My first muzzleloader hunt was a mule deer hunt. I was hunting an encampment in Wyoming right on the Colorado border just west of Laramie. I was hunting on the Vee Bar Ranch on a private hunt with Clint O’Day, who is the co-host of “Campfire Stories.” Since Clint’s father works on the ranch, we were able to spend 3 or 4 days hunting on this private ranch that wasn’t commercially hunted. The hunt was in October, and the air temperature was about 60 degrees. We had a beautiful day for hunting, and I was really excited to be on the hunt. We spent most of the first day checking-out some spots where Clint had been hunting in the past and looking for good mule deer.
The terrain was fairly rocky but very open, so we had an excellent opportunity to really scout efficiently. We could see from 500 yards to a mile away from where we were glassing. We spotted quite a bit of game, including antelope, mule deer and elk. Although we saw four or five bucks, they were all small and not the ones we wanted to take. As we were moving to a vantage point to glass for deer, we jumped a herd of small bucks, and I was glad I didn’t take one of those smaller bucks. When we got on top of the rocks where we could see a great distance, we spotted a buck that Clint determined was one of the better bucks on the ranch and would be a nice buck for us to go after. The buck was bedded-down, so we watched him for a while.
We began to look at the possibilities of making a stalk on this buck about 600- to 800-yards away from us. I was hunting with a CVA Apex .50 cal muzzleloader, with 150 grains of White Hot pellets, and a 300-grain Aerolite bullet. I had the gun set-up to shoot about an inch high at 100 yards and had a Nikon riflescope. The gun belonged to Clint, and I was shooting his gun was because he was driving to the hunt, and I was flying to the hunt. Then I didn’t have to carry the gun on the plane and add it to my luggage.
After making a stalk, I came-up over a little ridge, and the buck was only 150-yards from us, looking straight at us. The buck had a tall rack and looked like a shooter buck to me. Clint checked him out and agreed that this one was definitely a shooter. But I couldn’t get to a place where I could make a good, solid shot on the buck. So, we started to move-up and gain a little elevation before I could take the shot. However, the buck spotted us, and although he didn’t spook terribly bad, he did decide that putting distance between us and him was the right thing to do. He quickly got out of sight.
By then dark almost had arrived, so we headed back to the ranch. Although we’d seen a lot of animals that day, I was really pumped-up to take a nice mule deer. So, the next morning, we returned to the same spot where we’d hunted the day before in hopes of seeing that big buck again. The next morning a cold front moved-in, and the terrain looked a little different. On our way to the vantage point where we were planning to use the glass, snow started falling and lasted about 3 or 4 hours. Within a couple of hours, we had 3 or 4 inches of snow on the ground. The temperature we’d had the last day was 60 degrees and sunny, and in less than 24 hours, we had cold weather and snow. The snow made seeing the deer easier, but it also made spotting us easier for the deer.
As we moved-back to the place we’d left before, we saw a nice buck. We weren’t sure if it was the same one from the day before, but it was a shooter. I could see that the buck had a very-wide antler spread, and he was a great-looking buck. He was only a few hundred yards away and was bedded-down on the side of a hill. We had to be really careful as we moved into position to take the shot. The buck started to look nervous, so we didn’t try to push him any further. Finally when the buck stood-up to get a better look at us, I was able to take the shot. But the falling snow kept me from getting an accurate range. Once we found the mule deer, we ranged the distance at 207 yards. Now for me that was an extremely-long shot, because once again, this was my first blackpowder hunt. Since I live in Tennessee, a long shot where I hunt is about 125 yards.
The buck had been quartering to us, and the Aerolite bullet went into the base of the buck’s neck and came out behind his back left rib. I was really impressed about being able to hear the bullet actually hit the deer. When I heard that whop, I knew I’d made a good shot on the buck. The buck ran about 20 yards after taking the bullet, and then he wobbled, sat-down and tipped over backwards. I was ecstatic about what a fun hunt I’d had and what a great deer I was able to take with my CVA Apex muzzleloader. More importantly, I learned that muzzleloader hunting isn’t nearly as difficult as everyone tries to make it out to be. For me, hunting with a muzzleloader was fun, exciting and unbelievably easy. I was able to make a good shot at a distance that I rarely, if ever, had shot.
If you’re like me and have never tried muzzleloader hunting or are shooting an older muzzleloaders, you may want to consider shooting one of the new CVA muzzleloaders like the Accura MR or Apex and finding out just how much fun black powder hunting is, and how accurate the rifles are – even at long distances.
CVA National Sales Manager