1st Time Hunting With A Muzzleloader

Chairman

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I went ML hunting Monday afternoon - for the very first time. About 10 minutes before legal shooting time was up, I decided to leave. All of a sudden, I heard some brush "snap"... Then I heard it again.... About a minute later THE BUCK that's been hanging around my property, stepped out at 40 yards. He froze - for what seemed like 30 seconds. He was staring to my right - he's looking at my truck. I managed to get my ML up, and put the sights right in the middle of his chest - he was standing straight on (barely quartering, but not much). I squeezed the trigger and.... a doe behind the buck jumped straight up! She was standing behind him (like a shadow). I didn't know she was there! Then, the buck jumped and started to turn around...and fell to the ground. He jumped back up...and disappeared.
We only found one blood trail - it looked like they were running together (?). Two hours later (dark-thirty), we found the doe laying in the creek licking her wound - in the right rear leg. I dispatched her, and took her to the house. I felt terrible about wounding her, but like I said - I never knew she was there. She must have come up behind him just as I squeezed the trigger.
We looked for the buck until 9 PM, but no luck. The next morning me, my wife & a neighbor looked for the buck some more. We looked until about 11 AM, then my neighbor had to leave. My wife looked the rest of the day. I didn't get much sleep the night before, so I didn't last much longer than my neighbor. My brother came all the way down from KC today, to help us look again. Nothing, Nada, Zip - Zero.........
I shot what would have been my best buck ever - and then some. But I ended up with a doe that just happened to be coming up behind him (a nice one, actually). There's no way I could have shot the doe, without having shot through the buck first. We figured out the path of the bullet - through his chest, out his left lung & into her right rear leg. My first hunt with a ML'r .....and look what happens.
I don't know how to feel, now. This bruiser of a buck has been hanging around my property for about 2 weeks. My neighbor & I have been keeping track of him since we first saw him. My neighbor has been hunting him hard during bow season. The buck came as close to 15 yards from him, but not in his shooting lane.
My neighbor has kept me informed of all the times he's seen the buck - what a great neighbor! We've both decided to hunt this guy - at the same time. We've really been hunting hard.
I bought a new ML this year - I wanted to try something new. I didn't hunt the opening weekend, mainly because I wanted to practice more - before hunting with it. I haven't hunted with open sights, for quite some time.
I was hoping for a chance at the buck during ML season - and I got it. I just didn't expect for him to come walking out the first time out!  Not only that, he stood perfectly still for me! I took my time, remembered to "breathe" and s-q-u-eee-z-ed the trigger.
When that doe jumped, I immediately thought "Oh My God - there was another deer behind the buck"! To me, shooting at a deer while another deer's behind it,is not an option. The doe must have come up while I was focusing on the bucks chest, or it was standing behind the buck - totally hidden. The buck had just come from some heavy brush into the clearing, while the doe was still standing in the brush behind him. That's the only reason I could figure out, since I didn't see her legs. This has never happened to me before.
What more could go wrong? Then I found out - only one blood trail.... How could I have shot 2 deer, and only have 1 blood trail?! There's no way I could have missed the buck, or I would have missed the doe, too. Go figure......
We searched for 2 1/2 days - nothing. I shot the buck, wounded a doe, found 1 blood trail, and found the doe - not the buck. Now that we didn't find the buck, I feel even worse. To top this off, it was my first time hunting with a muzzleloader. This is going to make one heck of a hunting memory - a very confusing one at that...
 



Passthru

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 Chairman,Dont get discouraged,when i started bow hunting i lost my first deer,a nice buck,shot him at 10 ft,no blood that i could see my lantern wouldnt light for me that night and it rained before morning.
 Im sorry,wish i was there id try to find it for you also.
 By the way,if your not to far away i could maybe come by this weekend,it would be to late for the meat but if its a trophy sized buck???
 

(Edited by Passthru at 5:41 am on Dec. 6, 2001)
 

Tinhorn

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Man I can't believe that happened, of all the luck......Hopefully the Buck somehow survived for another day.

