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First muzzleloader pistol kill - 9 point buck #209124 11/18/2020 2:44 AM
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Chance Weldon Offline OP
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It's been a long time coming, but I finally managed to get a deer with a muzzleloading pistol.

In my efforts to increase my effective range during muzzleloader season, I traded off my factory 50x209 Encore barrel and ordered a custom MatchGradeMachine 45x209 barrel back at the end of the summer. It arrived about a month ago, but work and home obligations have meant I haven't had much time to develop loads with it. I'm very pleased with the craftsmanship, as always, and I was definitely interested in trying out their new smoke brake after feeling the recoil from 100 grain powder charges in the Optima and previous Encore configuration.



My intention was, and still is, to attempt to try out some 357 Magnum projectiles with the proper sabot, but bullets of all types are getting harder to find. What I did manage to find was a few packs of 225 grain 45 caliber Powerbelt Aerotip bullets, which shot quite accurately out of my Encore. Pushed along with a 100 grain charge of Blackhorn 209, the Powerbelts averaged around 1850 fps even out of the short barrel. Running the ballistics, I felt confident that I finally had my 200 yard muzzleloader handgun, especially with the degree of accuracy I managed to get.

This year's muzzleloader season began on the 7th, and it's been pretty much a bust. While it seems like all of my family and friends have been seeing plenty of movement, all I'd seen was a single doe on opening morning. It's been unseasonably hot the first week of season, but a cold front finally put an end to that.

Which leads us to this morning. Due to Covid, we're not meeting in person at work this week and next, so hunting these much cooler mornings was a given. I almost missed my alarm, but daybreak saw me in the blind overlooking my western food plot. Despite the increased deer movement these past few days, I didn't see a single thing this morning in the plot. As I trekked through the woods on my way out of the plot, I spotted movement in the field ahead. Two does trotted out from behind a hill about 250-300 yards away, chased by a large buck. As the trio moved out of sight, I crept through the fallen leaves and emerged into the field.

I've referenced this field before. My sister and I affectionately call it the killing field, because we tend to be pretty successful when hunting in it. In it, I've put together a "hay bale blind" - a cluster of 5 large round hay bales pushed together with an opening in the middle - located at the top of a hill overlooking the mostly flat 14 acre field. As quickly as I could, I crested the hill and entered the blind. The buck and the two does had vanished, but I decided to wait.

Not a minute later, the buck reemerged from my right, trotting across at about 200 yards away. I couldn't help but notice he was limping badly as he did so. Unfortunately, since I had planned on hunting in the smaller food plot, I didn't bring my rangefinder to get an exact measurement for my ballistic reticle. After blowing a few grunts on my grunt tube and playing a doe bleat, the buck curved my direction and vanished behind the smaller hill in front of me. I set the Encore up on the hay bale, waiting for him to emerge on the hilltop, which I knew to be almost exactly 100 yards away.

Shortly afterward, the buck appeared over the hill and continued half trotting, half limping my way. I was content to let him get as close as possible, and as he approached, I counted at least 8 points. He stopped in the valley below, panting from his futile doe chase. As he turned broadside, I pulled back the hammer and in my excitement settled the crosshairs a little further back than I should have. At only 52 yards, the Encore's muzzle blast echoed through the countryside.

When the smoke cleared, I saw the buck hobble up the hill and disappear down the other side. He didn't reemerge even in the time it took me to reload, so I quietly followed up. Cresting that second hill myself, I saw him laying on the ground at the base. I approached carefully to within just a few yards, but he appeared to not be moving.

That is, until he started to stand up.

I don't know who was more startled, me or him, but before he could get completely up and run, I unholstered my Optima and fired into this shoulder from a mere 12-15 feet away. He fell back down and thrashed a bit as I put some distance between us. Thankfully, that was the end of it.



The buck turned out to be a 9 point, having a small brow tine just above the antler base on his right side. Not quite as wide as I initially thought, but his mass more than made up for it. I'm just happy to have broken my buck drought. It's been almost 5 years since my last one.

He was in pretty rough shape, easily the worst out of all the deer I've ever killed. The reason for his strange gait was quickly apparent: his front left leg was broken about a third of the way up from his joint. I don't know how, but the lack of a wound or scar rules out a poor hit from a bullet. He also had an old wound on his lower right eyelid, as well as a thick white cataract on his right eye that must have really impaired his vision on that side.

Upon closer inspection, I confirmed that I hit him further back than I wanted. It wasn't a gut shot, but I only clipped his lungs and liver with the Powerbelt. Despite the potent load, it didn't exit the deer, but I didn't manage to find it while field dressing him. The shot from the Optima, a 200 grain XPB pushed along at about 1,550 fps, entered just behind his right shoulder and lodged under the hide of his left leg. While I don't currently have a picture of it, I did recover the XPB.

Despite having a few more opportunities to hunt before gun season opens, I think I'll take a bit of a break from hunting until then. I'm still dying to try out that 460 S&W barrel I ordered back last year, and I've got one more buck tag left.


Formerly TN Lone Wolf

"We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided." - J.K. Rowling
Re: First muzzleloader pistol kill - 9 point buck [Re: Chance Weldon] #209130 11/18/2020 3:13 AM
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T Pull Offline
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Wow, great deer with any firearm. Congratulations!

Re: First muzzleloader pistol kill - 9 point buck [Re: Chance Weldon] #209133 11/18/2020 3:21 AM
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junebug Offline
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Nice buck Chance,well done!


junebug
Re: First muzzleloader pistol kill - 9 point buck [Re: junebug] #209136 11/18/2020 5:29 AM
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Bob Roach Offline
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You did very well both hunting and with your great write up on the hunt.
I have not taken my Optima hunting so far. It is very capable, I just have way to many handgun choices, and so little freezer space.
So far I have not taken game with my 260 Remington Encore, my 357 Maximum Contender, 357 Maximum V2, or the Optima. I have the CVA V2 in 357 Maximum loaned out to my next door neighbor. Hopefully he will score with it this season.

