AMB West Hunt Program Ammo Policy

All hunters are required to use lead-free ammunition at all four ranches. During pre-hunt check-ins, guides will visually confirm hunters are using lead-free ammunition. Hunters are required to bring the ammo box to confirm its lead-free status. Hunters not using lead-free ammo will forfeit their hunt, and their hunt will not be rescheduled.

Why Lead-free?

The AMB West ranches have been hosting a community hunting program for many years. With the 2020 program, AMB West decided to open up a much larger community hunt program on the Paradise Valley Ranch, which helped us harvest nearly 190 elk on our ranches. With such a successful program, we couldn’t ignore the fact that many birds of prey and other scavengers were taking advantage of a new and expanding source of nutrition from the many gut piles and elk carcasses we were leaving in the field after harvesting an elk. What wasn’t considered was the impact we might have on other wildlife that might ingest lead fragments from the bullets hunters were using. To learn more about lead free ammo and wildlife ecology please visit:

Golden Eagle Ecology

Golden eagles are found throughout the northern hemisphere, including North America where they are split between migrants and non-migrants.  Birds nesting in Canada and Alaska migrate to places including Paradise Valley during the winter and other eagles breeding in Paradise Valley are present year-round.  Golden eagles have evolved with highly acidic digestive systems that quickly kills potentially harmful pathogens when ingesting dead animals. Unfortunately, this acidic digestive system also can easily erode heavy metals such as lead that is incidentally ingested.

How does Lead impact Golden Eagles?

Lead has long been recognized as a neurotoxin and poison with damaging effects to humans and wildlife. Lead can negatively impact every system of the body and replaces vital nutrients such as zinc, iron and calcium.  Specific symptoms that occur in scavenging birds such as golden eagles include wing droop, kidney failure, weight loss, delayed motor skills and in some cases, death.

Bullet Technology

The alternative to lead bullets for hunting are typically all copper or gilding metal, which is 95% copper and 5% zinc. Copper-based bullets have been used for a long time primarily because of their performance on game. Copper bullets often have better penetration than lead and higher weight retention.  High weight retention means better knock-down power.

It is important to note that copper bullets and lead-core bullets with the same grain weight will shoot differently out of the same rifle.  A 6-inch difference at 100 yards is not uncommon.  This is why it is paramount that hunters sight in their rifles using their non-lead ammunition prior to their AMB West elk hunt.

Where can I find Non-lead Ammo?

Non-lead or copper-based ammunition is readily available. All major ammunition manufacturers offer a non-lead option in many big game calibers. Here are a few resources to explore as you prepare to join us for a non-lead ammo elk hunt.

  • Common lead-free bullets loaded by multiple manufacturers include: Barnes TSX, Barnes TTSX, Federal Trophy Copper, Nosler E-tip, Hornady GMX
  • Local, Park County sporting goods retailers that carry a selection of non-lead ammunition:
    • Yellowstone Sporting Goods in Livingston, MT
    • Mamma Bear Armory in Gardiner, MT
  • A short list of online and retailer order options:

Please visit Montana Hunters for Eagle Conservation for one $20 voucher to offset the cost of one box of factory non-lead ammunition or one box of bullets for reloading used in common rifle calibers for big game hunting.  Vouchers are limited.

Hunt applications are closed until next season.