all hunting with shot and shotguns. The regulations go into effect March 1, 2007. These conservation areas have extensive wetland habitats and concentrations of waterfowl and shorebirds in the fall and spring. All hunters using a shotgun for turkey, dove, rabbit, squirrel or other upland game hunting on these areas must use nontoxic shot and may not possess lead shot.
Twenty-nine additional conservation areas are being reviewed for possible designation for nontoxic shot only, bringing the statewide total to nearly 50 of the 1,100 areas that we manage. Most of these conservation areas are located along the Missouri River, where periodic flooding makes spent lead shot available to migratory waterfowl, or the areas are near urban centers that have high hunting pressure for many types of upland game. Also in 2008, if approved by the Conservation Commission, all dove hunters on Missouri’s conservation areas must use nontoxic shot.
The proposed nontoxic shot rule changes will apply only to lands administered by the Conservation Department.
No Substitute for Labs
My shooting picked up, and I was approaching a limit. I decided to only shoot at birds that approached me from behind and flew out in front, this forced me to be more alert and challenged my shooting skills.
My hunting companion had a limit of doves and was sitting on a bucket next to me. It was a good thing he was done, because I had used up all of my shells and was working on his. He also would run out into the field to retrieve my birds for me with nearly the same enthusiasm as my Lab.
By late afternoon, I finally got my last dove and we began our walk back to the parking lot. We chatted with other hunters who had also finished up and were making their way back. Almost every hunter had taken a limit of doves that day.
I drank the last of my water just as the truck came into sight. The flying doves were thicker than when we started hunting several hours earlier. My friend and I had a memorable and unique hunt, but I have to say that I still missed my dog.
Hunters and Nontoxic Shot
The mandatory nontoxic shot regulation was established for hunting ducks and geese in Missouri in 1990 and nationally during the 1991–92 waterfowl hunting season.
Fifteen years have passed since nontoxic shot was required for duck and goose hunting. In that time, not only have hunters adjusted to the different ballistics of steel shot, but more alternatives to lead shot have become available. Many are composed of different metallic alloys, including some that provide performance similar to lead.
Studies of waterfowl hunters have not documented a sustained increase in crippling loss due to the use of nontoxic shot.
In addition, guns are now equipped with barrels that will not suffer from long-term use of the harder steel shot.
The price of nontoxic shells also has come down, especially for 12- and 20-gauge shells. Hunters can even load their own nontoxic shot shells to save money or to improve performance.