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BuckTracker: Muzzleloader Luck

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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
www.fager-mcgee.com

Comments (1)

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from Darin Fager wrote 6 years 14 weeks ago

Very interesting comments, but I am still not sure what happened. I can say without a doubt that I did load the bullet on the bottle rocket shot. It was stuck in my speed loader and it didn't go down the barrel real easy either. As far as the powder being moist, I loaded the speed loaders on opening day eve, which was just 36 hours prior to the shot and I did make two other shots that were fine and one shot the next season that fired fine. Still not quite sure what happened but I have sent the question to TC and I am waiting for a reply. Any other added comments would be appreciated. Some of the comments about me being lucky to be here are exactly what I was worried about for that 5 minutes I watched this monster stand there. As you can see it was too much for me to stand and that's why I decided to clear my barrel with the primer and try another shot.Just for the record this buck was taken on state property that anyone could have drawn in on. No fences or biologic.

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from VA Woodsman wrote 6 years 15 weeks ago

your powder charge was wet or had absorbed too much moisture in storage (how long were they in the speedloaders?) - resulting in a slow fizzle of powder in one entire or a portion of the pellets. Thus the bottle rocket effect. Take better care of your stuff.If the sabot wasn't seated correctly - you'd be in the happy huntingrounds elsewhere - particularly if you were using 150 gr.

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from OhioHunter wrote 6 years 15 weeks ago

What a great story and nice buck! I really enjoyed hearing I'm not the only one why has been challenged by hidden sapling branches. They are certainly mysterious ;-)Key point for any new black-powder hunters: Just because you only get one shot, doesn't mean you only get one shot! I filled a late season doe tag a few years ago with a "double-barrel" muzzleloader.Good Hunting!

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from Bubba wrote 6 years 16 weeks ago

uhum....Please repeat the question! I'm not sure what you are asking!Bubba

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from John wrote 6 years 16 weeks ago

"I dont understand why it took so many shots did the bullets just not have enough velocity to penetrate?"Yes. The deer actually was so summer-fattened on BioLogic, he was bulletproof. Forensic testing revealed the killing shot was actually the third in the exact same spot. 1/2" at a time and Darin finally made it through the ribcage.

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from uhummmm wrote 6 years 16 weeks ago

I dont understand why it took so many shots did the bullets just not have enough velocity to penetrate?

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from Bubba wrote 6 years 16 weeks ago

If the pellets and bullet were not seated fully against the breech, you may not be here right now. Since you apparently are still alive and the gun will still shoot, I can only suppose there was another problem.Maybe you just think you loaded a projectile, and the smoking arch was a burning pellet.A projectile not seated against the breech and powder charge becomes an obstruction and will cause serious pressure problems up to and including the barrel exploding!You would not be the first person to forget the projectile in the heat of the moment! And you won't be the last!Congrats on a superb buck!! Regardless of the number of shots!Bubba

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from Darin Fager wrote 6 years 14 weeks ago

Very interesting comments, but I am still not sure what happened. I can say without a doubt that I did load the bullet on the bottle rocket shot. It was stuck in my speed loader and it didn't go down the barrel real easy either. As far as the powder being moist, I loaded the speed loaders on opening day eve, which was just 36 hours prior to the shot and I did make two other shots that were fine and one shot the next season that fired fine. Still not quite sure what happened but I have sent the question to TC and I am waiting for a reply. Any other added comments would be appreciated. Some of the comments about me being lucky to be here are exactly what I was worried about for that 5 minutes I watched this monster stand there. As you can see it was too much for me to stand and that's why I decided to clear my barrel with the primer and try another shot.Just for the record this buck was taken on state property that anyone could have drawn in on. No fences or biologic.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from VA Woodsman wrote 6 years 15 weeks ago

your powder charge was wet or had absorbed too much moisture in storage (how long were they in the speedloaders?) - resulting in a slow fizzle of powder in one entire or a portion of the pellets. Thus the bottle rocket effect. Take better care of your stuff.If the sabot wasn't seated correctly - you'd be in the happy huntingrounds elsewhere - particularly if you were using 150 gr.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from OhioHunter wrote 6 years 15 weeks ago

What a great story and nice buck! I really enjoyed hearing I'm not the only one why has been challenged by hidden sapling branches. They are certainly mysterious ;-)Key point for any new black-powder hunters: Just because you only get one shot, doesn't mean you only get one shot! I filled a late season doe tag a few years ago with a "double-barrel" muzzleloader.Good Hunting!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bubba wrote 6 years 16 weeks ago

uhum....Please repeat the question! I'm not sure what you are asking!Bubba

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from John wrote 6 years 16 weeks ago

"I dont understand why it took so many shots did the bullets just not have enough velocity to penetrate?"Yes. The deer actually was so summer-fattened on BioLogic, he was bulletproof. Forensic testing revealed the killing shot was actually the third in the exact same spot. 1/2" at a time and Darin finally made it through the ribcage.

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from uhummmm wrote 6 years 16 weeks ago

I dont understand why it took so many shots did the bullets just not have enough velocity to penetrate?

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from Bubba wrote 6 years 16 weeks ago

If the pellets and bullet were not seated fully against the breech, you may not be here right now. Since you apparently are still alive and the gun will still shoot, I can only suppose there was another problem.Maybe you just think you loaded a projectile, and the smoking arch was a burning pellet.A projectile not seated against the breech and powder charge becomes an obstruction and will cause serious pressure problems up to and including the barrel exploding!You would not be the first person to forget the projectile in the heat of the moment! And you won't be the last!Congrats on a superb buck!! Regardless of the number of shots!Bubba

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