Muzzleloader Season

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Season Updates 2009-10

My first deer with a muzzleloader was in Paint Rock Valley with a borrowed muzzleloader.  Jim and I both harvested a deer that trip with muzzleloaders - it was a fun trip.

Muzzleloader doe from Paint Rock Valley - early 1990's

Austin's First Muzzleloader Deer - January 2008

Austin Smith - Age 10

Deer: Doe
Weight: 110 lbs.
Date: January 13, 2008
Time: Afternoon - 5:10 pm
Location: Jackson County
Weapon: T/C Encore
Scope: Leupold VXII 3x9 50mm
Caliber: 50 Cal.
Bullet: Barnes Spitfire 285 gr.
Range: 20 yards
Distance Deer Traveled: 60 yards
Stand: Shooting House
Hunters: Austin and Jeff Smith (Kim and Amber at another field)

Another great afternoon for Austin! His first deer with a muzzleloader.  We hunted a shooting house on a small food plot.  It was 50 yards by 50 yards surrounded by 15' high cutover.  With the muzzleloader, I wanted all shots to be close.  I got more than I bargained for!  At 5:00pm, a doe entered the field.  It was really nervous and did more walking than eating.  She finally settled down just in front of the shooting house at 20 yards!  A yearling entered the field - they were both really close.  We did a test run of him shooting when we arrived and he is not high enough to shoot out of the windows from the chair.  With the deer at 20 yards, he eased up and sat on my right leg.  Normally, we raise the camo netting for the shot but cannot with the deer so close.  We eased the gun barrel out a slit in the netting and rested it on the window. The shooting house is on the ground and it looks like the barrel is almost touching the deer.  We had to wait for almost a minute for the deer to turn broadside.  It was facing us most of the time - we were pretty sneaky. The right leg of the chair is in a hole, I'm trying to keep the chair balanced and still.  I'm nervous due to the deer so close and the muzzleloader situation.  Austin is nervous, I can feel him shaking.  The deer finally gets turned and he pulls the trigger.  Smoke goes everywhere!  I'm sitting back and cannot see the deer.  I yank the netting down as fast as possible but only see smoke.  Austin said he had a good mark on where the deer ran out of the field and it had a broke leg.  We sit for 15 or so minutes and I go to the spot he saw it leave the field.  I found lots of good blood.  We started tracking and it ran 60 yards before piling up.  It was shot perfect!  The bullet went in just behind the entry shoulder and broke the opposite shoulder.  He was excited!  His first muzzleloader deer!

January 2008 Muzzleloader Buck

Deer: 6 pt.
Weight: 135 lbs.
January 11, 2008
Time: 5:20pm
Location: Madison County, AL
Weapon: T/C Omega
Scope: Leupold VXIII 4.5x14 50mm
Caliber: 50 Cal.
Bullet: Barnes Spitfire 285 gr.
Stand: None
120 yards
Distance Deer Traveled: 75 yards
Hunters: Jeff Smith

It was getting late and I saw movement in the field.  With the binoculars, I could see the buck walking toward me from 200 yards out.  He stopped at 120 yards and moved to my right.  I was on him with the scope and hoped he'd stop.  He paused just long enough for the shot.  He ran flat out for 75 yards and crashed.  The shot was a perfect bow shot - just behind both shoulders.  He has 4 points on one side and the other side is damaged.  Looks like it was broken in velvet and grow two points out of the antler base.  I was glad to get him.

December 2005 Muzzleloader Buck

Deer: 7pt.
Weight: 178 lbs.
: 17.5"
December 1, 2005
Time: 4:30pm
Location: Madison County, AL
T/C Omega
Scope: Leupold VXIII 4.5x14 50mm
Caliber: 50 Cal.
Bullet: Barnes Spitfire 285 gr.
Stand: Log Pile
Range: 40 yards
Distance Deer Traveled: 0 yard
Hunters: Jeff Smith

