Every deer hunter should own and hunt with a muzzle loader.
No, I should rephrase that.
Since most deer hunters don’t hunt during black powder-only deer season, it can be the best time to put some venison in the freezer and a rack on the wall. At least that is the case in Gear Report’s native North Carolina. The hunting season progression in NC is pretty typical:
- Archery only from Mid September through late October or Early November, depending on region.
- Black powder starts from Late September to Early November, depending on region. Lasts about 2 weeks.
- Gun starts mid-October to Late November, depending on region.
- All Deer hunting with firearms stops no later than Jan 1.
Is it worth it for only 2 weeks per year?
With only 2 weeks out of a 3.5 month deer season, how can we say that it is worth the time and expense to acquire and get proficient with a black powder muzzle loader?
Simply put, opportunity!
A VERY small percentage of deer hunters even go in the woods during Archery Only season. A relatively small percentage will start during black power / muzzle loader season. Leaving Gun season as the time when everybody and his sister are in the woods spooking the deer. If you wait until Gun season, then:
a) the bow and black powder hunters will have already taken some of the deer,
b) you will be competing with FAR more hunters for the remaining deer, and
c) the deer that are left will be more skittish, more experienced, and smarter, making them harder to hunt.
Even if you don’t take a deer during muzzle loader season, it is worthwhile to spend time better understanding the deer in your area, their habits, travel patterns, etc. Heck, I advocate getting in the deer stand during archery season, even if you don’t have a bow, simply to scout your area and become better prepared for Gun season.
Who should NOT try to hunt with a Black Powder rifle?
This is a similar answer as I would give for any weapon. Anyone who doesn’t learn their weapon’s capabilities and build the skill to make clean, ethical shots when the adrenaline of the hunt kicks in, should not hunt with a black powder rifle. Or any other rifle, for that matter. I know, this is a bold statement. However, it is even more important with a muzzle loaded rifle that makes follow-up shots time consuming and difficult. If you can’t mortally wound the deer on the first shot, then a black powder rifle probably isn’t a great choice for you to hunt with.
Aren’t black powder rifles hard to clean and maintain?
Relative to cartridge fired rifles, either yes, or somewhat harder.
However, some types are far easier to clean and maintain than others. Modern Inline muzzle loaders, for example, have a breech plug that is removable, allowing easy access to clean the face and fire hole in the plug, as well as for cleaning the bore of the barrel.
Other designs may require removing the barrel from the stock, removing the primer/cap nipples, and submerging them in a warm, soapy bath, while a wet bore mop is used to thoroughly remove all remnants of gunpowder before it starts corroding the barrel, followed by proper oiling or a muzzle loader specific corrosion protectant.
Best place to buy a black powder muzzle loader?
We are big fans of BlueRidgeFirearms.com
The Gear Report team would like to thank the fine folks at BlueRidgeFirearms.com for providing a CVA .50 Caliber Optima V2 in Stainless Steel/Realtree Green with a Konus Pro Scope and carrying case. We are a bit different than most review websites in that Gear Report won’t guarantee a good review in return for a retailer providing products to test. This scares away some retailers, and that is fine with us. We only want to be associated with great retailers that know their products and stand behind them. In our dealings with Blue Ridge Firearms we have been impressed and feel confident in recommending them to the Gear Report nation. Unlike many big box retailers, Blue Ridge Firearms is run by folks that know their stuff and can be trusted to steer customers towards the right product to meet their needs. Please check out BlueRidgeFirearms.com and tell them your read about them at Gear Report.