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Smokepole season heating up

By By Mike Giles/The Meridian Star
Dec. 15, 2000
After two weeks of the muzzleloader season, things really have heated up in the deer woods. With recent laws changed regarding muzzleloader season, hunters were really fired up and headed for the woods in large numbers.
For the first time hunters in Mississippi had a chance to hunt with scopes on their muzzleloaders during the primitive weapons season. In the
past years many hunters have simply stayed at home during the muzzleloader season. Perhaps one of the main reasons was that iron sights were very hard to see during the prime times at dawn and dusk. A
lot of hunters wouldn't see deer until the last 30 or 40 minutes of hunting time. By that time it is hard to see iron sights.
Lately the gun shops and retail sporting good stores have been busy setting up muzzleloaders with new scopes. The addition of scopes on muzzleloaders has given the sport a shot in the arm. Hunters are now able to see if a deer has a rack or not during the last 30 minutes of hunting time.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of the new law has been the ability of older hunters to take up the sport once again. With a scope on the rifle, hunters are able to pull a fine bead on the deer even during the last few minutes of daylight.
Hunters may take advantage of the traditional style muzzleloaders or they may choose one of the more modern in-line rifles made popular by Tony Knight. Knight was the first person to come up with a modern
muzzleloader that featured in-line ignition, and thus was much more reliable both in operation and accuracy. Now these rifles are even more deadly with the addition of magnifying scopes.
Round balls or maxi-balls are no longer the main staple of serious muzzleloader hunters either. Hornady, Knight and many other manufacturers are making sabots that are used in conjunction with a plastic sleeve, which takes the place of the old patch. These new sabots are accurate and will group very tightly with killing power up to 125 yards. They also expand much like a high-powered rifle bullet. This allows the bullet to do much more damage than the old lead balls. With these bullets, a good blood trail is almost assured. In the past some hunters risked losing deer because they would not leave a discernible blood trail when the deer was hit with a lead projectile that didn't have any expansion.
Jimmy Nolen is one of the many hunters to install a scope on his muzzleloader this year with good results. Nolen harvested a nice buck during his first hunt with a scope on his old muzzleloader. One shot at 80 yards was all it took to bring the buck down with a quick, clean kill. Other hunters are also having good results.
Hunters are reporting that the deer are really using the green patches right now. The black powder season has seen many hunters fill their freezers with succulent venison. Today is the final day of Mississippi's first primitive weapon season, though you can use the old smokepoles during other open rifle seasons and again during a new late season hunt that we'll cover later.
If you still haven't bagged your deer, this afternoon might be the time that brings success. They should be moving just about sundown.
Mikes Giles is an Outdoors writer for The Meridian Star.

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