Yes, I am a bowhunter. But, most of us didn’t begin our hunting experience as bowhunters. And those of us who live in Oregon recognize that the standards and laws in muzzleloader hunting in Oregon are as primitive and challenging as bowhunting.
CONCEPT ONE: What size of broadhead do you use in your muzzleloader? Here is the scenario: You and your buddy draw the same muzzleloader tag, which happens to be the considered the BEST deer tag in the state if you are wanting to score on a record book deer. You and your buddy take off on opening morning all prepared; day packs ready for more than a day! Your ammo is dry, protected from the Oregon snow and rain and your muzzleloader is perfectly loaded for that buck of a lifetime! Your plan is to drive from point A to point B. You are going to do a day hike from point B but, on the way there, you spot a shooter buck down in the timber while driving. Quickly grabbing for your smoke pole, you tell your buddy who is driving “STOP!” “BACK UP!” You have the door open before he even stops, and jump out with your muzzleloader, spot the awesome blacktail buck, who just so happens to be standing in the same spot, put your peep site on him, gently squeeze and BAM! You realize you forgot to take the ram rod out of the barrel! You never knew how much power that muzzleloader had until you saw your ram rod fly through the timber! The last thing you see is the buck running up through the timber perfectly healthy. The thoughts in your head are words I can’t repeat here!
CONCEPT TWO: When you take out on your hunt before the crack of dawn, you know your day pack is fully packed with all the necessities. You know your ammo (bullets, primers and powder) is ready and loaded. You are SO ready for anything! And then, the buck appears out of nowhere! You steady yourself, put the peep site on the vitals, gently squeeze the trigger, and… THE SMOKE POLE HAS SPOKEN! Only to see the buck bound off to the left and then stop! Is he hit? Or did you totally biff the shot? You then realize he’s looking up the mountain at a doe, unfazed, but still standing looking away from you. While adrenaline is pumping, you load your smoke pole. “Bullet, hurry!” He’s still standing, looking up the hill. “Put on the primer, fast!” Carefully, but consciously steadying your rifle, knowing you are excited, take the deep breath, peep is steady on the vitals and you squeeze. CLICK. You forgot to the load the powder first! You think to yourself, “I am such an idiot!”
CONCEPT THREE: You and your buddy, who drew the same tag , are driving from point A to point B to do your hike for that record class buck. You’re munching on Cheetos and drinking whatever, when you look down into the timber see a shooter buck. “DUDE!” “STOP AND BACK UP!” You grab your muzzleloader, which you perfectly loaded before leaving camp. You jump out, while it’s a steady rain and don’t realize until you’ve shot that you forgot to duct tape over your cap. CLICK! A perfect 50 yard shot and nothin’!
Long story short, muzzleloader hunting in Oregon can be very frustrating due to our primitive laws! But as one who loves a challenge, you’ll find me putting in for this particular rifle hunt every year. And if I don’t draw it, you’ll probably find me chasin’ down blacktails and mulies with my stick and string!