Hunting with a Muzzleloading Shotgun

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Published on: Oct. 2, 2001

Last revision: Nov. 9, 2010

To many hunters, muzzleloading means heavy-caliber rifles and more opportunities to tag deer. Deer hunting isn't the only thing you can do with a muzzleloader, however. A muzzleloading shotgun can give your autumn outings for any game a delicious twist.

Flip through a catalog that offers hunting equipment, and the section featuring muzzleloading firearms will likely include several shotguns. Some will sport in-line ignition systems and choke tubes. Others will be traditional double-barrels with side hammers and cylinder bores.

If you are interested in the challenge associated with the slower loading time of a muzzleloading scattergun, but still desire the range of a modern shotgun, in-line models with choke tubes are the way to go.

If, on the other hand, you are interested in pursuing game the way our pioneering forefathers did, then a sidehammer, muzzleloading shotgun with a straight cylinder bore is made to order.

Both styles, properly loaded, are effective and reliable hunting tools.

My first experience hunting with muzzleloading shotguns was 15 years ago, a dove hunt. A silage cut I had permission to hunt was drawing doves in such numbers that, even on days when I shot poorly, I often had my limit in an hour or so. I mentioned this to my good friend, Larry Neal.

"If you want to slow down your hunts, we could try for doves with my muzzleloading shotguns," Larry suggested.

Larry owned two muzzleloading shotguns, both 10-gauge double barrels with cylinder bores. Having hunted with muzzleloading rifles, I was familiar with muzzleloaders, but I soon discovered that hunting with muzzleloading shotguns was an entirely different game. To help me get used to the muzzleloader I would be using, Larry and I got together for a pre-hunt shooting session.

Loading the shotguns was simple. I poured a measured charge of 2F blackpowder down the bore. With the ramrod, I seated the charge and covered it with an overcard and felt wad. Then, I poured a measured charge of shot down the bore, and, with the ramrod, seated it snugly with another overcard.

As Larry had guaranteed, both of his muzzleloading shotguns produced good patterns out to 25 yards.

The following weekend, Larry and I took our shotguns, powder horns and possibles bags out to the silage field and positioned ourselves 50 yards apart along a fencerow where doves were crossing in droves. I shot and missed, drawing a verbal ribbing from my hunting buddy.

"Almost anyone could kill a limit of doves in

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