December 27, 2007
BuckTracker: Muzzleloader Luck
By Scott Bestul
This is the nineteen point buck I took with a muzzleloader. He unofficially green scored 200 1/2 gross inches.
Here's my story: At 6:45 A.M. on Saturday, November 17th, I heard a grunt about 200 yards away up in a small stand of trees. A few minutes later a doe came down out of the trees with this monster chasing about 20 yards behind. She was running full speed the whole time and he was mirroring her like a cutting horse with his head fully extended about 6 inches off the ground.
They ran down in a circle and went back up into the trees in a matter of
15 seconds. For the next 45 minutes, he grunted every 10 minutes until about 7:30 A.M. when the doe made another loop down out of the trees. He was right on her like he was before with what I can only describe as growling. It was a low, strong constant grunt that made me think he was actually going to try and eat that doe. Apparently she thought the same thing cause she looked like she was running for her life. Luckily she stopped in some saplings and he did likewise.
He was about 135 yards away and I was already set up with a bipod and a field chair. I am shooting a TC .50 caliber muzzleloader with a thumbhole in the gray wood grain stock. I was completely ready and waiting for this opportunity and was comfortable shooting up to 150 yards. I had my gun rested firmly and had what looked like an open shot. I squeezed the trigger and after the cloud of black powder cleared, he was still standing there. I couldn't believe it. Did I miss him or is he about to fall over dead?
I immediately started the 30-second process of reloading while watching him. After the bullet gets stuck in the speed loader, I had to put my ramrod through it and into my barrel. Then finally pack it down and reload the primer. Again rested firm I shot for the second time and I can only describe it as what looked to be a bottle rocket coming out of my barrel with a big 50 yard arched smoke trail that started to drift away in the wind like a jet fuel trail. He looked over at me then turned back to the doe. I thought I was done and felt my heart drop into my lower intestine.
I sat there for 5 minutes scoping him, thinking my barrel was plugged or something because I couldn't see light through my breech and frankly I was just not thinking clearly. I could see all the junk and splits and mass and just about threw up. Finally after 5 minutes, I decided to clear my barrel with a primer (wasn't actually necessary) and then if he is still there shoot at him again. So I reloaded a primer fired it, he looked over and then started to move up the hill a few yards. I immediately started the process of reloading again for what seemed to take 10 minutes (actually 30 seconds) damn bullet got stuck again in the speed loader. I finally loaded the primer with my slightly shaking hands and rested and took aim.
Now he was standing up hill quartering away at about 150 yards. I squeezed off my last shot and that was it for him.
So you gotta be thinking "this lucky sob," but in my defense, I didn't miss him 6 times like some rumors are already going around, I only actually missed him once and I stand firm that I hit a hidden sapling branch that was
not detectable to the naked eye.
By the way the best explanation for the bottle rocket I can think of is that when I was in a hurry to reload I may not have fully seated the black powder pellets and bullet completely down against the breech plug which is totally possible in this situation. If there is anyone who could verify this, I am really curious. Anyways, that's my story.
Darin P. Fager
Vice President of Operations