You can’t really call them smokepoles anymore. For most of us hunters, the days of the front-stuffing, black powder rifle are gone. Our muzzleloader season opens Saturday and runs through Nov. 22. However, few of us will be using black powder. Technology has taken over.
When Tony Knight invented the in-line muzzleloader, he changed the face of muzzle loading and the term primitive weapon. The only thing primitive about it is the single shot, down the barrel loading. Everything else is new as a sunrise.
I started with an old kit gun I bought for $80. I killed several deer with but it was as likely to misfire or hangfire as it was to shoot. My next step was an early day CVA in-line that may have been worse. Then I got a phone call from Tony Knight with an invitation to come hunt with him. Along with the invitation came a gift of a Knight Rifle, an in-line marvel. That completely changed muzzle loading for me. Never again would I feel handicapped in the deer woods because of my muzzleloader.
We became close friends and I was saddened to hear of his death this year. With the series of Knight Rifles that Tony presented to me each year, came more and better technology. Today I shoot a Knight Disc Rifle. I have had newer, fancier Knight Rifles but I kept coming back to this one because I could flat shoot it. With it, I have killed antelope at measured 210-yards and several deer between 175 and 200-yards. It has never once misfired or been “slow”.
For most Middle-Tennessee deer hunters, including me, the muzzleloader season is the best time of the entire year to kill a mature buck. If the weather cooperates, the bucks will be traveling, searching for a receptive doe. The traveling buck is the vulnerable buck. If the weather is hot, they will do most of their seeking at night. Let us hope for a cold, frosty morning.
This is also the best time of the season to call or rattle one within shooting distance. Again, thanks to the advances in technology that distance greatly increased. Sure, in the movies, we have all watched the mountain men shoot and kill grizzly bear at 300-yards with flintlocks. Some of those mountain men probably could do that. Maybe. None of us modern day nimrods could.
Today there are even muzzleloaders that use modern rifle powder and rifle primers for ignition. I have shot some of the Savage products and they shoot just like a rifle. Still, I prefer my antique in-line.
So what constitutes a muzzleloader and what are the rules? A muzzleloader is just that. It must be loaded down the barrel. Personally, I shoot 150-grains of Pyrodex in pellet form pushing a 275gr T-Shock bullet and sabot. It is a deadly load.
The limit is the same as for bow or rifle. Here in Unit L, we are allowed three does per day and one buck per day. We cannot kill more than three bucks per year. Of course, you must wear 500-square inches of hunter orange on your head and upper body.
Now here is a tip I don’t always give out. Would you like to have the most effective deer decoy ever known to man? If so, shoot the first doe that comes by you. Quickly reload and just sit there. There is nothing draws a buck in quicker than a doe this time of year. Now is the real secret. For some reason, a deer cannot tell where a muzzleloader shot comes from. I have shot at them, missed and had them walk right toward me. So do not be afraid to drop that doe.
Okay. Season opens Saturday at daylight, closes at dark Friday, Nov. 22. Hunt well, hunt safe and if you are successful, send me a picture. Weather permitting; I’ll be up a tree at daylight.
Contact John L. Sloan at firstname.lastname@example.org