Friday, July 27, 2012
Well...here it is the end of July...Again! I guess we all need to take a break from some things...and this is when I take a break from shooting saboted bullets...until it cools off again.
However, if you are trying to work up a load for an early hunt in the North Country (by that I mean Alaska or northern Canada) you may not have any choice, and have to shoot. This time of the year, in some parts of the country, there's not much escaping the heat and humidity...which will cause a muzzleloader barrel to heat up quickly...and stay hot. Once it does, you're just wasting powder and bullets to keep on loading and shooting. Accuracy goes right out the door.
Even when I have to shoot this time of year here in Montana, I do it at the crack of daylight. In fact, I leave home in the dark and get to the range before shooting light. I know I'll have about an hour, often two, to shoot - and get everythng set up and the rifle or rifles ready. Fortunately here, at around 4,000 feet elevation, morning temperatures are usually around 55 degrees at first light...with humidity around 15- to 25-percent. And I can give rifles a 6 to 8 minute cool down between shots...and still maintain top accuracy.
Before moving to Montana, I lived in Missouri. During the dog days of early August, morning temperatures could still be around 75 to 80 degrees...with the humidity right at 100-percent. Shooting for any degree of accuracy generally meant allowing the rifle to cool 10 to 15 minutes before reloading and shooting again. On a good morning, shooting for nearly two hours, I would get in no more than 10 or so shots.
Letting that rifle sit in the shade to cool is extremely important when temperatures reach into the 80's and 90's. If you have two rifles, take 'em both and make the most of the morning. Load and shoot one, then set it aside to cool...then load and shoot the other, then set it aside to cool. This way, you can at least get off a shot about every 6 or 7 minutes...instead of sitting there twidling your thumbs. - Toby Bridges
Friday, July 13, 2012
On Thanksgiving morning last fall, I was hunting a long and narrow hayfield along the Musselshell River in the breaks country of central Montana. From a knoll that rose a good 40 feet above where the field narrowed to just over 200 yards, I watched as a doe ran past a huge cottonwood, which I had lasered at 227 yards. A few minutes later, a 5x5 buck followed the same exact route, passing within just a few yards of that tree. Taking a rest on a collapsible tripod shooting rest, I placed the 225-yard cross-bar of the multi-reticle muzzleloader hunting scope on the shoulder of the buck...and eased back on the trigger. The modern No. 209 primer ignition fast-twist .50 caliber in-line rifle belched - and a 110-grain charge of Blackhorn 209 powder pushed a saboted 300-grain polymer-tipped Scorpion PT Gold spire point out of the muzzle at 1,970 f.p.s., with 2,583 f.p.e.. At about 225 yards, that bullet drove home with right at 1,300 foot-pounds of knockdown power...and that buck went down on the spot.
So, where can muzzleloader hunting performance go from here? This new NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING report takes a look at what likely lies ahead...