Why You Should Hunt with a Muzzleloader Leave a reply

Dec 15, 2019 by Jason Brooks

Why You Should Hunt with a Muzzleloader

By Jason Brooks

Looking for extended seasons, liberal bag limits, or a new challenge? Then put down the long range rifle and pick up a muzzleloader. Recently a good friend of mine began asking me about hunting with a muzzleloader, something I have been doing for years now. The reason why I choose the smoke pole is for several reasons but I admit that they can be intimidating so here are a few reason why you should hunt with a muzzleloader and a few tips to get you started.

Adam Brooks with an early season muley he took using a in-line muzzleloader-Jason Brooks

Extended seasons.

In my home state of Washington, the modern firearm hunter gets nine days to chase mule deer. A few weeks to chase blacktails and whitetails but most of these seasons are during times when the deer are not easy to hunt. Muzzleloader seasons are split, with an early season that allows hunters to head for the mountains before the rifle hunters get to. Then the late seasons offer a chance to hunt deer in snow and when the animals are more active during the day due to the cold. And for the meat hunter it is hard to beat an over-the-counter “any deer” season for some of the hunts. 

Ryan Brooks used a traditional style muzzleloader to take this buck-Jason Brooks

Modern vs. Traditional

Today’s in-line muzzleloaders are very efficient and accurate. For hunters who have thought about picking up a front-loader it can be a bit intimidating. If you can shoot using open sights then you can shoot a muzzleloader. Washington recently changed its equipment regulations to match most modern in-line muzzleloaders but other states such as Idaho still hamper the hunter a bit with an exposed ignition system. Some states also offer a “traditional” season where the hunter must use a patched round ball and no in-line systems. 

A 250 grain Hornady SST went through the buck and was pinned on the far side-Jason Brooks

Today’s muzzleloaders can vary from 200-yard tack drivers to the open plains buffalo bullet launchers. My oldest son prefers his in-line with a sabot modern bullet, shooting the Hornady SST .45 Caliber 250 grain flex tip in his .50 caliber rifle. My youngest likes the challenge of the side hammer and shoots a Lyman Deerstalker with a 405 grain Powerbelt. Both use Triple 7 which is a black powder substitute because it has reliable ignition and cleans up with water. It’s your choice, but be sure to check your state regulations as well as season requirements. 

The authors father, Alan Brooks, took this 202 7/8″ mule deer during a late season muzzleloader hunt and is the #1 Washington State non-typical black powder buck-Jason Brooks

Become a better hunter.

There is no doubt that shooting a modern rifle at an extreme distance takes practice and is not an “easy” hunt. However, there is something to be said about the hunter who sneaks in close and only has one shot and is successful year after year. Learning how to stalk an animal and then keeping your sights aligned after the shot, as muzzleloaders have a slight “hang time” before the bullet leaves the end of the barrel. It takes some skill and you will become a better hunter by taking up the muzzleloader. If you decide to put it down and pick up your modern rifle once again the lessons learned from hunting with a smoke pole will only help you notch more tags.

Jason Brooks-The Outdoor Line Field Editor


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