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Elite Hunter Shorts: What Type of Shotgun Pellets are Allowed for Waterfowl Hunting in the US? (2024)

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In the United States, there are specific regulations on the type of shotgun pellets that can be used for waterfowl hunting, and it’s important to know these regulations as the fines and penalties for breaking the law can be pretty extreme!

The most important thing to know is that since 1991, the use of lead pellets is illegal, as lead is toxic to wildlife and can contaminate the environment.

Instead, we’re required to use non-toxic shot, which is made of materials such as steel, tungsten, bismuth, and other alloys. The specific types of non-toxic shot that are allowed for waterfowl hunting vary depending on the state, so you should always check the regulations for the specific state that you plan to hunt in.

A Wood Duck in Autumn

Different State Regulations for Shotgun Pellets

Different states might have different regulations and laws put in place when it comes to shotgun pellets.

Sports shooting. Hunter reloading shotgun pellets cartridge. Smoke from the trunks of smooth-bore hunting rifle

For example, in California, non-toxic shot that is approved for waterfowl hunting must be made of steel, tungsten-iron, tungsten-polymer, tungsten-matrix, bismuth-tin, or other federally approved non-toxic shot.

In Minnesota, non-toxic shot that is approved for waterfowl hunting includes steel, bismuth-tin, tungsten-polymer, tungsten-matrix, and other materials approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

In contrast, some states have more relaxed regulations on the use of non-toxic shot for waterfowl hunting. In Texas and Louisiana, hunters are actually allowed to use lead shot for waterfowl hunting in certain areas. However, it’s still very much encouraged that you use non-toxic shotgun pellets in these areas.

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

Protect Your Wildlife!

Brown northern pintail (Anas acuta) flying on a blurred background in closeup

Always ensure that you follow your state shotgun pellets regulations to protect wildlife and the environment, and to avoid penalties and fines for using prohibited materials. Besides respecting your state laws, remember that they were made for a reason. As hunters, it is crucial that we do everything we can to respect our prey, its wildlife, and the environment it resides.

Using the correct type of non-toxic shots will also honestly improve do nothing but ensure higher success while hunting, since using the correct materials will often provide better patterns and penetration than lead.

To summarize, lead = bad.

We hope you found this entry useful! Looking for other general hunting tips and tricks? Check out our library here.

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