I know a guy who did the same thing with his ML,  when he walked up there, a doe was laying there ???  he thought he must be going blind, she didnt have horns, but then noticed the buck about 20 yards away, also dead

Tinhorn
 

Chairman

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Passthru - I appreciate the offer.  We looked for 3 days - and then it rained yesterday....so much for a blood trail.  We knew it was supposed to rain soon, so we turned every leaf & rock over, looked under every cedar tree & even checked his bedding area for the next 2 days(in case he survived) trying to find him.  He wasn't a record book buck, but he was a wall hanger.  I'm praying he's still out there - and not suffering.

Tinhorn - My neighbor likes my ML so much, he's thinking of getting one just like it.  After we found the doe, and finished looking for the buck the 1st night, he said he didn't know if he wants a ML like mine now.  He said, "That's such a powerful ML, it not only knocked the antlers off, it performed a sex-change operation, too"!  I thanked him for making me laugh.  Lord knows I needed to, because I was beginning to think I was going crazy....
 

jayber

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I wouldn't give up on your ML just yet.  It sounds like a freak thing that happened to you.  Kind of like my Rem. 1100 not reloading for a second shot when I had a monster 12-pt. standing broadside at 60 yards.......guess it wasn't meant to be.  Anyway, I've got a buddy that swears by 'em, ML's that is.  He boasts of dropping deer like a rock out to 200 yards!!  So hang in there.....and bag him on the next shot.
 

spectr17

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Chairman,

Losing a deer is probably one of the worst experiences in hunting. It just leaves you wondering about what went wrong. All we can do is make the best shot possible and track/search till we drop.

One big buck that we tracked for two days and never found was then found in the spring by the farm boys during planting season. He was 50 yards from where  a buddy and me thought he died, we just couldn't find him in the thick brambles and briars. He lead us to a field and then backtracked into the briars on the edge of a flooded river bottom.

This deer was tracked for 2 days with a blood trail you could see without even bending down. He was the toughest deer I've ever seen for how long he went with the amount of blood he was losing. It still makes me sick to think about it.
 

Chairman

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After 4 1/2 days of searching for the buck, we've decided to let it go.  You're right Jesse - it's hard to shoulder.  I imagine I'll be getting sick over it for some time.  There isn't much more I can do..

Thanks for the replies
 

StringShooter

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Your right, it's one of the things that we have to deal with now and then. I think it's happened to all of us at one time or another.

You gave it your best and you can't ask for much more than that.
 

Matt in MO

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Howdy Chairman. Got a story that might cheer you up. Last weekend (last of ML season) one of the guests came back to the cabin all excited - he had just shot a big 10 pointer at dusk. We all look for a long time with flashlights in the direction he ran off. No sign at all. Just by chance one of the guys walked the opposite direction and found a 3 pointer dead as nails - perfect heart shot. The guy racks his brain for a while and finally admits he had quite a few deer over there, he had looked down and checked his primer before looking down the sights and shooting the WRONG deer! tee hee hee! I was secretly glad as we have several nice bucks on the property but not quite yet trophy class.
 

Chairman

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Now that's it's been almost 2 months, I can look at the situation without getting too upset.  I realize these things happen.  I enjoy hunting to no end, plus I have the utmost respect for wildlife.  When something like this happens, I constantly go over it in my head - what did I do wrong, what could I have done better, etc.?  I tend to beat myself up, better than anyone else ever could.  We are our own worse critics, after all.  I wouldn't do that to a friend, so why do that to myself...  Once I realize this, the "healing" begins.

I think one of the hardest things about it was that people who weren't "there" were second-guessing everything.

A neighbor who helped look for the buck, kept asking "are you sure this happened - are you sure that happened"??????  That was so-o-o frustrating!

A couple of weeks ago, the same neighbor had a similar experience while bowhunting.  He arrowed a nice buck, the buck fell & he went for help to drag it out.  When they returned, the buck was gone!  No blood trail or hair!  When he told my wife about it, my wife asked him, "Are you sure"?!  LOL  He immediately came over to my house to apologize.  I guess the taste of his own medicine left a bitter taste in his mouth....  He said he now knows "exactly" how I felt.  I just smiled at him.  I didn't let his comments affect our friendship, so it was no problem accepting his apology - with a ornery smile, of course.
 

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