Muzzleloader deer season starts Dec. 1

    Deer hunting with a rifle just came to a close, but the next opportunity to hunt deer begins Dec. 1, and continues until the end of the month.
    It’s muzzleloader season for hunters who want to test their skill in a method closer resembling our forefathers.
    A muzzleloader is any firearm a shooter loads by pushing a projectile and the powder charge through the muzzle.
    This loading method is the key difference between muzzleloaders and most modern firearms, which are loaded from the rear.
    Three area hunters, Mark Pankonin, Kelsey Weiss and Brent Kruger, have hunted deer with a muzzleloader and all agreed on one thing­—the appeal of hunting with a muzzleloader rather than a rifle is “much more challenging.”
    “It takes more skill as a hunter,” said Pankonin.
    Muzzleloaders don’t shoot as far. The furthest range is about 150-200 yards for the more modern inline muzzleloader compared to the traditional flintlock type where the range is 50-100 yards.
    “You better make your first shot count because it takes time to reload,” said Pankonin.
    He has been hunting with a muzzleloader for around 15 years, although he hasn’t for the last two or three years, he said.
    He explained that the old traditional style gun was smooth bore, whereas the upgraded rifled bore is much more accurate.
    “There’s more maintenance to keep it clean, but the new gun powder is not as dirty as the old type,” Pankonin said. “But you still get that puff of blue/gray smoke when you fire.”
    Weiss has hunted with the more modern inline style of muzzleloader, but has been around people using the old traditional style, he said.
    “It’s really different. It takes you back to the way hunters used to hunt, old school,” he said.
    Flintlocks or smoothbores played a major roll in the settlement of North America and were the most common firearm available. They were used to win the American Revolution, according to historical sources.

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