concerning pellets in game birds...


June 30, 2009, 04:56 PM
Ill be going upland hunting this fall for the first time and will hopefully bag some birds. I would of course like to cook and eat 'em, but is there any concern with lead pellets in the meat? Is there a way to get them all out or do you just have to live with it and chew carefully?

I wouldnt want to crack a tooth or ingest lead fragments, etc.

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June 30, 2009, 05:08 PM
No problems I know of just clean all you can before cooking and all is well. A joking hunter told a non hunter that if she ate a deer that someone gave her she could get lead poisoned. I thought that was funny when I heard it the first time, she really though she would be lead poisoned and had deer packeage and in freezer a guy had given her. After asking around about the lead she was pleasently surprized and headed for the joking hunter to pay him back.

June 30, 2009, 08:52 PM
you don't mention the type of game bird, but i do quite a bit of pheasant hunting and pellets in the meat is common. if you use steel shot, there is a real possibility of busting a tooth - not as much threat w/ lead.

shoot your pheasant, and step on its wings, pull its feet. put the winged part in your cooler, cut your drumsticks off what's in your hand if you want them, in the cooler. when you get back to something resembling a kitchen, get the wings off and skin out your meat, put it in cold water in the sink. after 20 or so minutes of soaking you will quickly be able to see where the pellets went thru the bird. explore those passages for pellets, and remove any you find. you are now very unlikely to find any pellets in your cooked bird.

as for ingesting 'em, i guess i don't get concerned about it. if i eat a pellet or two, i'm sure they come out the other end in a day or so...? anyway, i don't have any lead-related health issues.

June 30, 2009, 09:23 PM
ill be hunting pheasant on a upland preserve, maybe do some wild grouse hunting too but i hear they are very elusive.

are there any recipes for a pheasant stew or soup of some sort? I figure if I shred the meat for some kind of soup there would be less risk of missing a pellet. I only worry about it because I dont have dental insurance at the moment.:o

I guess ill just give it a good thorough cleaning and eat carefully.

June 30, 2009, 09:29 PM
i do big game cooking - my wife and mom do all the pheasant cooking, so no help there - sorry.

if you use 4 or 6 shot you'll be in pretty good shape, really. using 7-1/2 or 8-shot will be a mess; pellets everywhere. i like 6-shot for pheasant hunting, and very rarely deviate from that. seems to be the best combination of not blowing up birds and reducing pellets in the bird. preserve birds typically flush close, so choose your shots carefully.

June 30, 2009, 09:54 PM
High speed 3 steel will shoot right through a duck at under 40 yards. I rarely find a pellet, but you do learn to chew gingerly. :D

June 30, 2009, 10:22 PM
step on its wings, pull its feet

I love that trick!!

Usually, the lead pellet will also push in some feathers, and if the meat is skinned it is obvious where the pellets are. Pheasant is so good you might want to savor it and chew slowly anyway.

Bud Tugly
June 30, 2009, 10:24 PM
When I first started grouse hunting I used a 12 gauge with 7 1/2 shot on the theory that the more pellets the better my chances of getting a bird. After shooting a few and having to pick 50-60 pellets out of them I wised up.

I switched to a 20 gauge an even a .410 using #6 shot and found that 3-4 central body hits were plenty to bring down a grouse and made it a lot more pleasant to prepare for the table. I've never hunted pheasants but they're slightly larger than grouse, so it may take more to bag them.

More firepower is not always a good thing.

July 1, 2009, 01:32 PM
I had to get x rayed the day after eating a nice squirrel meal(meal not reason for x ray) and they actually found the pellets in the xray... I don't remember eating anything hard but oh well... I'm fine... and I have the x rays to prove it...

July 1, 2009, 01:51 PM
I use a small pair of forceps when cleaning and washing game.

Often times you will find a lead shot balled up with a bunch of feathers stuck around it.

Pretty simple to pull out the whole mess with forceps.

As for field cleaning pheasants, be sure to follow your states F&G regs.

Many places require you to leave a foot or wing attached to prove it is a rooster pheasant and not a hen.


Bwana John
July 1, 2009, 03:44 PM
High speed 3 steel will shoot right through a duck at under 40 yards
Yea, and it will bounce off at 45 yards;)

July 1, 2009, 03:57 PM
Guy gave me a goose last fall and it was all shot to hell. I found so many pellets in it wasn't funney. There were a lot just under the skin on the far side but still ran into a few well eating it. I saved them and will give them back to him this fall when he wakes me up in the morning shooting outside my bedroom window again.

July 1, 2009, 07:43 PM
With grouse, woodcock and pheasant I do the same out the breasts and hammer them with a meat mallet till they're about an eighth to a quarter inch thick. You will see any and all pellets left. Throw some butter and some onions in a skillet along with the breast patties, a little salt and pepper and in five minutes or less you're eatin'.

July 1, 2009, 09:08 PM
Chew with caution. I once broke a filling on a piece of birdshot (I was hungry). When I was a kid Mom cooked up some steaks. I chomped down on a piece and found a buckshot pellet (It was storebought too).

July 1, 2009, 09:31 PM
thanks for all the tips fellas!

July 1, 2009, 10:14 PM
High speed 3 steel will shoot right through a duck at under 40 yards

Yea, and it will bounce off at 45 yards

See, that's what the call and the deeks are for. If he's 45 or 50, swing him back around with the proper calling for a better look.:)

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