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Tips for Hunting with a Traditional Flintlock Muzzleloader

Black Powder

Contrary to what it appears in modern magazine and television shows, you can actually harvest game with a traditional flintlock muzzleloader. Modern inline muzzleloaders using sabot bullets, shotgun primers and pellet propellants are all the range. But doing it the traditional way with flint and steel, patched round balls, and black powder will harvest game just as it did 200 years ago. The Kentucky or Pennsylvania long rifle kills game as well as any other gun as long as you use care.

I’m writing this under the assumption that you already know the basics of loading and firing a flintlock muzzleloader and am only providing you with some tips to make you journey into the woods more productive and firing your muzzleloader under less than desirable conditions. First remember the old saying ‘keep your powder dry. This is the primary problem of using a flintlock. With the powder resting under a poorly sealed frizzen and a continuously exposed flash (or touch) hole there are many ways the moisture can ruin a good day hunting.

Take a candle and run a cigarette lighter (away from the black powder obviously) over the end of a candle to soften the wax, do not light the candle. Take the softened end of the candle and smear the wax onto the bottom of the frizzen. Leave the frizzen open. The wax left on the frizzen will make a relatively water proof seal when closed after loading. Place a small round wooden toothpick into the flash hole before loading which will keep powder from clogging the flash hole. Be careful not to touch the wax with the toothpick. Load your muzzleloader in a dry location. Once you are ready to prime the pan, pull the toothpick straight out so not to break it off and carefully place a small charge into the pan making sure not to spill any on the surrounding area. Now close the frizzen and press it down firmly to seal the wax.

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Once you are in the woods you need to try to make certain that rain and snow do not fall directly onto the lock. For most hunting I have found the keeping the lock of the gun under an armpit is the simplest method. In extreme cases you can use rubber bands to secure plastic wrap around the lock. When ready to fire just tear the plastic wrap off.

Once I was flintlock hunting when a drenching rain fell for an entire afternoon. Far from cover I ducked under a pine tree and sat soaking up the rain until I was too cold to take it any longer. I then walked to the hunting cabin, set my gun down outside and went inside to get warmed up. When I was warm and dry I went outside to unload my gun supposing it would take some work. I aimed at rock on a nearby bank and pulled the trigger and it thundered as if it were freshly loaded on a warm sunny day.

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