Hunting Deer With a Round Ball Muzzleloader

by Zach Lazzari

The round ball muzzleloader is a traditional rifle that has become popular for deer hunting. Muzzleloader hunting is challenging because the range is much shorter than modern rifles. The gun requires stalking the deer at close range and making an accurate shot with or without a scope for guidance.

Muzzleloader Tactics

The muzzleloader is most effective at less than 100 yards. Hunting deer with the weapon is accomplished using a variety of close-range techniques. Deer often travel on dedicated trails and hunters will place blinds or tree stands along the trails and wait for the animal to walk within range. Hunting in open country with more mobile deer requires glassing the landscape with binoculars and spotting scopes. The hunter must make a quiet approach from downwind once the animal is located. After stalking the deer and entering the range of the muzzleloader, the hunter will take the shot.

Scopes Are Optional

Scopes are available for muzzleloaders, but many hunters skip using one. Shooting with a scope increases overall accuracy, but it also reduces the value of a traditional hunt. Shooting accurately without a scope requires regular practice. Practice helps the hunter understand and compensate for the drop rate and wind effect on the round ball. The scope makes the adjustments with precision and offers a clear view of the target, but shooting without a scope forces you to close as much distance as possible and focus on making a perfect shot.

Muzzleloader Maintenance

Deer hunting is typically a fall and winter event with a muzzleloader. The season is prone to moisture and the hunter must be especially careful to keep the equipment dry. Exposure to moisture will ruin the primer, prevent the powder from igniting and ultimately prevent the gun from firing. A very small amount of moisture will cause a misfire and ruin your opportunity at killing an animal. Keep your powder and primers in a dry bag and point the barrel down to prevent moisture accumulation. Wipe the barrel with a dry cloth before loading the powder and pulling the trigger.

A Longer Muzzleloader Season

Hunting with a muzzleloader is more difficult than a rifle, but many hunters are drawn to the opportunity. The challenge is a major draw for seasoned deer hunters and the personal value of a close-range experience is a valued aspect of the hunt. But the muzzleloader season is the primary reason many hunters choose the option. It lasts much longer than the rifle season in many states. The long season offers more time in the field and more opportunities to stalk and make attempts at deer. The long hunt is an opportunity to gain valuable field experience without the hurried experience associated with rifle hunting.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images