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Muzzleloader Hunting

I would like to start off by talking about preparation. It's time to break the gun out of the closet, head to the nearest range, and check it out. One of the most important aspects to accurately shooting a muzzleloader, is your comfort with the gun. If you're not very familiar with your gun, you'll have a much more difficult time shooting accurately. What I mean by familiar, is the way you hold it, the angle you might hold your head while shooting, range capabilities, etc. Shooting 50 to 100 rounds prior to the season will help you shoot more consistantly.
Also, cleaning your gun between each shot can further improve consistency of a your muzzleloader. It only takes a couple shots to really fill the barrel with some nasty residue, so clean often. I personally clean my gun between each shot. While in the field, it will be more difficult, but plan on packing cleaning supplies with you. Now that you're shooting some good groups, you're ready for the hunt.

Many western states still open the Muzzleloader hunt in late October or early November. Hunting late can be very productive. If you're lucky enough to catch the bucks just as their beginning the rut, you can increase your chances immensely. Occasionally, when those big bucks smell a doe in heat, they'll make a mistake. You may be lucky enough to catch one following some does into the open or chasing one around 'til mid-morning.

Late-season hunting also gives you the opportunity to catch those bucks during the migration. Often times, as the deer migrate to lower ground, they'll spend more time "out and about" during daylight hours. This increases your chances of seeing them. Finding migration trails can make a good hunt into a great hunt, very quickly. In some areas, deer will use just a small area to travel to lower ground. It may be a 1/4 to a full mile wide. You'll know it when you find a good one, you'll be seeing 20 to 30 head of deer each morning and evening. In many cases, as the deer migrate, they do very little feeding. You'll see them and know that they're on the move. My father and I hunted a trail a few years ago and it was not uncommon to see 50 to 70 head of deer each day. They would still be moving down the ridge until 9 to 10 o'clock in the morning. It was incredible!