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Deer hunting of old flintlocks, caplocks and in-lines

By Staff
Nov. 30, 2001
Some drivers are enamored by vintage cars. A scattering of furniture lovers are drawn to antiques. And one group of hunters and shooters enjoy doing it like Boone, Crockett and Bridger did. The word here is nostalgia.
Sunday, scores of hunters will take to the Mississippi woodlands with black powder firearms for a deer season that lasts through December 15 and occurs again January 17 – 31, 2002.
The long guns of the early pioneers were often hand crafted by the local gunsmith as opposed to mass production of firearms that would follow and mark the beginning of a huge industry that would revolutionize shooting.
Flintlocks were popular from the 1600's to about 1850 when caplock rifles took the spotlight. Then came metallic cartridges with powder, primer and bullet put all together into one package.
Fans of Tradition
Today, black powder fans who want to more realistically replicate the experience of firearms shooting and hunting in this country's early history shoot rifles, and in lesser numbers shotguns, that are reproductions of flintlocks and the early caplocks.
It is true with perhaps most hunters that how one does it is more important than getting the game animal. It has always intrigued me that many acquaintances will ask. "Did you get anything?," or more inanely, "Did you catch anything?" upon my return from a hunting experience. I answer courteously, for they are expressing interest in me and my life's pursuits. But I always chuckle internally at the question, invariably supposing that they must picture me charging around in the woods trying to grab a squirrel or rabbit or deer with my bare hands.
The more appropriate question is "Did you have a good time?" Some black powder hunters achieve much of their good times by carrying the ancestral practices to the maximum. In addition to arming themselves with flintlock rifles, and accompanying powder horns, bed ticking patches and round lead balls for projectiles, these traditionalists wear buckskin clothes and boots and coonskin caps. They rightly assert that they are the true preservers of original black powder shooting.
Modern Equipment
Others appreciate the recent developments in primitive weapons and use modern day muzzle loading guns with their accompanying conveniences. For example magnifying telescopic sights are now legal to use in Mississippi on black powder rifles during the primitive weapon seasons for deer. In-line ignition systems make the newer rifles easier to clean.
Muzzle loading hunters can choose their rifles and equipment from a wide range of possibilities. But practically all will seek their venison with a gun that will fire only once before requiring a substantial amount of reloading time and effort.
For a time, today's black powder hunter becomes an early settler or adventurer who sallies forth on the hunt with a growling stomach, pursed lips and senses keen to the tangibility of survival. And in a test of marksmanship, patience and maybe woodcraft, he or she executes the ritual of long ago – the harvest that must be made with just one try, one strike, one swing of the bat, one shot.