Catching the flintlock fever and some tips for success


There’s just something fulfilling in a primal sort of way about splitting firewood by hand, processing game after a successful hunt … and hunting deer with a flintlock muzzleloader.
In these sort of firearms, pulling the trigger causes an external piece of flint to strike a metal plate (called the frizzen.) This creates sparks, which then ignite highly combustible gunpowder in a small flash pan. This all happens outside of the gun barrel, meaning the process can be affected by outside sources such as the weather, wind and nerves.
The quick flash ultimately ignites more traditional gunpowder packed in the muzzleloader’s barrel, which, in turn, forces out the projectile (usually a lead ball).
While you are welcome to hunt with a muzzleloader during the upcoming rifle deer season, the apex of flintlock hunting comes in the late season, which runs from the day after Christmas through Saturday, Jan. 15.
The late season is something every hunter should experience at least once.
For those hunting deer with muzzleloader at this time of year, a regular resident hunting license can be used for either an antlered or antlerless deer in any wildlife management unit in the state. Also, the 250-square-inch fluorescent orange regulation is waived for late-season muzzleloader hunters, adding to the rustic overall experience.
Outside of the overall nuts and bolts of flintlock muzzloaders, hunting with one can definitely test your patience. Rain or snow can dampen the gun powder and cause misfires. Wind can blow away flash powder in mid-shot. Muzzleloaders have a much closer range, forcing hunters to get more up close and personal with the deer they pursue.
But, like hand-splitting firewood, there is a certain sort of pride that goes with the extra work involved in muzzleloader hunting. It forces you to become closer to the natural world around you — more aware of all the elements. And for those fortunate enough to harvest a whitetail with a muzzleloader, it can be a crowning moment that very few hunting experiences can match.

Some tips, courtesy of

♦ After you have loaded your gun, run a pick through the touchhole to clear any powder from pan to main powder charge. This keeps it from acting like a fuse, creating a delay.
♦ During hunting season, don’t use a heavy oil to protect the bore, use WD-40 and wipe clean. This will leave a protective film and it will also dry out.
♦ Before loading, use a CO2 discharger to clear touchhole and breach of rifle.
♦ Learn how to knap flint with an antler or copper rod. This works much better than the little knapping hammers that most use. The antler or copper will grip the flint much better than steel. It’s very simple, place a heavy leather pad in your palm and place flint edge toward you holding the back edge of flint with your fingers. Push flakes off the edge with the sharpened antler until you are satisfied with edge.
♦ When conditions are especially damp, change the priming powder every 30 minutes or every hour, just to make sure you get a flash in the pan, if you are unsure about your flintlock going off.
♦ Also, roll up a piece of leather and fix it just so to keep moisture out when not hunting. Put it against the touchhole very close and drop the hammer down to hold it in place with the frizzen in the open position. This also keeps the rifle from accidentally getting a spark from somewhere and going off. You can also use a cow’s knee, (protective cover for the whole lock area).
♦ Keep special attention to your flint (tightness in lock) and that it scrapes across the whole surface area of frizzen.
♦ Don’t worry about the muzzle too much except if you are in a total downpour — then do like the soldiers used to do and point the muzzle down and flip the rifle with trigger guard up and securely lock under an arm pit.
♦ When hunting in a blind or tree, etc., try to keep powder in pan away from touchhole, this aides in a faster ignition — remember the fuse effect.

~ by zaktansky on November 20, 2014.

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