I seem to remember it being 1975 the first time I hunted deer with a black powder rifle. It was one of those zovanas that a friend of my dadís loaned to me. In Michigan you need an unfilled fire arm season license/tag to be able to hunt deer with a muzzle loader. In 1976 my brother bought me a 50 cal. Thompson Center Hawkins kit for Christmas. We worked on it for about a month getting the metal all cleaned up as well as the stock. Once the metal was as clean and smooth as I ever would be able to get it I used a Beachwood Casey blue on it with so so results, about 1984 I used browning on it. All summer long I went with my brother and the guys from work that had started a smoke pole shooters club to shoot twice a week. My brother and I would shoot every day Monday thru Friday during the week. For the 1977 Firearm deer season I got a doe permit along with the buck tag with the idea I would use the Hawkins to fill that doe tag. Using a patched round ball, 75gr. real black powder (hard to come by these days) opening day of ML season arrived a bright sunny day. Round about 10:00 AM and not seeing a deer we decided Rob would push a long thorn apple thicket along a creek. Several does ran out of the thicket but only one came out with in my comfort range, I pull the ML up place the bead on her front shoulder and touch the set trigger and breathed on the trigger. Once the smoke cleared I saw nothing. Go to the spot where she had been standing to look about and wait for Rob to arrive to help me look. We did ever widening circles around the area never finding a hair or any blood decided that somehow I had managed a total miss. Hunted the rest of the week and never did manage to get a doe to fill that tag.
Scroll thru the years and I kept filling my buck tags with my centerfire rifle and never bought a doe tag again to fill with the smoke pole. 1995 My eyes had got so bad I could no longer shoot worth a hoot with that Hawkins with the sights that were on it. I bought a 50 cal. Thompson Center plains rifle which was drilled and taped for a scope mount. I mounted a T/C quick release mount on it and a Weaver K4 four power scope on it I had got at a yard sale for $5.00. That year I saved my second buck tag to use during ML season I spent the first week at our UP deer camp. Where I managed to break the ram rod but made a make shift one from a Maple sapling to make it thru the week long season. Never seen a buck the whole week and it was cold like minus 15F for a daily high the whole week, returned home for one more week of ML season also never seeing a buck.
1997 For Christmas My wife bought me a 54cal. Remington stainless steel 700 ML for Christmas, the 54 the only one they had left in stock. New rifle I started using a new substitute powder called clean shot, sabots with 230gr. Hornady XTP bullets. I managed to wound a doe during the 1998 ML season that my hunting partner finished off.
Seemed like every year after that I had to do a reset up as I would not be able to find the same sabots I had been using and the clear shot powder was no longer being made the company had went out of business. I was complaining about that when Kare says you know how to fix that donít you. 2002 I bought a real nice used Remington 50 cal. In stainless, switched to Triple 7 powder and stopped hunting with a center fire rifle except in 2003 when I used the Ruger 77 - 243 that had been my dadís deer rifle and he had given to me with the statement he was no longer going to deer hunt at 85 years of age. I only filled one tag with the Ruger at the UP deer camp then hunted ML season at home again never seeing a Buck.
2004 thru 2010 I only hunted with a ML Mostly at home in the lower. Never seen but one buck I could take a shot at and it was a bunch of stupid mistakes. Scope set on 9 power and the buck 25 yards away so all I saw was hair when I put the rifle out the blind window. Turned the scope down just as the buck started to move I touched it off. Searched for that deer for a long time never finding hair nor blood so figure I had missed clean.
2010 Kare bought me a Remington 870 slugger for our 25th anniversary; I harvested a nice 8 point with it that year, never seen another buck the rest of the season or during the 3 weeks of ML season.
2011 was about the same a Buck during firearm season with the 870 never seeing another buck for the rest of the season or 3 weeks of ML season
2012 I missed a buck during ML season and then never saw another that year.
2013 Never seen a buck during firearm season but did see one during ML season. Had a hard time getting the 50 cal. Remington to fire, when it finally went off I was so worked up I missed.
Got two new springs 30 pound ones and installed them in the bolts of the Remingtonís which I posted about in the gun section in the spring of 2014. Firearm season 2014 I harvested a nice 7 point opening day, Missed another nice buck in some brush 5days latter. Saw at least two really nice bucks but they were chasing does and moving right along so I never got a shot at them. Muzzle loader season comes. I decided I am going to wait for a chance at those bigger bucks rather than shoot a spike I had been seeing right along all thru both firearm season and ML season. As I was going out in the afternoon on the 6th Kare asked if I was going to shoot a spike. I told her not right away I was going to wait to see if I could get one of the big guys. 30 minutes latter a spike walks by my blind 35 yards away. Never seen a buck after that except when I was out walking the dog seeing the same spike twice in as many days. Season is coming to an end quick figure I have 3 days left as I went out the door Thursday morning. When I came in for lunch Kare said she wanted to go to her momís on Friday as her birthday was Saturday the 20th. I decide at that time any legal buck I saw I was going to try to harvest. After lunch I walk to my blind in the front yard and get settled in. The first doe comes out of the pines at just after 4:00 PM to feed slowly across the lawn to the woods on the other side of the driveway and then go to the corn field across the road. They kept coming till I had counted up to 9, I was talking on the radio to Kare who said there were deer in the back yard that had got my pup to barking. She also said there were a few out the living room window across the creek. It had been over cast all day so never was what you could call bright. About 5:00 PM I decided to start packing things up for the walk back to the house when another deer walks out of the pines at my 70 yard marker. I look at it with the binocs and see it is a spike I had never seen before. I turned the scope up to 6 power on the 50cal Remington loaded with 80gr. of triple 7 MMP green sabot and a 300gr. Speer gold dot bullet. He was quartering to me at about a 50 degree angle so I put the cross hairs just in front of his left shoulder and touched it off. Fire jumped out the end of the barrel and the blind filled with smoke. I got a very quick glimpse of the buck hunching up and running. I grab a quick load dump the powder in the bore then start the sabot and bullet down the bore, pull the ram rod and drive it home. Kare comes on the radio and asked if that was me who had shot. I tell her yes it was, she asked where I was I told her reloading in the blind as I searched my coat and pants pocket for my capper. Kare said I didnít need to reload as he wasnít going any place he was laying just off the lawn by the barberry bush along the creek; he had run about 45 yards. I go to the house strip off my hunting duds turned on the flood lights, went down to him with Kare and got pictures of my first muzzle loader deer with 5 inch spikes. Since it was now dark it was nice to have the flood lights to field dress him by. Small body deer, am torn now if I should have waited longer for a bigger buck.