Posts Tagged black powder

At the Range

I spent Saturday shooting with my hunting buddy. Both Marlins are shooting great at 50 yards. Took some shots with the 50 cal plains rifle (there is only 3 1/2 months until muzzleloading deer season by the way!). And we did a bunch of pistol shooting.

I’m planning on taking my conceal carry exam this summer, but I need more practice before taking the class. I don’t get around to shooting my handguns as much as I should. Keith gave me some good tips and I did pretty well. Another couple of times at the range and I think I’ll be ready. I do need to find a class and get signed up for it. I need to do some looking around and find out who teaches it around here.

The Marlins are doing great so far. Each time I get them out, I’m more and more impressed. No wonder this rifle has been so popular for so many decades. We got the iron sights adjusted for 50 yards. I managed a bullseye at 50 yards with the scoped Marlin. A few more sessions at the range at 100 yards should do the trick for those two rifles.

Keith brought out his 30-40 Krag and put a few rounds down range. What a sweet shooting gun that is. First time out with it and it hardly needed adjusting. Smoothest bolt action I’ve ever felt.

I also managed to get some shooting done with the Plains Rifle. I was pleased with the results, especially after the disappointing year I had last deer hunting season. I seemed to get a better understanding of the site picture. Now I just need more range time to make sure I’m repeating the results.

So, all in all, it was a great day. There’s just nothing better than spending a day shooting with a buddy. I wished I would have remembered a camera. We shot up an old computer of his (sorry Dell!). The Dell logo made a great target circle. And for me, destroying a computer like that just puts my soul at peace. A 50 cal round ball sure puts a nice big hole in the thing!

Keep your powder dry.

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The Words of a Good Wife

The other day at lunch with my wife, I heard the words that every guy wants to hear…

No, not that, the other words…

OK, let me rephrase. I heard the words every hunter or shooter wants to hear.

“I think we need another rifle. I don’t want to shoot the ones you have,” she said.

Internally, my mind is jumping for joy like a 12 year old at Christmas.

“Oh yeah? What are you thinking about?” I said very cavalier.

Basically, I got out of her that she doesn’t want to shoot black powder, which is 2 of my 3 rifles. The other is an old military surplus, 303 British Enfield. Evidently, those just aren’t sexy enough for her. But she does want a big enough caliber that I, uhm, we can be use it for deer hunting. Yay for me!

Fine. I can go sexy. Nothing’s sexier in my mind than a lever action rifle. I’ve had my eye on a Marlin for quite some time. So I do what I normally do (and what any hunter in my situation would do), I run with it. I’m going to see this one to the end. I’ll either get another rifle or I won’t, but it won’t be for lack of trying. So, I’m showing her pictures and checking auction prices.

“Oh yeah, that’s nice,” she says, barely glancing at the plethora of photos on my computer screen. Now she’s the cavalier one. Man, women are frustrating sometimes.

Well, on to the good stuff. Let’s say I go with a Marlin 336? I knew they came in 30-30 caliber, my brother hunts with one. Didn’t realize they came in .32 or .35 Remington. Not even sure what those rounds are. So which round? 30-30 or .35 Remington? More running, more research. The Marlin has a great history, being made for a century or so. Fit’s into the gun philosophy fine (of using something with a history, a story to tell).

Maybe I should look into a Winchester rifle? I’m sure it will cost more than the Marlin. That is one thing she stipulated, it can’t be expensive.

I suppose I’m going to have to let her be a part of the decision here? I know, bad thought… bad, bad thought!

So give me your thoughts. I’m probably going to have to go used since I have a price limit. And a used Marlin fits into that price limit fine. Anyone have any thoughts on 30-30 versus .35 Remington?

Meanwhile, I’ve got some convincing to do.

Keep your powder dry and “watch your top knot”.

Follow up, 1/8/2010: Here is a great write up on the Marlin 336 vs. Winchester 94 over at the Guns and Shooting site. Even the author like the Marlin in the end. Although I do agree with him that that 94 stock does look better.


