The Everyday Outdoorsman | Smoke Poles

The Everyday Outdoorsman | Smoke Poles
September 30, 2013, 11:15 am
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In most of the South the months of September and October usually mean "primitive weapons" season for deer.  Archery started a couple weeks ago in my home state and will continue for another couple of weeks.  There will then be a transition to Black Powder for a short season before rifle hunting starts.

I always enjoyed the black powder season and the thrill of having the opportunity to squeeze the trigger of my front end loader.  I was very fortunate that I got turned on to black powder many years ago while living in Alabama.  My newfound hunting buddies were starting the season with black powder, and invited me to go.  Unfortunately I did not own a black powder gun, but a friend had and extra and that was enough for me.  I went, and as fate would have it, shot my first deer with a muzzle loader on that first hunt.  Needless to say, I was hooked and it didn't take me long to order my first black powder rifle.  I went with a Hawken 50 caliber and it was by far the best shooting black powder rifle I ever had, even including my "in-line" which I won through a lottery a number of years ago.  Over the years I've developed a few "tips" that have helped make my black powder seasons successful.  I hope these tips will help you begin to fill your meat locker early this season;

1.  Practice, practice, practice; like archery, black powder hunting requires shooting skills that can only be achieved through lots of practice.  It's important to pay special attention to the amount of powder that gives you the best grouping with your gun.  Powder pellets make it easier to consistently duplicate the load that gives you the best accuracy.  Be sure to try a number of bullets to see what type and weight will also give you the best accuracy.  Once determined, don't run out.  Having to change bullets can have a major affect on how well your smoke pole shoots.

2.  Remember, everything is (in) possible; Your "possibles" bag is critical to your success.  I always double checked to ensure I had everything necessary to keep me hunting.  Quick loaders helped me speed my reloading capability, bullet started ensured I did not damage the bullet I was loading.  The bag kept my caps dry and my nipple wrench ensured I could quickly pull and remove if the nipple became fouled.  Always had some lubricant and rags so I could do a quick clean.  Keep tape, bandages or finger cots in the bag so you can cover the muzzle in the event of unexpected rain. 

3.  Remember the scent; It will likely still be warm during muzzle loading season.  You will need to dress appropriately, keep bug spray handy, and use "early season" scent neutralizer to keep your scent at a minimum.  Feeding patterns will likely be similar to early bow season, so deer will likely feed on acorns, wild fruit, and browse on their way to agriculture fields.  This puts you in their thickets which will hold scent due to the heat and heavy foliage.  If hunting in oaks, find some oak scent as this seems to work well for me in the early season. 

4.  Take your time; whether hunting from a tree stand or on the ground, take your time going to or coming from your stands.  Don't work up a sweat, and be very observant of any movement you encounter.  Again, foliage will likely still be present and your vision limited in the woods.  You don't want to unnecessarily disturb wildlife when going to or coming from your hunting area. 

5.  Prepare to handle your success; If you are fortunate to harvest a deer during warm weather, plan in advance how you will handle the processing of the animal.  Heat will destroy meat quickly and you need to get the animal processed quickly and in the cooler. 

Early season "smoke pole" hunting is an exciting way to continue your enjoyment of the outdoors and, in many states, may actually extend your hunting season with late season primitive weapons seasons.  It is also the "tune up" for what is to come.  Prepare, enjoy, and great success with your front loader hunting this season.

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