I had a nice start to the season today. I jumped two smaller antler-less deer from their beds this morning, but was not close enough for a shot. Then tonight when I was walking on a trail in the same area I spooked a lone deer. The deer did not instantly run, but it was about 100 yards away and through the woods; so no shot. I feel like the lone deer had a high probability of being a buck, but I was not able to see its head.
I just got a question from a reader asking if sabots are allowed in Pennsylvania’s second muzzleloader season (which just opened today).
The answer is that in the second muzzleloader season sabots are allowed. There was a time when it was roundball only, but a few years ago they changed it to allow other projectiles. So, this means you can use either projectile. When picking the projectile be sure to match it to your barrel twist for maximum accuracy. Below is quoted from page 45 of the hunting digest.
Flintlock Muzzleloader Season: Flintlock ignition, single-barrellong gun, 44 caliber or larger, or 50 caliber or larger handgun, usingsingle projectile ammunition. It is unlawful to use telescopic sights.Peep sights are permitted.
A good day of hunting today; I saw 5 turkeys, 6 grouse, and 2 deer. One of the deer was about a 4 point buck and would have given the nicest shot ever had it been an anlterless deer. The other deer I saw just before quitting time running away as I left the woods, I was not able to identify it. All of the grouse but one I saw when they flushed, the last one I saw before it flushed all puffed up with its tail fanned out.
I had two deer cross in front of me on the road on the way home in the truck. One was a small antlerless deer, but the other was a buck, a very very big buck, however, the ground where both of them were at is posted ground for a private hunting club.
Fall break ended for me today so its off to college tomorrow. Hopefully, I will make it home for a Friday evening and Saturday hunt before the season ends.
Today I did a lot of sneaking through the woods; it was a rainy day so it was a good day for that type of hunting. I saw quite a few squirrels, but no deer. At the end of the rainy day my gun went off with out hesitation, which is a huge improvement over last year.
I had a good start to Muzzleloader Season. At about 7:30 AM three antlerless deer came out of the woods and started moving towards me as they were feeding. One of them finally stopped about 17 yards away from me presenting a shot between a couple trees. I took the shoot with my flintlock and had great ignition and had a solid hand when the gun fired; I felt sure I had made a hit on this deer. I took time to clean the barrel good with a wet patch and a few dry ones and then reloaded. Then I walked to the spot where the deer had been standing and was unable to find any blood or hair. My bullet had left a trace on the ground on beyond the deer so I think I made clean miss. Later that day I looked around the area where the deer had headed for after I shot and still did not find anything, so I am convinced I missed.
Later that day when I walking through some brush I saw a buck; probably had about 5 or 6 points. A few minutes later I saw an antlerless deer that seemed like it might have been a button buck, however, it did not present me with a shot.
On the plus side at the end of the day when I fired my gun, to empty it again, it went off without hesitation. Since I am on fall break from college I have Monday and Tuesday to try again! So, I am really looking forwards to spending some more time in the woods!
I visited Cooperstown Trading Post the other day to find some parts for a muzzleloader I am building. The store had a surprisingly large inventory of parts for gun building despite its small size. There were also quite a few muzzleloaders for sale both production and custom, some of which the owner build himself. One of the parts I was looking for was a butt plate, which the owner helped me find a few different options for. He even found a CVA trigger guard for my gun which is an old CVA Frontier kit with a bunch on missing parts. I was surprised at the selection of parts he had and his low prices. He charged me about $8 dollars for the trigger guard which would be about $20 on ebay. There was pretty much everything needed in that store for building a traditional long rifle, which I might someday take advantage of and build a real long rifle.
Cooperstown Trading Post Ltd.