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Hunting Site Review: Black Powder Notebook

Black Powder NotebookOne of the things I want to do with this blog in the new year is add reviews of other hunting related web sites. Well, it’s the new year, so here’s our first review.

I was turned on to this site by my hunting buddy and co-blogger, Keith. The name of the site is Black Powder Notebook and it chronicles the adventures of Bob Spencer as he sets out to hunt and camp as our forefathers did as this country was being founded. He strives to re-enact exactly as a late 1700’s homesteader or pioneer would have hunted. He has logged many of his treks through the years and it’s very entertaining reading.

He seems to favor squirrel hunting (something I’ve never done but am curious after reading his site) .and he begins his first article reminiscing about how he came to be at that moment while hunting squirrels. He talks about how he got started in the black powder world his love of flintlocks. What I like is how he’s out to just do just more than hunt, but to experience it from a different viewpoint. I like these quotes (from various articles):

“As each new aspect of the subject opened to me, and I acquired new skills associated with it, I began to have a better understanding of our ancestors. It is impossible to know what they and their life were really like, but muzzle loading has opened a small window into the past for me, and I thoroughly enjoy the view.”

“Sitting there under that walnut tree, I realized with surety that black powder had been for me a siren song, leading me inexorably onward to more wonderful experiences. Because of it, I have become a better, more thoughtful hunter, a more involved and knowledgeable citizen, a happier and more satisfied person.”

A Siren Song

“I truly do enjoy hunting them more than killing them, and I’ll miss all those early mornings, watching the woods come alive.”

Perfect Doe Hunt

“The center seam elk skin moccasins made ala Mark Baker may be the best thing I’ve ever made. They are, I suspect, the real secret to my enjoyment of this season, because there’s something elemental about traipsing through the woods and streams with nothing between you and the good earth but a soft layer of elk hide. Contact…I can’t describe it better.”

Special Turkey Season

One of my favorite stories is Squirrel Stew, a story about an overnight trek where he describes the entire trip. It sounds so peaceful and relaxing, enough so that I envy him. I would really love to experience the outdoors in that way.

Along with his hunting stories are some black powder related articles on loads, shooting, fire making, tomahawk throwing and casting round balls over a camp fire (which is another thing I’ve been wanting to try my hand at).

This is a great site to get in the mind of a hunter and outdoorsman. It’s refreshing to read about someone who enjoys being out in nature more than just bagging a trophy buck. It’s a feeling we attempt to reach at our deer camps as well, but I think Bob has us beat, by a really long shot. Even if you’re not into black powder hunting or shooting, this site is a definite must read.

Hunting Site Review: Black Powder Notebook

One of the things I want to do with this blog in the new year is add reviews of other hunting related web sites. Well, it’s the new year, so here’s our first review.

I was turned on to this site by my hunting buddy and co-blogger, Keith. The name of the site is Black Powder Notebook (http://home.insightbb.com/~bspen/) and it chronicles the adventures of Bob Spencer as he sets out to hunt and camp as our forefathers did as this country was being founded. He strives to reenact exactly as a late 1700’s homesteader or pioneer would have hunted. He has logged many of his treks through the years and it’s very entertaining reading.

He seems to favor squirrel hunting (something I’ve never done but am curious after reading his site) .and he begins his first article reminiscing (http://home.insightbb.com/~bspen/song.html) about how he came to be at that moment while hunting squirrels. He talks about how he got started in the black powder world his love of flintlocks. What I like is how he’s out to just do just more than hunt, but to experience it from a different viewpoint. I like these quotes (from various articles):

As each new aspect of the subject opened to me, and I acquired new skills associated with it, I began to have a better understanding of our ancestors. It is impossible to know what they and their life were really like, but muzzle loading has opened a small window into the past for me, and I thoroughly enjoy the view.”

Sitting there under that walnut tree, I realized with surety that black powder had been for me a siren song, leading me inexorably onward to more wonderful experiences. Because of it, I have become a better, more thoughtful hunter, a more involved and knowledgeable citizen, a happier and more satisfied person.”

