Muzzleloader Hunting Article Posted in the New York Times!

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.

Full article

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!

Lead from bullets could pose risk

Saw this article yesterday about the risk of lead bullets in wild game. This is something near and dear to my heart, as I have moved away from using all but black powder rifles for my hunts.

Lead from bullets could pose risk for game eaters

BISMARCK, North Dakota (AP) — North Dakota health officials are recommending that pregnant women and young children avoid eating meat from wild game killed with lead bullets.

The recommendation is based on a study released Wednesday that examined the lead levels in the blood of more than 700 state residents. Those who ate wild game killed with lead bullets appeared to have higher lead levels than those who ate little or no wild game.

The elevated lead levels were not considered dangerous, but North Dakota says pregnant women and children younger than 6 should avoid eating venison harvested using lead bullets.

A separate study by Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources previously found that fragments from lead bullets spread as far as 18 inches away from the wound.

“Nobody was in trouble from the lead levels,” Pickard said. However, “the effect was small but large enough to be a concern,” he said.

Pickard said the study found “the more recent the consumption of wild game harvested with lead bullets, the higher the level of lead in the blood.”

Officials in North Dakota and other states have warned about eating venison killed with lead ammunition since the spring, when a physician conducting tests using a CT scanner found lead in samples of donated deer meat.

The findings led North Dakota’s health department to order food pantries to throw out donated venison. Some groups that organize venison donations have called such actions premature and unsupported by science.

Full article.

I think that most of us who hunt with blackpowder rifles have assumed this risk exists, but I am not sure that this would keep anyone from hunting the way they feel is right for them.

However, this is probably good news for Otter Woman, who isn’t the biggest fan of deer meat. 🙂