Single-shot strategies for smoke pole hunters

Itís hard to believe that deer season is nearly over. For those hoping to harvest a last-minute deer, be sure to properly load and store your muzzleloader.

Hunting with a muzzleloader can be easy if done right. Unfortunately, if done improperly, the experience can turn out to be quite a nightmare. I have had my share of good hunts, but have caused myself to miss several deer by improperly caring for my gun. It took a few years to perfect my technique, now misfires are a thing of the past. With the likelihood you will only get one shot, itís of utmost importance to make it count. You may be surprised what can wander up on ya these days, as Derek Miller found out on the first of December (see on page 13).

The muzzleloader can be an accurate and dependable weapon, but only if you are prepared to do what it takes to make it fire. Finicky is an understatement when referring to black powder rifles. They need to be cleaned, loaded, and cared for properly if expected to fire every time. The smallest of mistakes can leave you both smokeless and empty-handed. Most will experience a late or misfire at some point, so be ready to reload fast just in case.

I began muzzleloading years ago when they became legal hunting implements. My reason for doing so was extended range. At that time, a shotgun was only accurate to about 75 yards. I was able to reach out to 150 yards with black powder, which basically doubled my range. There were a few snags along the way, but there were solutions to these problems. Nearly 100 percent of the firing issues I have had were user error and easily fixed.

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