Sadly, the Florida Wildlife Commission has declared that our archery season in Zone C is ending. I’ve heard some great stories from around the county and seen some awesome pictures of success in the field. I even put a pair of fat does in the freezer with my arrows, flung from my recurved bow and tipped with broadheads I designed myself! My most recent freezer-filler was taken with the use of a gravity feeder filled with ‘YellaAkerns’,’ and I slipped into a patch of thick cover nearby where I’d have the wind advantage and caught her unaware at twelve steps.
Now, we’re in the midst of a short period without archery in preparation for the Black Powder Riffle or Muzzleloading season beginning this Saturday, October 21, 2023 and running through November 3, 2023
As much as I love bowhunting, this new season is a reason to grin, because hunting with those primitive black powder weapons can be a lot of fun! I began hunting and shooting black powder rifles as a kid. My grandfather took up an interest in the old ways, and his passion for the old sidelock black powder guns spread to my dad and me.
I’ll be toting an ancient Kentucky Long Rifle with a side-lock percussion ignition. It’s not a fancy offering on the shelves these days, but a black powder muzzleloader is still a black powder muzzleloader. You see, whether it be an expensive high-end inline or an old-school sidelock, the theory behind the muzzleloader has not changed since the sixteenth century; you take a measured powder charge, follow this with a projectile, ram it all home with a ramrod, and make a fire in the action. And when that action fires from a trigger pull, it will blow a thick cloud of sulfurous smoke, which is how they came to be nicknamed “smoke poles.”
Certainly, there is a healthy offering of ultra-modern sporting muzzleloaders on the market today, but the older black powder designs still perform the same job, putting lead on target at a fraction of the cost. The best news for the consumer is that, as with most anything old and not rare, these guns can usually be bought at bargain prices.
Smoke pole season also coincides with the rut here in our county, and the bucks are actively seeking does. I’m finding lots of scrapes and big-buck action on the trail cameras. By the time the modern gun season opens in two weeks, they will all have reproduced, so if you simply need a reason to pick up a smoke pole, this is a good one. If you want to take advantage of the first big rut to put a big buck in your sights, get yourself a smoke pole and sight it in!
As always, if you have any questions or comments on this week’s column, feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]. God Bless, and good hunting!