My friend Erin just sent me over this article she saw in the NY Times online. It is all about a group of folks hunting with muzzleloaders in Minnesota – and also provides a limited overview of what blackpowder/muzzleloader hunting is all about.
The images in the slide show will probably offend some purists in our camp, but all-in-all, I have to say its a fairly positive article coming from a news source that isn’t generally positive about hunting or gun rights.
Here are some highlights –
Past Is Back: Deer Hunting Frontier Style
IT was near sunset, a gray Saturday in the Chengwatana State Forest of east-central Minnesota, and a pair of whitetailed deer crunched through the forest. Frank Badowicz — clothed in leather and wool, moccasins on his feet — raised his gun and aimed, sighting down a doe.
Mr. Badowicz pulled the trigger. A spark and ignition, a roar from the barrel, and a musket ball flew — a sphere of lead exploding outward through smooth-bore metal in a chain reaction that’s centuries old but in revival today.
In the past decade, muzzleloading guns — a broad class of firearms loaded from the front, open end of the barrel — have been bought by tens of thousands of American hunters. A nostalgia for old ways, as well as new laws in states like Minnesota, where a special extended deer season bans modern rifles but is open to muzzleloaders, has prompted a rise in the popularity of guns long seen as obsolete.
More than three million hunters and shooting enthusiasts in the United States now put black powder and bullets down their barrels, mash the ingredients in with a ramrod, and hold up the gun to fire. That’s according to the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association, an organization based in Friendship, Ind., that has 20,000 members.
Bill Young, a friend hunting with Mr. Badowicz and me during a special early season in October, said: “I appreciate the challenge of muzzleloading. You get one shot, and you’ve got to make that one shot count.”
Reloading the traditional guns that Mr. Young and Mr. Badowicz use takes up to 30 seconds, a multistep process that employs a powder horn, oiled cotton patches, lead balls, a gunpowder vial to measure and pour, and a pick to free soot accumulation in the flashpan. A ramrod then packs the ordnance down with a few taps, by which time the deer you were hunting — like the sunset doe Mr. Badowicz took a shot at — has long since bounded away.
The crew — friends and members of a local gun club — drove up from the Twin Cities to hunt for two days in mid-October. They wore blaze-orange vests with wool and leather clothing and carried traditional accouterments like glass flasks for water. Mr. Badowicz shouldered elk-hide satchels instead of a backpack. Like many muzzleloaders, they often run a vein of historical re-enactment through their outings, their hunting style little different from that practiced a century and more ago by settlers in the same woods.
I think it’s great to get positive national exposure for a our hobby. I don’t know about ya’ll – but I am looking forward to getting into some “buckskins hunting” this season!