Why hunt with blackpowder?

“Hunting starts when you are inside the hearing, smelling, seeing range of the game. Everything else is target shooting.”

Hunting is an important part of human culture. It has been and will always be part of our lives. However the world is changing. More and more technical features are sneaking into a hunter’s life as well making the way we hunt more and more effective. Digital range finding rifle scopes, long range magnum calibers, night visions, ballistic computers… they will all make you successful, but they also kill the real adventure and joy of hunting.

Red stag. Mthyic game of Hungary

Red stag. Mthyic game of Hungary

I strongly believe that hunting is a learning process. A school you can only master if you first learn to respect nature, learn to be a useful part of it. I was lucky to learn from an old hunter friend of mine. We walked the woods together long before I took my first wild boar on a sunset stalking. He taught me important values I try to keep to this day. He lived by the clearest ethics of hunting. He had some very simple rules:

  • Master the way you hunt so you don’t cause unnecessary suffering to the game.

  • Take only from nature what you really need.

  • Don’t miss any of the steps of the ladder of hunting.

The red deer has a sacred role in central European hunting traditions. The most important red deer in a hunter’s life is his “Life deer”, or the “Lebenhirsch” as the German hunters call it. This game is the peak and the mark of the end of the hunting career. Shooting the “Life deer” is something the hunter must deserve with an ethic hunter’s life. It is all about temperateness, continuous learning, selfdenial and hard work. This is what I am looking for in hunting.

Blackpowder hunting

ready to hunt

Original 15.6 mm caliber Central European hunting rifle

Hunting starts when you are inside the hearing, smelling, seeing range of the game. Everything else is target shooting. The more modern accessories you use the less you have to know, the less you have to work, the less you have to practise. The less effort you need to take the game, the less the challenge and adventure are, and the less the value of the trophy will be, no matter how big the fangs of the hog are or how heavy the antlers of the deer are.

Blackpowder hunting puts these values back into hunting. A blackpowder hunter will master his knowledge of nature so he or she will be able to stalk the game real close. They learn the history of the gun they are using, understand the people of past centuries, respect the values of sustainable hunting. In this system the joy, adventure and experience of hunting is much more important then the size of the trophy.

“So why you should hunt with a muzzleloader? It is simple: it is a greater challenge, it puts the adventure back into hunting, and it is a highly regarded traditional hunting method.”

The limits of blackpowder arms

boar copy1

Flintlocks vs. wild boar. Are you man enough for a hunt like this?

There is no need to prove the killing power of muzzleloaders. These rifles and shotguns were used effectively for hunting for centuries and they are capable of taking game just as well today. The bullet fired from a good quality blackpowder rifle delivers tremendous kinetic energy, enough for hunting the African “big five” as well. If you have any concerns about accuracy check the achievements of the long range muzzleloading shooters. These fellows hit the targets at 1200 yard distances as well… A good muzzleloader with a well developed hunting load will put all bullets hole in hole up to 200 meters.

However, we do not intend to hunt with these guns at 200 meters. The bullets we fire are heavier, larger diameter projectiles with much worse BCs than modern boat tail aerodynamic hunting bullets. Therefore the trajectory is highly curved which reduces the optimal sighting distance to under 100 meter levels.

We must not forget the limits of the iron sights either. There are many modern in-line muzzleloaders on the market that can be fitted with high power scopes, but most traditional blackpowder hunters will choose traditional rifles with open sights. This surely makes hunting a harder task, greater challenge, but also improves the value of success.

Balázs Németh