515 Steiner Bridge Road | Valencia Pa 16059
412.670.0141 (office) | 724.586.7220 (home)
When I was browsing the muzzleloadingforum.com I came across a good post telling how to determine the rate of twist. Most production muzzleloaders gun have this stamped right on the barrel, but some do not. While some people might think the rate of twist is unimportant it really is a very important thing to know about your gun. For example, most inline muzzleloaders will have a twist rate like 1:32, 1:28, or 1:24. In contrast, a production flintlock most likely will have a 1:48 twist. Or, on the far end of the scale a custom built gun it likely to have a much slower twist such as 1:66 or 1:70. What do those numbers mean? Well, the first number, which you probably have noticed is always 1, stands for the rifling in the barrel rotating once 360 degrees. The second number stands for how many inches of barrel it would take for that rotation to happen. Now, not all barrels are longer than the second number meaning the rifling never makes a complete rotation. This causes a problem for someone wanting to measure the rate of twist since just putting a ramrod with a cleaning jag on it down the barrel and pulling it out will not cause it to rotate all the way. This is where the forum post by Birddog6 comes in handy for measuring those short barrels. Below is a modified version of his original post he gave me permission to use.
On a Clean Barrel, push a snug Oiled Patched Jag in to the breech.
Take a piece of electrical tape or masking tape & tape around the rod at the muzzle, bring the two edges of the tape up & pinch together, making a Flag at the 12 o’clock position.
Now slowly pull the rod out (letting the rod rotate) til the flag is exactly at 3 o’clock position.
Measure the distance from the muzzle up to the Flag.
If you pulled it out 12″, take the 12″ times the 4 (as you did 1/4th rotation) = 48, you have a 1 in 48 twist.
If it came out 15″, 15 x 4 = 60, you have a 1-60 twist.
16.5″ is a 1-66 twist
17.5 is a 1-70 twist.
So now that you have measured your barrel’s rate of twist how can you use that information to make yourself a better shot? Well, certain projectiles “like” certain rates of twist. For example, the round ball is most stable at a slow rate of twist such as 1:66. Sabots and conicals on the other hand need much more spin to fly accurately thus they are typically used in barrels with twist rates such as 1:28. That leaves the twist rate 1:48 in the somewhere in the middle between these two projectile types, which means it can shoot both projectiles OK. With practice, trial and error with different loads many people can make these in between barrels shoot surprisingly well, however, it does take some time and work to achieve results. It is possible to shoot round balls in a gun with a 1:28 twist and sabots in a gun with a 1:66 twist, but bear in mind that the load will most likely never be anywhere near as accurate as the correct projectile could be.
Instead of buying pre-lubricated patches for shooting round balls I make my own. Pillow ticking seems to be just about the correct thickness and is mostly 100% cotton (check the label just to be sure so it will not be melting down your bore). I buy my pillowing ticking from Walmart by the yard. I cut my patches square instead of round like some pre-lubed patches you can buy. Most experienced muzzleloader shooters will tell you that round or square the patches shoot the same, but if you really want to make it perfect you should cut your patches at the muzzle. The patches need to be cut big enough that the round ball is in contact with the patching on all sides, however, since it can be hard to line the ball up perfectly on the patch it is wise to cut your patches slightly larger. (Press continue reading.)
I took my flintlock out groundhog hunting today. It was a great day to go hunting; I saw two other hunters out on another hillside. When I was approaching a fence row a surprised groundhog ran to his hole and stood there looking at me. It presented a perfect shot and my pan flashed, but no boom. I re-primed and fired twice more and still could not make it go off. The groundhog grew wary of this game and went down into his hole. The lesson to be learned from this is that I should always swab my bore with rubbing alcohol followed with a dry patch instead of being lazy and just using a dry patch. This is because the oil that I put down the barrel when I fired it last must have still been in there so it dampened my powder. To finish my day I went to where I have a target set up and eventually got my gun to fire two more tries latter. 😀
While I was out hunting I also heard a turkey gobble once, so that is a positive sign for turkey season.
I found an interesting program that calculates the ballistics of a round ball. I compared the results of the program to the very little CVA gives in their sidelock manual and the program does seem to be pretty close. Here is an example output that I did with the round ball size set to .490 and the point-of-aim to 80 yards.
