Struggles of late deer season well worth effort

Most students look forward to winter break because of opening presents on Christmas morning, and hanging out with friends and family. For others like myself, winter break means late muzzleloader deer season.

Late muzzleloader is a very unique form of hunting.

First off, you’re using a rifle design over 150 years old. Secondly, it is not like shotgun deer hunting where you have a set group of pushers and standers. Instead, you set your stool down somewhere in the timber or near a cornfield and wait.

Muzzleloader season can be a very cool experience, but also can be quite difficult for the average hunter.

Obviously, during late muzzleloader season there is usually a good amount of snow on the ground, which makes walking back to your spot difficult at times. There have been some years that we had almost 3-4 feet of snow, and my dad and I hiked back to spots clear up on massive ridges. It gets even more challenging if you shoot a deer too.

Along with that snow is bitter, freezing cold. In this late season, prepare to absolutely freeze out there. It’ll be one of the coldest experiences of your life at times, but it’s worth it when you tag a nice deer.

Another drawback of muzzleloader hunting is that you have for the most part, one shot. Granted there have been times where we’ve been able to get off more than one shot at a deer, but it is safe to assume you’ll only have that one shot.

Loading a second shot can be even more tricky while under pressure, so speedloaders are a lifesaver. Speedloaders are a tube-like device that has the set amount of black powder, the patch and the ball ready to roll. Loading a muzzleloader can be very dangerous if done wrong, so keep that in mind.

The pros vastly outweigh the cons when it comes to late muzzleloader, however. Although the snow can be a con, it can also be an awesome pro. One of the coolest things you’ll ever see is Iowa timber and cornfields in the snow.

The best deer hunts I’ve had are when it’s snowing. It’s so quiet out there that you can hear the snow falling. There’s nothing quite like being out in the woods when it’s snowing. It makes for awesome pictures and an awesome hunt.

Another reward from late muzzleloader is the preservation of a tradition. When I’m carrying my Thompson Center “New Englander,” I think about the men who carried these types of rifles on the same land almost 200 years before me. By using a muzzleloader, you are preserving a way of putting food on the table that has been around as long as this country.

Even above the feeling of tradition and the beautiful scenery, the reward of actually shooting a deer with that rifle is much greater. All the work you put in at the range, freezing your hands and feet off, and the trudging through the deep snow paid off. It is hard to describe exactly what it feels like when you finally take that shot and it all pays off, but it’s great. You accomplished something that not many hunters today have.

Late muzzleloader can be a very rewarding experience. At times it’s difficult, but in the end it’s worth it.

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