Muzzleloading offers hunters a unique hunting experience that’s challenging and enjoyable at the same time. Muzzleloading seasons vary depending on where you’re looking to hunt. In this guide, we’ll walk you through what muzzleloaders are, our best tips and tricks, as well as 5 reasons why you should start muzzleloader hunting!
What are Muzzleloaders?
If you’re new to hunting, you may not have heard of a muzzleloader yet. A muzzleloader is a gun that’s loaded from the open end barrel of the gun – the muzzle. You’re given a single shot at a time so it can be seen as more challenging than using other guns or weapons. If you’re just starting out, you should know that you’d typically choose between a flintlock or caplock ignition system.
A flintlock system was popular in the early 1800s and it’s when a piece of flint is wrapped around the hammer of the gun in leather. It’s used to ignite black powder sitting in the pan and shoot a flame through the barrel of the gun. It can be a bit of a tedious process and the shooter must hold still as they wait for the ignition to unfold.
The caplock system is a more modern design but still remains fairly similar to the flintlock. Instead, the ignition happens in a small nipple under the gun’s hammer. It’s a faster method of ignition and one of many methods when muzzleloading.
Since the invention of the caplock design, there have been others such as the musket cap, inline, bolt-action and pivot action muzzleloaders. Pivot action muzzleloaders have become increasingly popular due to their simple design and how easy it is to clean!
Reasons to Start Muzzleloader Hunting
1. There are fewer hunters around
With limited muzzleloader licences available each year, the chance of running into other hunters in the woods will be slim to none during muzzleloader season. When there are less humans on the trails, there’s generally more animals around.
If you’re hunting in the United States, you can find a list of the different seasons for each state here. On the other hand, if you’re hunting in Canada (Ontario specifically), you can use a muzzleloader any time of the year, except for bow-only hunting seasons. There are also muzzleloader specific seasons that sometimes vary. You can find more information about hunting with a muzzleloader in Ontario here!
2. Muzzleloaders are effective
Although some of the more primitive muzzleloaders that use flintlock ignition systems, for example, may not seem like the most effective way to hunt, the modern muzzleloaders are much different. Advances in technology and materials have made inline muzzleloaders extremely effective if you know what you’re doing!
They work well within the 150-200 yard range so they’re great to use when hunting deer.
3. Enjoy a longer season
Since muzzleloading often has specific seasons, it can often extend your typical hunting season! This will vary greatly depending on the state or province you’re hunting in. While some will extend the length of a season, other places will offer you the opportunity to use a muzzleloader to hunt a certain species.
In some states, muzzleloaders are allowed where other firearms aren’t, so it doesn’t hurt to know how to use one!
4. Use scouting missions to your advantage
Scouting late in the season is often looked past but it can be a huge advantage to any muzzleloader hunter. You’ll have a chance to take a look at the changing patterns, behaviours and bring your gun along to slowly hunt. You might just stumble upon a shot you never saw coming while you’re scouting.
5. The challenge is the best part
When you start hunting with a muzzleloader, you’ll find it can be more challenging than simply using a high-powered and scoped rifle, shotgun or other methods of hunting. While that’s the case, there’s something exciting about constantly challenging yourself as a hunter. Why wait until you lose your passion for the sport before you try to switch things up?
You’re sure to make every mistake in the book when you first start but don’t let that stop you from trying! I can assure you that you’ll thank yourself later if you stick it out. Once you get to know your muzzleloader inside and out, you’ll find any other method of hunting to be a bit of a snooze!
Learn Something New
Muzzleloader hunting may not be for everyone but you’ll never know until you try! Learning a new skill will only help you become a better hunter and increase your knowledge about the sport.
Are you excited to go hunting with a muzzleloader? When you’re ready to head out on your next hunt, use LandPass – a free app that connects hunters and anglers with exclusive land!