Siren Song – http://home.insightbb.com/~bspen/song.html

I truly do enjoy hunting them more than killing them, and I’ll miss all those early mornings, watching the woods come alive.”

Perfect Doe Hunt – http://home.insightbb.com/~bspen/PerfectDoeHunt.html

The center seam elk skin moccasins made ala Mark Baker may be the best thing I’ve ever made. They are, I suspect, the real secret to my enjoyment of this season, because there’s something elemental about traipsing through the woods and streams with nothing between you and the good earth but a soft layer of elk hide. Contact…I can’t describe it better.”

Special Turkey Season – http://home.insightbb.com/~bspen/SpecialSeason.html

One of my favorite stories is Squirrel Stew (http://home.insightbb.com/~bspen/squirrel.html), a story about an overnight trek where he describes the entire trip. It sounds so peaceful and relaxing, enough so that I envy him. I would really love to experience the outdoors in that way.

Along with his hunting stories are some black powder related articles on loads, shooting, fire making, tomahawk throwing and casting round balls over a fire (which is another thing I’ve been wanting to try my hand at) (http://home.insightbb.com/~bspen/runningball.html).

So, this is a great site to get in the mind of a hunter and outdoorsman. It’s refreshing to read about someone who enjoys being out in nature more than just bagging a trophy buck. It’s a feeling we attempt to reach at our deer camps as well, but I think Bob has us beat, by a really long shot. Even if you’re not into black powder hunting or shooting, this site is a definite must read.

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I’ve Got A Fever… Buck Fever That Is

I just finished my third season deer hunting and I’m having a hard time deciding how I feel about the outcome it. For the most part, I’m very disappointed. I came home empty handed after spending about eight days in the field altogether between the two seasons. And that doesn’t even count my scouting time out there. But on the other hand, I experienced a lot of pretty cool things. So let me start from the beginning.

I started out in September during Kansas’ muzzleloading season. We had scoped out a couple of good looking spots, seen some deer and lots of sign. My first four days of that season were a bust. The prairie seemed to swallow all the deer we had seen through out the summer. I went back out the last weekend of muzzleloading season only to blow a great shot at a 10 point just 30 yards out. I won’t go through it again, you can read about it here.

OK, learn my lessons, spend some more time at the gun range, there’s always rifle season in December.

Two long months later I’m back out in the field. I’m still using the 50 caliber plains rifle as I have a muzzleloader only any species tag. My first morning out, I go back to the spot of the blown September shot and sure enough, I rattle an eight point in right at sun up.

It was my first time with rattling. Plus I wasn’t sure if there was still enough rut going on for it to work. The whitetail buck came up from my right (south of me) and I was looking away for the most part as generally, the deer come from the north on this stand. I didn’t realize he was even there until he was about 10 feet from me. I realized he was there when I saw deer tail running away from me. He ran about 30 yards out up on top of the ridge, stopped and watched me from head on.

Now, it took me a few minutes to get my heart out of my throat. Well, actually, I never did. The buck shook me so much by just appearing like that. It’s amazing how they can appear like phantoms some times. So now the buck is just standing there watching me and I’m trying to do a 180 degree turn so I can get my rifle up on him. And how is it they always come up from the way I’m not looking?

It took me a few minutes of moving very slowly between times of him looking away or down. I was moving in fractions of an inch sometimes. I finally get to where I’ve got him in my sites, but I’m a nervous wreck after all that and my heart is still beating like mad in my ears. Plus, he’s still head on at me. I’m a little panicky because I can’t decide where to aim. I know what to do when they’re broadside, but hadn’t considered a head on shot. So I just keep aiming and waiting to see if he’ll turn.

He finally turns and gives me a beauty of a shot. I aim… BLAM! He disappears over the ridge and I sit and wait for a minute then decide to belly crawl up the ridge so I can see over. I glass him down in the valley (or what passes for one in SW KS) and watch him for about 15-20 minutes. I watch him lay down in this draw and I’m elated thinking I took him down.

