MUZZLELOADER: A BLAST FROM THE PAST
When it comes to hunting options and seasons today, one popular method can actually take hunters back in time…the unique experience of hunting with a muzzleloader.
In this pursuit, all hunters must begin by thoroughly study the rifle and bullet, and then measuring blackpowder precisely. loading is a step-by-step process that requires pouring in the muzzleloading powder—or dropping in pre-formed blackpowder pellets, wrapping a musket ball or bullet with a patch or sabot, and then pressing the bullet into the barrel’s muzzle. Next, with some effort and a long ram-rod, users the bullet is pushed with the powder behind it far down into the barrel. The end-goal is to seat the bullet against the powder charge. Finally, after placing a piece of flint to the spring-loaded arm or a percussion cap onto the nipple in the ignition system, the firearm is ready— it’s time to tug the trigger.
Anyone shooting a muzzleloader is well aware of the thick smoke, plume of fire, and all the “special effects” that make this type of hunting—and practice—so thrilling. Seeing and executing the process in person is far better than the iconic scenes in an old black-and-white Daniel Boone movie. And outside of the excitement of the blast, the great news is that hunting with a muzzleloader can open all kinds of new hunting opportunities.
Across America, the most popular pursuit with a muzzleloader is white-tailed deer. Numerous states host special muzzleloader-only hunting seasons for deer and other species. Those special stand-alone seasons not only potentially mean less crowds in forests and fields, but also that tags and licenses that are in areas where many rifle tags are not issued or preference points are required to purchase now become more readily available for a hunter with a blackpowder firearm in his hands. A good example of this is Iowa’s special muzzleloading shotgun only turkey season.
Hunting with a muzzleloading firearm offers many unique rewards. To make the effort more successful, there are numerous manufacturers, such as Thompson/Center Arms, that offer many models of muzzleloaders. With so many types of muzzleloaders out there, no matter your state regulations or personal preferences, there is a specially designed firearm out there to help you achieve your goals.
MEETING THE CHALLENGE
Hunting with a muzzleloader is definitely a technical pursuit. Muzzleloader firearms teach many important hunting skills—and can possibly make each participant a better hunter. Hunters using muzzleloading firearms need to learn details about ballistics, barrel bores, blackpowder, and bullets aall the while improving basic shooting skills. This group of hunters also needs to better understand the science required to send a projectile—the bullet—into flight and across a distance. Another part some hunters find thrilling is determining what amount of powder is required to push the bullet a specific distance to hit the bull’s-eye. This is where high school math, velocity and gravity all become factors to figure for specific hunting conditions. Don’t be intimidated though – it really boils down to learning to use any firearm – practice, and extra attention to detail can translate into a more quickly-filled deer tag, elk antlers for the wall, or a bear rug in your home.
Ultimately, hunting with a muzzleloader teaches two very important skills to all hunters—accuracy and patience. Each hunter will learn to aim carefully since a lot is riding on that first shot, and it is A PROCESS to reload. In most hunting situations the standard is “one shot, one kill.” It’s important to practice—and practice reloading.
The process of loading and firing a muzzleloader is best accomplished by first cleaning the muzzleloader. To start this process, remove any flint or primer and next determine if the firearm is unloaded. To do this, simply drop the ramrod into the barrel. A metal ringing sound means the barrel is empty. If there’s a low thud, the muzzleloader could be loaded. Anyone with questions should visit a gunsmith to help safely complete this process.
Before reassembling some components, like the breech plug for an in-line black powder rifle model, first grease any threaded parts. This permits easy disassembling the next time the firearm needs to be cleaned or unloaded.
The good news is that going deer hunting with a muzzleloader has become a more “modern” process. There are also several manufacturers that offer youth models of muzzleloading rifles for those with smaller frames and arms. Thompson/Center Arms’ (www.tcarms.com) IMPACT .50-caliber muzzleloading rifle is a great example of an entry level muzzleloading rifle. It comes in an economical price point that’s easy on the wallet, features break-open design for easy cleaning and use, and incorporates a spacer on the rear of the stock to adjust to fit many shooters arm length and body style. This great entry-level muzzleloader was the recent recipient of a Game & Fish Reader¹s Choice Award.
To step up the game-toppling options, consider shouldering T/C’s Triumph muzzleloading rifle. This blackpowder firearm offers premium features including: Toggle Lock Action, Speed Breech XT and a Weathershield finish. This .50-caliber muzzleloader also utilizes a ¼-turn easy-to-remove breech plug to make cleaning a snap.
Anyone wanting to be an apex hunter with a muzzleloading firearm could consider shouldering T/C’s Bone Collector model—made in collaboration with famed hunter, Michael Waddell. This rifle has a Flex-Tech stock, utilizes the Speed Breech XT system, comes with a fluted barrel and has a reversible hammer extension. It’s also available fully cloaked in Realtree AP camouflage.
Looking for a gun for all seasons? Another good choice is the T/C Pro Hunter with a unique interchangeable muzzleloader platform – perfect for those hunters that like to hunt state to state or in adverse conditions.
Learn more about T/C muzzleloading rifles, shotguns and compact firearm models on their website (www.tcarms.com). There is also a good video on this website showing details about shooting and hunting with a muzzleloader from pro hunter, Michael Waddell. And, anyone finding success behind a cloud of muzzleloader smoke can also upload their trophy and hunting images to the T/C website Trophy Room. Thumbs up!
- Before hunting with a muzzleloader, get organized and place bullets, powder, tools and other items into specific coat pockets and pack pouches where they are easy to reach. Then you’ll be organized and able to quickly find items when it is time to reload.
- Follow through is important, and always hold a muzzleoading rifle as steady as possible when pulling the trigger. This creates a more accurate shot down range.
- Always wear shooting safety glasses when using a muzzleloader because the fire and burning powder are near to your face and eyes.
- Have fun and think about the long history of blackpowder rifles when using a muzzleloading firearm. These are the type rifles that helped shape America and achieved the westward expansion.
Visit the local state game and fish department website to learn the muzzleloader regulations in the region you’ll be hunting in because some places do not permit riflescopes or certain models of muzzleloaders.
All images can be taken directly from the T/C website media room
or go to www.tcarms.com and click on the Media Press Room link at the very bottom of the page.