them in wetlands is not permissible. It’s been proven that these pellets cause lead poisoning when they get into the water.

Are steel shotgun pellets the only ones allowed? Of course not!

 Below is a breakdown of other shotgun pellets allowed for waterfowl hunting.

Shotgun Pellets Allowed For Waterfowl Hunting In The United States – What Type Of Shotgun Pellets Are Allowed For Waterfowl Hunting In The U.S.?

1. Steel

After the ban of lead, hunters showed displeasure with steel accusing it of having limited effective range, being offset by high velocity, and damaging the older shotguns – and even the classic shotguns!

Owing to these complaints, manufacturers have rolled up their sleeves and made significant improvements on their steel pellets. Among the most prominent advancements include:

  • Increasing the velocity of the shots
  • Steel loads have been made to be faster than the previous versions without causing excessive chamber pressure. The features are intended to overcome steel’s problem with retaining adequate energy.

It’s worth noting that increasing the size of your shotgun pellets is recommendable when using the steel pellets. The bigger the size of the shotgun pellets, the higher the performance.

Admittedly, steel is more expensive than lead, but the perks that come with it are worth the investment. Steel is considered the safest shotgun pellets for use in wetlands, because it doesn’t poison the environment.

Besides the steel pellets, the U.S Fish and Wildlife has come up with other pellets which are poised to be more superior than lead.

These loads are not only safe for the environment but also for use in both modern and old shotguns. Note that most of these options are made from metal alloys, so they’re slightly expensive compared to steel.

2. Tungsten

Tungsten is a safe alternative to steel for waterfowl hunting, not only in the US but across the globe. So, whenever steel loads are out of reach, grab tungsten loads and get started with your waterfowl hunting escapade.

Tungsten is denser than lead and will deliver impressive results. Worth noting, tungsten is a bit expensive, and you’ll likely cough out some good cash.

shotgun pellets are allowed for waterfowl hunting

3. Bismuth

Bismuth shots are good alternatives for hunters using vintage shotguns. These guns may not be able to withstand the hardness and velocity of tungsten or steel shots.

When it comes to density, bismuth is 14% less dense than lead.

Therefore, when you are looking for loads with the same characteristics as lead, this is the best choice for you. Its ballistic features are pretty much identical to what lead has on offer.

Also, it has a great downrange energy that gives you a perfect shot. Bismuth loads are relatively cheaper than tungsten loads but more expensive than steel.

As aforementioned, using the allowed gears when you go out for waterfowl hunting is highly encouraged. These gears include the use of non-toxic shotgun pellets which do not contaminate the environment.

There are several dangers of using poisonous pellets like lead. Let’s cut to the chase and quickly have a sneak peek of the risk of using lead shotgun pellets.

Dangers of Using Lead For Hunting Waterfowls

Weakening of the immune system

Lead affects the health of the waterfowls in a negative approach. Once the birds swallow these pellets and get into their system, the birds’ immune system becomes weak. The bird becomes prone to illness and may eventually succumb to poisoning.

Dangers of Using Lead For Hunting Waterfowls

Epidemic outbreak

Lead pellets can quickly initiate an epidemic. An epidemic arises when sick birds infect the healthy ones and cause a menace.

Research indicates that one bird with symptoms of poisoning can transmit the disease to as many as five waterfowls. This indicates that lots of birds are likely to die from lead-related causes.

Lead poisoning in the aquatic environment can drastically slash down the number of waterfowls. When there is an epidemic, the population of the birds will dramatically reduce.  

Furthermore, their rate of reproduction will be in a weak position, and could end up in a population loss.

My Takeaway

As an avid waterfowl hunter myself, I always encourage my fellow hunting enthusiasts to be on the safe side of the law. The laid-out law is crystal clear – ALWAYS use non-toxic shotgun pellets for waterfowl hunting.

Lead pellets, though cheaper and readily available, are harmful to birds’ health. That’s my takeaway today!

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