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It was a hunting season of misses, misfires, hangfires and dumbshiiiiite moves for me.

Two days into the season I missed two easy shots at a big three point. I could have clubbed it with a rock. So I decided to do some target shooting to make sure my gun was on. First thing I did was accidentally double load my barrel with two Lee Real bullets and a total of 200 grains of pyrodex. Tried driving the loads out the breech & it all got stuck in there real bad. Crap. I came down with a bad cold & wasn't feeling too good, so blame it on that.

Made it into town the next morning & bought another smokepole. Shot it & it was dead on from the factory. Three days left in the season. Climbed up on the hill by first light & a bruiser 4x4 with eye guards jumped right out in front of me. 30 yards. "Click!" Buck took off.

I fiddled with the gun that night & adjusted the ignition. Got it working pretty good, but I only saw a forked horn the next day. In Washington, Mule Deer have to have 3 pts. on one side. Wife had seen nothing, so we decided to hunt the last day of the season together. I had been seeing a small buck, but he kept his head tucked in the brush. Maybe we could take a better look at him on Sunday.

Got up at 4 a.m. and we were in the field by first light. Saw three does right away & we followed them at a distance up a draw. In the opens across the draw, two bucks were browsing. One was the same forkey, along with the mystery buck. From about 250 yards he looked like he might be legal. There was some cloud cover & the light was flat. Since the bucks didn't see us, we took our time climbing the ridge to get above them. Strong wind in our favor. We traversed to get above the bucks, which by now had turned the corner, heading for a pass with lots of timber. I knew they were just getting a few more bites before they bedded down, so we hoofed it pretty fast to cut them off.

Next thing I knew, I was face to face with the forkey. He wasn't sure about me, and he took a bite. I got down low and blew a doe bleat call to calm him down. We got behind some taller brush and made it quick to the pass & waited. The deer were below us... two bucks, and the does, too. Waited a good 5 minutes when the mystery buck came browsing below. He showed his rack,neck, and the top of his back.

I raised my new gun to shoot him, and it went "Click!" I told my wife to shoot the buck, but she handed me her gun. "You shoot it." So I raised her gun and shot a nice big hole in the dirt. I took my new gun back & capped it up with a fresh one. By now I could only see the bucks head, and he was getting huffy. "Powww!" Right in the chops.

We had such a fun trip this year. Camped out in the woods for 2 weeks, and now we have venison in the freezer to enjoy all winter. Can't wait until next hunting season!
 

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Oh man what a hunt! That's the deal about hunting, sometimes it can be so frustrating. Your persistence paid off.

I am absolutely, completely, and totally jealous of your buck, hunting location, breakfast and especially the tent.

Where I deer hunt, the idea of being on the ground and stalking a deer is just impossible. In my life, I've walked up on less than 5 deer in North East Texas and had a shot at one. Everything we do is based on sitting, ambushing the deer as they come to a field, through a funnel, or heading to bed down.

Of course, no beautiful mountain vistas either. Got any more pics you could share? Loved it!
 

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Glad you enjoyed it, Andrew. Mule deer are sure a lot different than white tails & I bet Washington is a lot different than Texas! I be y'all can shoot more than one deer down there. I wish we could. Folks here only get 1 deer per year. Our family mostly goes for the fun... enjoying time in the great outdoors. If we get a deer it's a bonus. We have white tails, too. They are really skittish and seem to only come out at night. We see them in the valleys, and mule deer on the high ridges.

We've been hunting out here for many years. My Dad started taking me in 1970 & we've had some great hunting trips over the years. Dad passed away a couple years ago, so now it's a little hard being out there without him. Here's a few more pics. The last one is my dad's last buck. It was the biggest one he ever got, just a couple years before he passed away.
 

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Really cool. I've only hunted in snow twice. Yea, whitetails are abundant here but small. Most of Texas is 3 doe and 2 buck, with some areas buck only.
And one that has a live weight over 200 is rarity, most being 70 pounds less.
 

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Congratulations on the deer camp and hunt success...which is a bonus.

Great pics. Like the lit wall tent and breakfast on the stove with the shampoo water heating at the back.

"Here's to you, Dad!"

Glad you had a good one too.
 

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Nice job on the hunt!

And good for you that you did not shoot that double-load! Did you ever get it out? I think if you had to, you could dowse it with water for safety and then work it out all the powder with a rod. Then try again to push out the bullets. Maybe let it all dry and then spray some lubricant before pushing them out. These muzzleloaders need to be handled with a bit of extra care. I had a sabot stop short of the powder last year - I had to push it out and then reclean the barrel. Had I shot the gun as is it may have blown up on me.

After a poor season last year where I saw nothing in the regular gun season, I went out tracking deer in 18" snow with the muzzleloader (ML season is after the regular season) in 10F temps and -10F chill. Stopped where I thought I was near the bedding area and in 15 minutes a 6 pointer walks by about 20 yds away but I was so used to seeing nothing I was caught off guard - by the time I got the hammer cocked he was out of view! I forgot that I had an additional safety and could have had the hammer cocked with the button safety on! Just off guard and not ready.
 

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Boy 18" of snow would be fun to track in. Love hunts like that!

Luckily, I was able to get the double load out of my gun at home in the shop. The gun is a .50 cal. inline, so the breech plug gave me access. I bought a couple of long drill bits. Had to work loose the bullet puller I broke off with the jag attached. That left a nice pilot hole for my bits. I soaked in soapy water, then drilled a 1/8" hole. Then I enlarged the hole with a 1/4" Bit. Lots more lube. The powder was hard packed from try ing to drive the loads out at camp.

I bought a 7/16 steel rod at the hardware store and was able to drive the remaining lead and powder out the breech. Lots of cleaning & the barrel inside looks good as new. I'm gonna wear safety glasses when I shoot it next, just in case! But it looks like I now have a spare gun & they are the same. Might come in handy when I need spare parts!
 
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