Outdoor / Fishing

Thursday, Aug 08 2013 08:39 PM

Steve Merlo: Concept of banning lead shot simply doesn't make sense

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    With the beautiful Cummings Valley in the background, Steve and Candy Merlo show off their take of 'High River Preserve' pheasants and chukars. Their hunting poodle, Beau, flushed the birds into range for them.

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By STEVE MERLO, Contributing columnist

I hear a lot of negative chatter about the proposed lead shooting ban in California, and while I am not particularly against a ban on lead bullets, I am definitely against a ban on lead shot, and here's why.

First of all, I am against the lead-ban legislation because it just seems like the anti-hunters never seem to stop, always wanting more and more inane laws that make absolutely no sense.

Secondly, hunters are always at the forefront of any revolution that protects game animals and allows their overall numbers to increase. Duck hunters in the early 1990s, for instance, realized that in certain areas, lead shot was being gleaned from the bottoms of lakes and ponds by waterfowl, causing a tremendous loss of ducks and geese due to lead poisoning. Hunters were quick to insist that all duck hunters switch over from lead to non-toxic forms of shot, and that eventually cured the problem.

The same cannot work for smaller game birds and animals. When duck hunters switched over from lead to steel, they immediately went to shot sizes two to three times larger to compensate for mass/energy equivalents, and made up for lost kinetic downrange energy by increasing velocities.

Ducks and geese can take bigger pellet sizes because they have fairly large, resilient bodies, but to increase the size of the small shot used to hunt resident and migratory small birds and game would completely devastate and destroy their meat, creating a wasteful situation. Also, lead shot in its pure form is harmless; it's only when it's in its chemical forms that it becomes deadly, such as being ground up in a condor's fist-sized, acidic gizzard and then ingested into their blood system. Unlike condors, waterfowl and large raptors, game birds have such small and speedy alimentary processes that even if they did accidentally ingest a pellet, they would quickly eliminate it before it had a chance to harm them.

By the way, even though I'm against any legislation against a lead bullet ban, big game hunters need to give non-toxic bullets a chance. I did and have never regretted the switch. I shoot Barnes TTSX bullets in my rifle and have found them to be a devastating addition to my deer, coyote and wild pig shooting, with one-shot, instantaneous kills the norm rather than the exception.

However, all this hoopla about switching over to ineffective, crippling, short range, light-hitting, non-lead shotshells just won't cut it for me. I hope our legislature comes to its senses and votes for common sense rather than being pressured by the anti-hunting crowd to vote for some silly measure that doesn't hold water.

Hunter safety classes

The hunter safety class scheduled for Saturday is already full, reports Kern Shooting Sports. Only the Aug. 17 class and the two Internet classes on August 12th and 19th have room remaining. Contact Jay Busby at (661) 871-9025 to pre-register for the remaining classes.

Remember, hunters not already in the Department of Fish and Wildlife's automated licensing system (ALS) computers cannot get a license without proof of completing a state-approved hunter safety course. That also includes big- game hunters needing license certification to hunt out of state if they don't have proof of a prior hunting license.

Ladies trap league

Every Friday night at the Kern County Gun Club until Sept. 6, women can enjoy a trap shooting league of their own. Cost is only $20 for two rounds (50 targets) which also includes prizes and raffles. Ammo is not included. Contact Jennifer at (661) 345-3513 or Melanie at (661) 765-6206 for more information on this exciting series of trap shoots solely for the woman shooters in the house.

Dove day warm-up shoot

In anticipation of dove season opening Sept. 1, the Arvin Lions Club is sponsoring its 4th annual sporting clay shoot at the Kern County Gun Club on Aug. 31. Check-in begins at 8 a.m. Cost is only $75 per shooter (shells not included) and includes refreshments and a tri-tip lunch. The event will have a huge raffle for guns and other prizes.

For more information, contact Kent at (661) 619-6260 or Mark at (661) 213-6295. Proceeds benefit the Arvin Lions Club Philanthropic Activities.

Isabella Lake still producing

Crappies have once again begun to bite at Isabella Lake. The fish are currently hanging in the emergent trees at the 20-foot level. Also, bass remain shallow with some incredible 25- to 40-pound, five-fish stringers coming to the boats. Catfish are also hitting well all over the lake. Launching remains a difficult proposition, but pickup-type aluminums and tube fishermen are having a field day on an almost empty lake.

 

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