Today is Friday, August 18, 2017

A puff of smoke and a hearty . . .

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17 below zero and the Knight fired perfectly

My favorite big buck season is about to begin. When the TWRA set the muzzleloader season in early November, before the rifle season, I became a happy camper and had I known how, I would have done my happy dance. It is possible, I did it anyway.

I like shooting a front-stuffer, always have. My first one was a kit gun and was a genuine piece of recycled hay. I never knew where it would shoot or if it even would shoot.

But I did kill a few deer with it. I loved that time of year.

Then along came Sir Tony Knight with his in-line muzzleloaders and I know, I broke into my happy dance.

Tony and I were great friends. We hunted together many times and every time he invented a new and improved muzzleloader, he sent me one. How I loved sighting in those new, often prototype rifles, I drooled with thoughts of the upcoming seasons. I hunted everything from elk to bear to antelope and deer with his rifles. In states where rifles were not allowed and shotguns were, I often chose the muzzleloader over a shotgun, when legal. One shot was enough if it was in the right place.

I quickly learned, if you load one properly, a 200-yard shot was not out of the question.

I have killed several deer at distances over 180-yards and one antelope at a measured, 213-yards. It is simply a matter of knowing where to hold.

But the really great thing about our muzzleloading season is the weather and the beginning of the pre-rut. The weather is cooling, (usually), and the bucks are starting to move, (usually). Those two factors combined, can make for some great hunting and maybe, some happy dancing. Now is the time to look for the lo0ne, mature doe. That is the one the bucks are looking for.

Our season opens this Saturday and runs until Nov.20.

Sometime during those two weeks, the stars should align and we should have a chance for a good buck. I won't, for two reasons. First, I don't think there is one where I am hunting that would measure 100-inches and secondly, I don't care, anyway. I'll just enjoy the weather and hope a fat doe walks by. My bow season has been a bust.

But boy, have I had some great muzzleloader hunts.

One I quickly recall was right here in Wilson County. I was running late and the sun was already up when I got to my farm.

As I was loading stuff on the ATV, I looked up and a nice 8-point was running and old, lone doe around the field in front of the woods. I quickly put a go-bang in my Knight, 50-caliber disc rifle and took a rest on the ATV seat. When they made the next round of the field, he graciously stopped and posed just under a rise. I held a tad high and made smoke. He ran about 40-yards and dropped. He measured just a tick over 130-inches, respectable for this part of the state.

And there was a hunt in Nebraska. I had saved the week for Mickey Pope to come hunt with me on some land we had leased. The day before he was to leave, Mickey had a fatal stroke.

The next morning, I climbed the tree I was going to put him in and just after eight o'clock, I shot a beautiful 10-point at 35-yards. I called him the Mickey buck.

And of course, there was the bitterly cold hunt in Saskatchewan when the warmest it got was -12.

I left my Knight muzzleloader on the porch at night so the condensation would not freeze the next morning. On the third morning, at -17, it fired perfectly on big Sask., 11-point that was following a doe.

Yes, I like muzzleloader hunting.

So, if bow season has been frustrating for you, now is the time to get even. The bag limit is three does per day and no more than two bucks for the entire season. Please, wear your safety harness and at least 500-square inches of blaze orange on your head and upper body. Both could save your life.

Good luck and good hunting.

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John Sloan - Outdoors
John L. Sloan, Outdoors
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