Non-toxic options for turkeys?

Dougfirtree

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My family has been lead-free for big game hunting the last few years. I feel good about that and we've had good success with copper bullets. But, the two areas where I've been slower about change are upland birds and turkeys. I have found that steel 4's work well for pheasants and I am going to experiment a bit with steel 6's for grouse. I'd love to ditch the lead for turkeys too, but man, those prices....!

Those of you who have gone non-toxic for turkeys: are you just paying $5-10.00 per shell, or have you come up with other solutions? I've got half a mind to try patterning some Bismuth duck loads through a turkey choke. I can't imagine I wouldn't be able to shoot those 30-40 yards. Anyone shooting steel for turkeys? I'd love to hear about any creative solutions you've come up with. I don't think I can stomach paying $50.00 for a box of 5 turkey loads...
 

Sask hunter

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I’m not a turkey hunter but I have shot thousands of geese and a handful of coyotes with 2 steel. Just get them in the head. I would think under 35 yards you could get away with 4 steel even since you are head shooting them.
 

winmag

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TSS at $5-$10 a shell will still be the cheapest consumable expense of your hunt. That's 2-3 gallons of gas, and you probably drive farther than that to your hunt area.

If I wanted non-toxic and didn't want to buy TSS then Bismuth #4's would work. But Bismuth is still quite expensive.

Don't bother with steel. The fact that hevi-shot even makes a steel turkey load is a joke.

Some lethality ballistics, based on needing 1.5" of penetration to kill a turkey:
- Muzzle velocity 1200fps
- Solve for how far a given pellet will penetrate 1.5" of ballistics gelatin.

#2 Lead: 85 yards
#4 Lead: 61 yards
#5 Lead: 50 yards
#6 Lead: 40 yards

#2 Bismuth: 64 yards
#4 Bismuth: 44 yards
#5 Bismuth: 35 yards
#6 Bismuth: 27 yards

#2 Steel: 37 yards
#4 Steel: 23 yards
#6 Steel: 11 yards

#8 TSS: 82 yards
#9 TSS: 63 yards
#10 TSS: 45 yards
 

nettereo16

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The heavier-than-lead shells are pretty deadly. You can shoot 7s which are equivalent to lead 5s. Some of the really dense TSS works well in 9s but I only have experience with Hevi Shot 7s.
I bought a few packs on closeout a few years ago and am making my way through them. They were around 2 bucks a shell which per turkey is pretty reasonable to me.

That said, I don't have a lot of worry about lead contamination in turkeys since you neck shoot them and there are only a few pellets in the breast sometimes.
 
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Mthuntr

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The odds of having lead poisoning issues with turkeys seems very minimal. I've only had a handful of times where 1 or more pellets have made it into the edible parts of a turkey. They're easy to find them and cut out. The shot is moving so slow I can't imagine it fragmenting to be of concern. That being said there are many reasons to use non-lead so I'll see if I can offer a possible alternative.

Go to ballistic products and they can sell you all sorts for shotshell reloading stuff that you won't need a special press for...just a roll crimp drill attachment. They have ITX, Bismuth, Hevi Shot, tin coated tungsten, TSS (aka Heavyweight). They often offer load data. It's kind of satisfying to load your own. The only part about loading your own that sucks is a lot of their stuff is out of stock lately and tracking down 1lb of powder can be tough though a lot of their loads for heavy type shooting is done with Longshot which is easier to find than most. I suppose it also costs a lot up front but you'll load a lot too.

There is a guy that sells TSS components packages for 15rounds. Super18tungstenshot.com but you'll need to buy powder.

Or this may be an option? https://www.rogerssportinggoods.com/federal-blackcloudt-ss-waterfowl-12gauge-3inch?quantity=1&shot_size=3%20%26%209&custcolboxandcasematrixoption=4
 

winmag

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The heavier-than-lead shells are pretty deadly. You can shoot 7s which are equivalent to lead 5s. Some of the really dense TSS works well in 9s but I only have experience with 7s.
I bought a few packs on closeout a few years ago and am making my way through them. They were around 2 bucks a shell which per turkey is pretty reasonable to me.

That said, I don't have a lot of worry about lead contamination in turkeys since you neck shoot them and there are only a few pellets in the breast sometimes.
#7 TSS is WAY overkill for turkeys. But I understand that's what Federal released originally, and people have killed a bunch of birds with them. You just give up pattern density for no reason with #7 TSS, as they have far more energy and penetration than needed for turkeys.

#7 TSS penetrates like lead B's; 1.5" penetration at 103 yards.

On a tangent. I suspect Federal first released #7's because they thought there was no way they could convince turkey hunters that #9's could kill birds.

Edit: When I refer to TSS, I mean 18 grams per cubic centimeter weight tungsten shot.
 

406LIFE

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I've shot Hevishot Magnum blend on turkeys for years. I've paid the $5/shell since before Covid. I may switch after this season, if I can't find my load anymore. But I plan to stick with the bismuth. Most guys probably shoot 2-3 rounds a season at birds, so the cost is pretty negligible compared to the efficacy of the load.
 

winmag

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Just don’t buy Hevi Metal Turkey. Total waste of money. Hevi sounds like a bunch of total idiots with their marketing.

“Since the HEVI-Metal® Turkey load will pattern better than the lead load, you are much more likely to get your turkey with this inexpensive shotshell than you are with a traditional lead shotshell at any normal yardage.”

Oh yeah? With a shell that’s 70% steel [30% lighter than lead], 30% bismuth [13% lighter than lead], and a healthy dose of flax seed filler [99.9% lighter than lead] on top????
 

Dougfirtree

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TSS at $5-$10 a shell will still be the cheapest consumable expense of your hunt. That's 2-3 gallons of gas, and you probably drive farther than that to your hunt area.

If I wanted non-toxic and didn't want to buy TSS then Bismuth #4's would work. But Bismuth is still quite expensive.

Don't bother with steel. The fact that hevi-shot even makes a steel turkey load is a joke.

Some lethality ballistics, based on needing 1.5" of penetration to kill a turkey:
- Muzzle velocity 1200fps
- Solve for how far a given pellet will penetrate 1.5" of ballistics gelatin.

#2 Lead: 85 yards
#4 Lead: 61 yards
#5 Lead: 50 yards
#6 Lead: 40 yards

#2 Bismuth: 64 yards
#4 Bismuth: 44 yards
#5 Bismuth: 35 yards
#6 Bismuth: 27 yards

#2 Steel: 37 yards
#4 Steel: 23 yards
#6 Steel: 11 yards

#8 TSS: 82 yards
#9 TSS: 63 yards
#10 TSS: 45 yard

I've shot Hevishot Magnum blend on turkeys for years. I've paid the $5/shell since before Covid. I may switch after this season, if I can't find my load anymore. But I plan to stick with the bismuth. Most guys probably shoot 2-3 rounds a season at birds, so the cost is pretty negligible compared to the efficacy of the load.
That stuff is almost $10.00 per shell on Midway right now (not that it's in stock).
 

406LIFE

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That stuff is almost $10.00 per shell on Midway right now (not that it's in stock).
The guys at Hevishot expect to have these before spring season this year, and at a price point more inline with what it had been, but not exact.
 

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