“Why don’t you write more about muzzleloading?
That was the opening line of an email I recently received. And ironically, it was something I had been thinking about since I no longer bowhunt due to a bad shoulder.
I haven’t hunted with a muzzleloader rifle in several years, but after receipt of the email, I got things going again in that direction.
Those of you who have read my columns know that ANY excuse I have to add a new gun to my collection will be attended to quickly. Right now, there’s no muzzleloader in my gun cabinet, but shortly, there will be.
My last muzzleloader was a 50-caliber CVA, which I gave to a young hunter in Pennsylvania four years ago, shortly after I downed a nice four-pointer. He actually did not have a muzzleloader so I let him use mine. He shot a nice five-pointer, so I told him because his deer was bigger than mine, he could keep it.
Last Thursday, I called Connecticut Valley Arms in Georgia and spoke with Thomas MacAulay, director of media, about getting started again. My question to him was simple: “What would you recommend to get me started, and rather quickly since the season actually begins in just a few days?”
The company was founded in 1971, and since then, it’s been developing and offering innovative break-open muzzleloading rifles, and at a reasonable price. Their rifles are now designed and assembled in Bergara, Spain, which has been noted for quality gun making for hundreds of years.
I told Thomas what I want from my muzzleloader is quality and accuracy, and it had to be easy to clean. I remember cleaning a muzzleloader after shooting, and it was something I dreaded after a hard day of hunting. But he assured me those days were gone.
After a review of their three popular models, Accura, OptimaV2 and Wolf, I decided on the Optima V2, 50-caliber. I have to admit that its looks entered into my selection. That 416 stainless-steel fluted 26-inch barrel looked very good resting in the Realtree Xtra Green camouflaged stock.
In terms of the more functional features, there’s a neutral center-of-gravity trigger and quick-release breech plug that can be easily removed with your fingers. I was never a fan of using those breech plug tools when it came to cleaning a muzzleloader.
What can you do to make a muzzleloader ramrod better? I remember the additional ramrod tool to help you seat the bullet in the muzzleloader. Doing it without the tool with your hand is very uncomfortable, but CVA’s new PalmSaver ramrod makes it not only more comfortable but faster with the more rounded ramrod head. Additional comforts built into the Optima V2 include a reversible hammer spur and CrushZone recoil pad.
Their final addition is the Z2 Alloy DuraSight Dead-On one-piece-scope-mount rings system. Its design provides easy and accurate scope mounting, and insures better ring alignment to grip the scope tighter, but with less stress on the scope. And this all adds up to accuracy.
Optics are also a critical part of a hunter’s success, especially when the muzzleloader rifle only gives a hunter one shot. But that’s the challenging part of muzzleloader hunting. Making that one shot count can be very satisfying, rather than leaving the woods disappointed.
The scope I’ll be using is one I am very familiar with, the matte-finished Konus Pro 3-9x40mm with a 30-30 reticle. This scope is completely waterproof and fogproof, and the reticle is heavy caliber recoil-proof. It also comes with flip-open lens covers.
My cartridge choice is the IMR White Hot 50-caliber, 50-grain pellets. There are a number of reasons I chose this one. Just prior to my hanging up my muzzleloader, I tried these new white powder loads, and was very impressed with their performance. The ballistics published by IMR for these pellets is quite impressive, with up to 2,300 feet per second velocity and 2,600 foot-pounds. They shoot flat, are dependable in nasty, cold weather and the pellet design requires no measuring, which allows it to slide smoothly into the barrel.
Another feature I noticed immediately when I shot these loads in the past was there was no need to clean between shots. And when it’s time to clean, a quick turn on the breach gives you access to the inside of the barrel and all you need is a wet-patch to remove the residue.
My plans are to be in the deer woods in Washington County sitting on watch
before sunup with my new CVA OptimaV2 across my legs awaiting a 10-pointer. But should a healthy doe come in range (you can shoot a deer of either sex during the early muzzleloading season), she might be riding in the back of my truck to Saratoga Springs.
Actually, I’m excited about renewing muzzleloader hunting again. It’s truly a great time to be in the woods. and should be a fun-filled challenge.
The state bowhunting season has been open since Sept. 27, and I haven’t received one Buck Tale. I know there are a large number of hunters sitting in tree stands both morning and night, and I’m sure some already have venison in the freezer.
If you want to share your successful deer or bear hunting experiences this year with other hunters, send me your tale, buck or doe. Please include your city of residence, area you were hunting in, whether with bow or gun (when season opens) and any other detail that will add to the story. Every successful deer hunter has a story to tell, and there is a big audience that would like to hear yours. Send it to [email protected]
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