The timber on the property was select cut and has some huge log piles.  I climbed on top of a log pile the size of a house - I was well concealed.  I saw several deer coming out of the pine thicket to the hardwoods - I had around 20 deer milling around within 75 yards of the log pile.  There's quite a few white and red oaks remaining in that section of woods. The under growth has exploded with the extra sunlight from the logging.  It's thick with ground cover nearly waist high.  I saw some horns and got ready.  This guy walked by the end of the log pile and I shot him in the right shoulder.  He never took a step.  I had other deer come by within 10 minutes including a small racked buck that seemed puzzled by this deer lying on the ground.  This deer has as much fat on him as any Jim or I can remember.  He had a half inch under the hide and a couple of inches covering the tenderloin.  He had ate well with all the acorns.  I switched bullets at the end of last year.  I shot 7 or 8 deer over the last two years with my old bullet and was not happy with the performance.  They were very accurate but the deer ran off when shot.  I recovered all by one of them but running a hundred yards shot through the lungs with a 50 caliber bullets is not what I'm after.  I'm now shooting the Barnes Spitfire 285 grain and it did a number on this guy.  They're not as accurate as the old bullet but I like the field results so far.  They'll shoot a 3-4 inch group at 100 yards with three 50 grain Pyrodex pellets. I'm sure glad to get him - it's been a tough season so far!

Story about the one I "lost" last year (2004):  I was hunting a large clover field and had a few doe out in the field.  I saw a good buck come out of the woods but could see another deer back in the timber.  The one in the field was a nice 18" wide 8 point (estimate) - I felt like I had plenty of time and waited to see what was still in the woods.  I finally got a glimpse of the other deer and he was a definite shooter!  Big rack deer!!  The thing I remember most was the number of points - I have no idea how many but he had a head full.  It looked like a brush pile on his head.  I had a great prop and the rangefinder said he was at 120 yards out.  I waited a good 5 minutes for him to come out farther in the field and get completely broadside.  The nervousness was gone by now - I was thinking of the best mount for him - upright left turn to show off his height and number of points :) I had the cross hairs buried and knew I'd have my hands on him with a matter of minutes.  I squeezed the trigger and the smoke went everywhere.  When it cleared, no deer in sight or lying in the field.  I had no idea which way he ran.  I had a good mark on the spot - made sure of that before the shot.  I never found a trace of him that night or saw him again.  I was sick!!!  The other deer I shot with that bullet would run a hundred or so yards and sometimes not bleed a drop.  Over the years, I've shot quite a few mature bucks and they don't like to die.  I've actually seen them crawling when they can't stand.  Big mature bucks are a different creature all together - I have a great deal of respect for all deer but especially mature bucks.  I hope I missed but I don't see how with a great prop at a reasonable distance.  I was practicing a lot at 100+ yards and that bullet would shoot 2 inch groups all day long at 100 yards. 

December 2004 Muzzleloader Buck

Deer: 8pt.
Weight: 175 lbs.
December 15, 2004
Time: 4:40pm
Location: Madison County, AL
T/C Omega
Scope: Leupold VXIII 4.5x14 50mm
Caliber: 50 Cal.
Bullet: CVA PowerBelt Aero 245 gr.
Stand: None
Range: 80 yards
Distance Deer Traveled: 0 yards
Hunters: Jeff Smith

I was hunting off the ground beside an old hog shed and this deer came across the field at 4:40pm.  He was traveling from some big timber to the pine thicket.  I looked at him in the scope and started not to shoot.  I plan to shoot several doe off the land (per landowners request) and only mature bucks.  I could tell he was a heavy deer but lacking on points and mass.  He has good width - 19" spread.  I decided to shoot at the last moment and he hit the ground.  I haven't had an easy shot all year! The hog shed is beside a grown up dry pond and the deer was on the opposite side of the pond. I had to shoot through the brush to the opposite side of the pond.  He was walking to my left side at 80 yards. The shot hit right at the top of the 8-ring and destroyed the top of the lungs and bottom of the spine.  Didn't hurt the shoulder meat but did ruin some of the backstrap on one side.  He really had the buck smell going on!  I can still smell that funky musk odor!!  I think he was looking for a girl friend.

From corner of Hog Shed across dry pond using zoom lens.  It's around 60 yards across the pond and another 20 to the deer.

Thompson Omega Muzzleloader - Leupold VX-III Scope 4.5x14 50mm - Barnes Spitfire Bullet


My muzzleloader - Thompson Omega - 50 caliber


Thompson Center Encore Muzzleloader - Leupold VX-II Scope 3x9 50mm - Barnes Spitfire Bullet 285gr



Check out an article I wrote on muzzleloaders

Jim Childers with a Muzzleloader Buck taken in Morgan County - early 1990's

After Jim shot this deer, he called me to go help him find it. I had just finished dressing a buck and carried one of the legs with me. I slipped it inside the back of my jacket and waited until we got to the spot where he shot the deer. When we arrived at the spot, I slipped the leg out and laid it on the ground. We all milled around looking for blood and someone found the leg ... I think it was his brother. Needless to say, it was pretty funny when we found the buck and it had all four legs.

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