The 2019 hunting season in California marked the beginning of non-lead ammunition only for all hunting. Effective July 1, 2019, non-lead ammunition is required when taking any wildlife with a firearm anywhere in California. While lead is still allowed on shooting ranges for target shooting it’s use is strictly forbidden for hunting with any centerfire, shotgun, muzzleloading, or rimfire ammuntion. See the California DFW non-lead regulations for more information.
One type of non-lead, the solid copper bullet, has been around for over 30 years. In 1979 Randy Brooks, then owner of Barnes Bullets, conceived the idea of a solid copper bullet that would control expansion and penetrate better without fragmenting like jacketed lead bullets. This would be an advantage in taking larger game. The Barnes X Bullet, an all copper expanding bullet, was first available in 1986.
The Ventana Wildlife Society, a non-profit organization active in conservation and education, has a program to help hunters make the transition from lead to non-lead ammunition. The organization will give you one box, per calendar year, of California approved non-lead centerfire ammunition in the brand and caliber of your choice (subject to availability) at no cost to you. Some additional non-lead rimfire ammunition may also be available. They will even conduct and pay the fees for the now required California DOJ Eligibility Check. These fees can cost up to $19.00 if you are not in the DOJ Automated Firearms System but they will cover the cost. All you have to do is submit a simple request by phone or email and supply all the required information to determine availability and eligibility.
Those who have made the request, have been notified of availability and meeting the eligibility requirement will be able to pick up their free ammunition from the Ventana Wildlife Society at the KRVGA Range at an pre-arranged date and time. When enough requests are received. Mike Stake will contact you with this information. Make sure you have your ID used for the eligibility check, i.e. California drivers license, with you.
To receive the free ammunition:
You will have to contact the Ventana Wildlife Society representative, Mike Stake, tell him what centerfire caliber you would be interested in receiving and he will tell you what is available. He will also need the following information to perform the required DOJ Eligibility Check:
Height (feet and inches, e.g., 6 ft – 0 in)
Date of Birth
ID Type (CA DL, CA ID, or DOD ID)
Race* (see choices below)
U.S. Citizen (Yes or No)
Place of Birth (State)
* choose from American Indian, Asian Indian, Black, Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Guamanian, Hawaiian, Hispanic, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Other, Other Asian, Pacific Islander, Samoan, Unknown, Vietnamese, White
This information should be the same on your ID.
You may contact Mike Stake at:
Phone: (831) 800-7423 (mention KRVGA)
email: email@example.com (put KRVGA in the subject)
Note that this is 100% free. There are no catches or gimmicks. This is being done by a non-profit organization to promote the use of lead free ammunition. I, personally, have received free ammunition from this group every year.
Visit the Ventana Wildlife Society web site, www.ventanaws.org, to learn more about the Free Non-Lead Ammunition Program and other conservation programs and educational services that support wildlife in California including Bald Eagles and the California Condor.