I mark the spot, sit down and drink a cup of coffee. Take care of some other business (you know) and decide to go investigate. I marked him about 300 yards out. I’m getting a little nervous walking towards him because I’m not picking up a blood trail but hope that maybe he ran a little erratic rather than the direct route I’m going. I’m walking up to the spot I marked only to see him jump up and run off over another ridge (in a field I don’t have permission on). He had jumped a fence prior to laying down, so I back track to see if I can pick up a blood trail but I can’t find one. I go back to where I shot at him and can’t pick up one there either. I missed again.

I managed to rattle another buck in the next evening at another stand. This one was a smaller mule deer, probably a 3×3 (which still looks pretty impressive). I was amazed it worked really. He came in over a ridge and was very cautious. I could only see him from the neck up for quite awhile. Funny thing, as soon as I saw his head, my heart is banging back in my ears again. I’m trying to calm myself down but all I can think is “here we go again” and for a moment, I almost decide to not shoot. Not sure I can take the disappointment of missing again.

But that only lasts for a moment.

I try to settle down as he approaches my stand. I’m going through all the stuff to remember… aim off his shoulder… keep it low… squeeze don’t pull… calm down, you know what to do. You know, all the stuff everyone tells you to do.

Finally the buck is broadside and in my sweet spot again, probably just under 40 yards. I set up my shot, squeeze the trigger… BLAM! The muley scampers off back the way he came. And no blood trail again. I look for quite awhile but the sun had since gone down. I can’t find anything remotely looking like a blood trail.

Dejected, I walk back to deer camp. I actually think about telling everyone I didn’t see anything, but I come clean. The next morning I go back out for the last time this year. This is it. About an hour after sun up the rain and sleet starts coming down. Black powder doesn’t do to well in the wet. The stuff wasn’t supposed to show until later in the day and I didn’t have any of my rain gear with me. I walk back to camp again truly disappointed.

I’ve thought about those three missed shots a lot and played them over in my head again and again trying to figure out what I did wrong. I’m sure it all comes down to my marksmanship. I’m totally amazed that I was able to rattle those two bucks in, that was first and definitely a thrill.

All three times I had a hard time getting my breathing under control and that heart-beating-in-my-ears thing is a bit distracting when trying to concentrate on shot placement. The other thing that I’m wondering is if I’m just not that confident with this rifle yet. The doe I took during my first season hunting was with my Enfield and I had put a ton of lead down range with it before taking it out in the field. I’m pretty confident with shot placement on that gun. Not so much with the Plains rifle. I’ve shot a lot with it, but I’m no where near as confident with it compared to the Enfield.

So that’s what I’m going with and that’s what I’m going to work on before next September in 2010. I’m planning on doing some work to it, changing the sites to a more traditional site and reworking the stock finish. Hopefully the new sites will help and I can get more comfortable with it.

So my seasons over, there isn’t any meat in the freezer – at least not venison. But, I’ll be back next year, because I’ve got a fever and the only cure is more deer hunting.

Keep your powder dry and “watch your top knot”.

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Deer Hunting With The Northwest Trade Gun

So Bill asked me to post a story of hunting with my North West trade Gun. First the history lesson. I hope this doesn’t sound too lame or condescending.

What is commonly known as the North West Trade Gun (NWG) was developed around 300 years ago by, you guessed it, The Northwest Company! It was designed to be a cheap weapon to trade with native populations around the world.

The NWG was a smoothbore flintlock made by various manufacturers in calibers ranging from .45 (.410 gauge, I know .410 is a caliber not a gauge) to around .72 caliber (12 Gauge). The NWG was crudely made, wood to metal fit was poor; the stock was almost strait. The butt was strait. The butt plate was nailed on with horse shoe nails and the wood had no figure.