0 Yds: FPS/fpe = 1800/1276.4 Drop = -1.0 in. Drift = 0.0 in. TOF = 0.000
5 Yds: FPS/fpe = 1739/1191.5 Drop = -0.6 in. Drift = 0.0 in. TOF = 0.008
10 Yds: FPS/fpe = 1675/1105.2 Drop = -0.2 in. Drift = 0.0 in. TOF = 0.017
15 Yds: FPS/fpe = 1615/1027.3 Drop = 0.2 in. Drift = 0.0 in. TOF = 0.026
20 Yds: FPS/fpe = 1559/957.0 Drop = 0.5 in. Drift = 0.0 in. TOF = 0.035
25 Yds: FPS/fpe = 1500/886.5 Drop = 0.8 in. Drift = 0.0 in. TOF = 0.045
30 Yds: FPS/fpe = 1445/823.1 Drop = 1.1 in. Drift = 0.0 in. TOF = 0.055
35 Yds: FPS/fpe = 1391/762.4 Drop = 1.3 in. Drift = 0.0 in. TOF = 0.066
40 Yds: FPS/fpe = 1342/710.0 Drop = 1.4 in. Drift = 0.0 in. TOF = 0.077
45 Yds: FPS/fpe = 1299/664.4 Drop = 1.5 in. Drift = 0.0 in. TOF = 0.088
50 Yds: FPS/fpe = 1255/620.9 Drop = 1.5 in. Drift = 0.0 in. TOF = 0.100
60 Yds: FPS/fpe = 1178/546.5 Drop = 1.3 in. Drift = 0.0 in. TOF = 0.125
70 Yds: FPS/fpe = 1118/492.3 Drop = 0.8 in. Drift = 0.0 in. TOF = 0.151
80 Yds: FPS/fpe = 1072/452.7 Drop = -0.0 in. Drift = 0.0 in. TOF = 0.178
90 Yds: FPS/fpe = 1034/420.9 Drop = -1.3 in. Drift = 0.0 in. TOF = 0.207
100 Yds: FPS/fpe = 1001/394.4 Drop = -2.9 in. Drift = 0.0 in. TOF = 0.236
120 Yds: FPS/fpe = 939/347.6 Drop = -7.5 in. Drift = 0.0 in. TOF = 0.298
140 Yds: FPS/fpe = 885/308.6 Drop = -14.1 in. Drift = 0.0 in. TOF = 0.364
160 Yds: FPS/fpe = 837/275.8 Drop = -23.1 in. Drift = 0.0 in. TOF = 0.434
180 Yds: FPS/fpe = 792/246.8 Drop = -34.8 in. Drift = 0.0 in. TOF = 0.508
200 Yds: FPS/fpe = 748/220.4 Drop = -49.5 in. Drift = 0.0 in. TOF = 0.586
220 Yds: FPS/fpe = 706/196.5 Drop = -67.6 in. Drift = 0.0 in. TOF = 0.668
240 Yds: FPS/fpe = 665/174.4 Drop = -90.1 in. Drift = 0.0 in. TOF = 0.756
260 Yds: FPS/fpe = 626/154.5 Drop = -117.1 in. Drift = 0.0 in. TOF = 0.849
280 Yds: FPS/fpe = 589/136.5 Drop = -149.3 in. Drift = 0.0 in. TOF = 0.947
300 Yds: FPS/fpe = 552/120.1 Drop = -188.5 in. Drift = 0.0 in. TOF = 1.053
320 Yds: FPS/fpe = 517/105.4 Drop = -234.7 in. Drift = 0.0 in. TOF = 1.165
340 Yds: FPS/fpe = 484/ 92.1 Drop = -289.8 in. Drift = 0.0 in. TOF = 1.285
360 Yds: FPS/fpe = 451/ 80.3 Drop = -354.7 in. Drift = 0.0 in. TOF = 1.413
380 Yds: FPS/fpe = 420/ 69.6 Drop = -431.9 in. Drift = 0.0 in. TOF = 1.551
Caliber: 0.49 Inch Bullet Weighing 176.5 Grains
Aim Point: 80 Yards with 0 MPH Crosswind
Sight Plane: 1.0 Inches
Muzzle Velocity: 1800 fps
It seems like a point-of-aim at around 80 yards seems to make the round ball shoot pretty flat out to 100 yards, which would be about the farthest you would want to shot at a deer while hunting.
The round ball calculation program can be found for free here on this page.