I only write this to mark the passing of KY’s Early Muzzleloader Season. It’s over; that is about all you need to know. All in all, it was not as lousy as it could have been. It was not the hottest, although we had temperatures in the mid-80’s. It was windy, but it was not as bad as some years. We heard a few shots. Everyone got out safe. It was pretty.
If you’re going to bitch about it Shaman, why even go out?
That’s a good question. I can tell you there are good reasons, especially now.
For starters, Early Muzzleloader Season has become a practice run for the real thing. It comes exactly a month before Rifle Season starts. If we use it as a dress rehearsal, all the big issues are fairly well addressed before The Opener. Besides my Hawken, I try to have all my deer rifles properly sighted-in. The skirts are on the treestands. Most of the clothes are prepped and ready. This year was perfect in that regard because the weather was so warm I did not touch The Big Orange Clown Suit, except it bring it out briefly for a final examination.
Getting out this past weekend was also a good time to get in touch with all that nostalgia for The Good Old Days. Back when I was still bowhunting, October weekends not November’s, were the high holidays. My biggest bow kills all came on this weekend that usually marks the False Rut. It is nice to be in the stand. It’s now going on 10 seasons since I pulled a bow. I really don’t miss it as a whole. Don’t get me started on bow hunting again.
Then there’s the Hawken itself. This is all supposed to be a celebration of Primitive Weapons. Deep down inside, my Thompson Center .54 Hawken is my favorite firearm. There is just something about it, the way it feels in my hand, the sound of the lock, the smell. THIS is a deer rifle. The problem is that I’ve only taken two deer with it, and had it misfire on three more. On the other hand, I can’t count the number of times I have counted coup on a deer. The Hawken has the option of leaving the hammer in the half-cock position and working the triggers normally. As a result, I can go through the whole process of shooting a deer without actually busting a cap. I find this immensely satisfying. That “Click” of the hair trigger with the sights on a nice fat doe is nearly as good as it gets.
If I could have managed one or two of those over the weekend, I’d probably be feeling better. However, I had only two opportunities and they both came to naught. Saturday was a complete shutout. All I heard were two snorts, both from deer too far away for them to be concerned with me. Sunday’s first opportunity was keenly sublime. I had just gotten settled in my stand at Campground. I was bathed in the light of the full moon, a half-hour before the beginning of legal hunting. I had not had a chance to load the rifle, and it was just a good time to relax and soak up the vibe and remember all the early mornings over all the years, bathed in moonlight. In the midst of all this reverie, a doe came out into the field to feed. It was probably the perfect broadside shot, 15 yards, standing just in the opening in the fence. However, she was in the shade, and I could not see head versus tail let alone where to put the shot. By the time legal hunting came, she had wandered off.
The second opportunity came just as I was contemplating leaving at 10. It was getting warm. I was beginning to sweat. It was time to get back and start shutting up Camp. With that thought, a doe came around the tree on the right side of that same opening in the fence and stared straight at me with not a moment’s hint of having fooled her. Three of her compatriots gamboled about the field, but our eyes remained locked on each other. This went on for only a couple of minutes before she blew the alarm and trotted off. I had been bested by a second-year doe.
When I got in, I found SuperCore’s new CVA muzzleloader had malfunctioned on a nice buck coming out of Skunk Hollow. All the rattling around on the ATV had caused the scope mount to come loose. The bullet had gone somewhere in the general direction of the buck, but it seemed to have done no harm."KY Muzzleloader Season Come and Gone",