However, the lock was made from the same molds as the British Brown Bess musket. The NWG was (contrary to pop literature), easy to use, quite “pointable” and very reliable. It had to be. A gun in the farthest reaches of the Canadian wilderness which did not fire due to lack of maintenance etc. was not going to be of much use to a native whose livelihood and life depended on it.

The NWG can be recognized by the distinctive brass serpent on the off side from the lock. The brass serpent was a sign of quality to native populations. Old photos even show natives wearing the serpents around their neck for adornment (kind of like 1980’s rappers wore Mercedes symbols around their necks).

Well it appears I write the same way I talk (too much). So I’ll just move on to a description of my NWG and tell you about my hunt.

I bought my NWG from North Star West which makes an excellent kit. My father, Wes Lumry put it together for me and the only way it differs from an original is in the fit & finish. My dad has been building muzzleloading rifles for forty years. The fit and finish is probably the best of any NWG in history!

My NWG is .65 caliber (16 gauge). Keeping with Native American tradition we cut the barrel from 36″ to 30″ (That KILLED my dad!). Then we hammered tacks all over it. Dad mad a leather/red wool sling for it also.

The first hunting season I had my NWG was also the first season I decided to “hunt only for horns.” That’s right, this year I was holding out for a MONSTER BUCK!

The first evening of muzzleloading deer season I walked across the road from my house to a corn circle (do you like the way I casually let the reader know I live in the middle of hunting paradise!?). And settled in to a corner. I was soon surrounded by 18 (I am not kidding) does and one spike buck. I just sat there putting a bead on various deer and thinking of where I would place my shot if indeed that deer was a MONSTER! Ultimately the sun set and I returned home and reported the evening’s activities to my dad (visiting from Wichita).

The next morning me and my old man walked to the same corner of field. Soon three does appear walking from west to east. The set up is about perfect. The sun is at our backs, no wind, and deer coming strait to us.

But remember, I am only hunting horns. I’m waiting for the MONSTER! The does stop short and begin grazing about 40 yards in front of us.

The following conversation takes place over approximately the next 15 minutes (cut to hunting show TV whispers).

DAD– Hey Keith, you gonna shoot one of those deer?

KEITH– No dad they’re does. I’m holding out for a buck!

DAD– I think you should shoot one of those does.

KEITH– I told you I’m going to shoot a buck, it’s only the second day of the season!

DAD– I think you should shoot one of those does!

KEITH– No response.

DAD– Hell, I built that gun! I should at least get to see you shoot one of those does!

KEITH– No response.

DAD– Go ahead, shoot one of those does!

DAD– I can’t believe you’re not going to shoot one of those does!

DAD– After I built that gun for you…

Meanwhile those does are still THERE! By now dad is yelling at me (okay, not really, but you know what I mean).

DAD– I’m not getting any younger. I don’t know how many hunting seasons I have left….

(Okay, so he probably didn’t say that last line, but it was definitely implied!).

DAD– Go ahead, I want to see you shoot one of those does with that smoothbore flintlock.

DAD– That I built!

Damn those does! They’re still there! They’re sooo close! And Dad WILL-NOT-STOP-TALKING!!!

I break like a number 2 pencil.

I throw my Northwest Trade Gun (which DAD built! Did I mention that?) to my shoulder put a bead on the nearest doe and fire. The world is consumed by smoke, sparks and fire. I can’t see…

YOU GOT HER! Yells dad.

I pace off forty yards to a huge splash of blood.

I am on the edge of the corn circle, the scene is somewhat macabre. On both sides of the corn stalks it looks like someone has entered the standing corn with a garden hose in each hand spraying blood. The ball must have gone clean through. I am so fascinated that I almost step on the deer.

So I’m standing over the deer with mixed emotions. The NWG had performed flawlessly and was massively lethal. I had a successful hunt. My dad was fit to bust over the performance of “HIS” gun. But it’s only the second morning of muzzleloading deer season and my hunt is over. With no MONSTER BUCK!

Oh well at least that corn fed doe was delicious.

