The vast majority of hunters in the United States these days likely use modern firearms or archery equipment—especially with the flood of new people who have started hunting for the first time in 2020 and 2021. There’s not a darn thing wrong with going afield carrying a bow or a centerfire rifle, but the focus on those methods of take by most hunters presents an opportunity for those who want to stand out from the crowd: hunting with a muzzleloader.
Images of hunters like Daniel Boone or Davy Crockett likely spring to mind when most people think about hunting with a muzzleloader. Plenty of hunters still go afield with a traditional flintlock or percussion cap rifles but, as you’ll learn here shortly, things have changed quite a bit in that field in recent decades.
Let’s discuss a few of the advantages of hunting with a muzzleloader and why you should consider going afield with one.
Are Muzzleloaders Good to Hunt With?
Muzzleloaders can be extremely effective in the right hands.
Hunters in the 18th and 19th Centuries used muzzleloaders to successfully take virtually every species of big game of North America. So, it’s absolutely possible to cleanly and quickly take all manner of game with a patched round ball fired from a flintlock muzzleloader. Lots of hunters still do exactly that each year in North America.
However, we have access to much more advanced inline muzzleloaders these days than hunters did even 20-30 years ago. Those newer muzzleloaders offer dramatically improved performance compared to older inline muzzleloaders and more traditional flintlock and percussion cap muzzleloaders due to advances in powder, bullet, and rifle manufacturing technology.
Specifically, modern inline muzzleloaders offer more reliable ignition, excellent accuracy, more impressive external ballistics, a longer effective range, and outstanding terminal performance to hunters.
It’s important to note that longer range is a relative term though. A modern inline muzzleloader with a scope, a good black powder substitute, and a well-designed conical bullet still can’t touch the effective range of a centerfire rifle chambered in a high velocity cartridge.
Even so, a typical hunter using modern inline muzzleloader set-up will probably be able to consistently hit a target at longer range than that same hunter using a flintlock musket with iron sights, a patched round ball, and true black powder.
There are exceptions, but a typical inline muzzleloader probably has a maximum effective range of around 150, maybe 200 yards for typical hunting applications. However, that’s plenty of range for the majority of all hunters in the United States though, especially for hunters east of the Mississippi River.
Benefits Of Hunting With A Muzzleloader — Ron Spomer Outdoors is written by John McAdams for www.ronspomeroutdoors.com