And I could always hunt for horns the next year… but that’s another story.

Lum

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Fall Deer Camp 2009 Revisited

Sunrise on the final Saturday

Sunrise over the waterhole on the final Sunday of the season.

I was able to make it for the final weekend of Muzzleloading Deer Season in hopes that I still might be able to get a shot. But, not being able to leave until after work on Friday, I was only going to get a day and half to hunt. The weather proved to be ideal for the hunt. A cold front moved in Friday night and couple that with a full moon and a clear night, the conditions to get the deer moving.

I did see a lot of deer that morning, all whitetails. Unfortunately, they all stayed out of the field I was in and ran the fences to the north and east of me (which we don’t have permission to hunt). A couple of does started to venture in, but were startled by something and changed their mind.

I left around mid-morning to grab some lunch. I had planned on coming back out later in the afternoon as their were a pair of whitetail bucks that seemed to be coming to the water hole every 3 days in the evenings. I’ve observed this behaviour before, noticing that deer seemed to be on some type of schedule like that and would be seen every 2-3 days. Saturday would be the third day for this pair of bachelor bucks. My hunting buddy and I set back out around 5 to see if it would hold true.

I started to get apprehensive as sunset approached and we hadn’t seen anything up to then. But like clockwork, the two bucks showed about 5 minutes after sundown, rounding a ridge just to the north of our stand. We were sitting in a washout on the side of ridge about 10 feet above a couple of paths leading up to the windmill watering hole.

We watched the bucks pick the closest path to us and realized they were going to pass within 30 yards of out stand. My heart and breathing is racing at this point. My first shot at a buck! I mean, I’m really panting, like I had run a marathon. I’m getting worried they’re going to hear me. My mind is screaming at me, “Don’t move! Sit still! Why are you breathing so hard?”

I pick my shooting lane. I wait until the biggest of the 2 clears a large sunflower plant I’m sitting behind. I see his head, his shoulders. I pick my spot. Wait. Squeeze.

The buck flinched, did a 180 and put the spurs down. My partner had waited for me to take the shot. I hear his ring out and see the puff of dust in a slight ridge over the top of the buck’s back. He’s at full gallop, his white tail flying high. We had both missed!

I have no excuses, total newbie, greenhorn mistake. My buddie’s shot was a running shot. When I fired, he was barely moving. And I should’ve waited a couple more seconds to get a good broadside. Instead, in my excitement and nervousness, I took a quartered shot and probably went underneath him. How disappointing! It was like I had forgotten everything when I sighted that buck in.

We went back out Sunday morning, but nothing seemed to be moving. We left around 10 as I had to get my gear packed up to head back home. The season was over. I still had loads of fun and learned much. And I still have December to give it another try. Like I’ve said before, it’s why they call it hunting and not getting. Hopefully, I’ll have a chance to redeem myself in December.

Keep your powder dry.

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Hunting Info From Around The Web

Here’s several stories and articles from around the web I thought were interesting.

I think these guys do a great service, Outdoor Mentors

Why I hunt. It’s a little sappy at times, but interesting. Other good ones are here http://www.fieldandstream.com/articles/hunting/2002/06/why-i-hunt and here http://www.biggamehunt.net/sections/Off_Season/Why-I-Hunt-01190907.html

I’ve always wanted to learn how to tan hides, it doesn’t look too hard, just very time consuming.

The Kansas Upland hunting season outlook is shaping up to be a pretty good season and here is another regional report.

Deer population efforts and how hunting and hunters help: http://www.groundreport.com/Business/How-Deer-Hunting-Preserves-The-Deer-Herds/2908324 and http://bullsandbeavers.com/2009/07/03/for-the-ages/

An awesome sounding turkey and wild rice soup recipe.

This guy has some great black powder and muzzleloading information.

And then some that’s obviously a concern of mine, gun control: The Downside of Gun Control and The Media Bias Against Guns

And this both amuses and horrifies me, The Deer Hunter.

That’s all for now, keep your powder dry.

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