Looks like you have a Carbine Forend on the barrel. In my opinion the handgun barrels should all come with the carbine forend. The only down side is it would cost Tony some business. I believe I have five of his forends at the moment, and need to order another one. I have a fourth Encore Pistol Action on it's way.

I had not heard about the muzzle brake for the muzzle loader. I presume it works well. Do you have 357 Sabots? I can probably fix you up with some bullets.

Bob R

Last edited by Bob Roach; 11/18/2020 5:37 AM.

See You At The Range
Re: First muzzleloader pistol kill - 9 point buck [Re: Bob Roach] #209138 11/18/2020 10:36 AM
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racksmasher1 Offline
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Nice Buck Chance !

Re: First muzzleloader pistol kill - 9 point buck [Re: racksmasher1] #209145 11/18/2020 5:03 PM
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rougerocco Offline
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Outstanding! I always give them a few minutes even if I watch them drop...

Re: First muzzleloader pistol kill - 9 point buck [Re: Bob Roach] #209146 11/18/2020 5:13 PM
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Chance Weldon Offline OP
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Thanks guys!
\:\)


 Originally Posted By: Bob Roach
You did very well both hunting and with your great write up on the hunt.
I have not taken my Optima hunting so far. It is very capable, I just have way to many handgun choices, and so little freezer space.
So far I have not taken game with my 260 Remington Encore, my 357 Maximum Contender, 357 Maximum V2, or the Optima. I have the CVA V2 in 357 Maximum loaned out to my next door neighbor. Hopefully he will score with it this season.

Looks like you have a Carbine Forend on the barrel. In my opinion the handgun barrels should all come with the carbine forend. The only down side is it would cost Tony some business. I believe I have five of his forends at the moment, and need to order another one. I have a fourth Encore Pistol Action on it's way.

I had not heard about the muzzle brake for the muzzle loader. I presume it works well. Do you have 357 Sabots? I can probably fix you up with some bullets.

Bob R


It's a 12 gauge forend, actually. I found out when ordering my 460 barrel that if you want a full bull barrel, only the 12 gauge forends will fit by default. Figured I'd go with the bull profile to help mitigate the substantial recoil, and it does help in that regard at the cost of being very unwieldy. Of course, if I need to make a quick offhand shot, that's what the smaller Optima is for.

The smoke brake works great, although I've only used it with full bore projectiles. Between it and the Pachmayr grip, it's definitely more comfortable to shoot than the Optima. I have no idea how it'll handle saboted bullets, but just in case it interferes with them, I had the brake threaded on so it's removable.

Appreciate the offer, but I'm going to put away the muzzleloaders for a bit since gun season is right around the corner. I'll start experimenting with different bullets and sabots after the season ends. That'll give me some time to find some bullets to test.


Formerly TN Lone Wolf

"We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided." - J.K. Rowling
Re: First muzzleloader pistol kill - 9 point buck [Re: Chance Weldon] #209152 11/18/2020 9:26 PM
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REDHAWK1954 Offline
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CONGRATS I am happy you scored five years is a long time.


Michael Joe Moore
Re: First muzzleloader pistol kill - 9 point buck [Re: REDHAWK1954] #209153 11/18/2020 10:28 PM
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Gregg Richter Offline
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Good job, great buck, and with a ML!

I believe that backup shot with the Optima ML is a first!







Re: First muzzleloader pistol kill - 9 point buck [Re: Gregg Richter] #209154 11/18/2020 11:08 PM
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RBO21 Offline
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Congrats! Muzzleloader pistols are cool.

Re: First muzzleloader pistol kill - 9 point buck [Re: RBO21] #209155 11/19/2020 12:10 AM
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Pa. Mike Offline
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Awesome trophy! Congratulations on a great deer and excellent write-up.

Last edited by Pa. Mike; 11/19/2020 12:10 AM.
Re: First muzzleloader pistol kill - 9 point buck [Re: Pa. Mike] #209156 11/19/2020 1:08 AM
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Drycreek3189 Offline
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Congrats Sir, a handgun muzzleloader kill probably puts you in a small group that has accomplished that. Great looking buck and a well told story.


As an aside, I?ve killed several deer with a Powerbelt out of a rifle and they are not particularly tough. I?ve never lost a deer, but all were hit in the heart/lung area and some of the bullets still broke into pieces without a large bone being hit. They do knock the stuffing out of a deer though !

Re: First muzzleloader pistol kill - 9 point buck [Re: Drycreek3189] #209158 11/19/2020 1:48 AM
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PsTaN Offline
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Grats, Chance, That's a great deer!


PsTaN

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"Hold your horses, the elephants are coming, and out stamped Alabama"
Re: First muzzleloader pistol kill - 9 point buck [Re: PsTaN] #209160 11/19/2020 3:11 AM
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Chance Weldon Offline OP
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Thanks for the kind words!

I finally got around to cleaning off the XPB I recovered, next to an unfired one for comparison:


Two of the six petals broke off, but it still managed to make it almost all the way through the buck, stopping just under the opposite hide. The impact velocity of around 1,550 fps is a bit higher than the 45 Colt velocities it was designed for, but as you can see, it performed quite well.


Formerly TN Lone Wolf

"We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided." - J.K. Rowling
Re: First muzzleloader pistol kill - 9 point buck [Re: Chance Weldon] #209161 11/19/2020 4:15 AM
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gunslingerdad Offline
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Nice buck!


still Dave Thomas, just an alias so the gov't dont find me
;\)
Re: First muzzleloader pistol kill - 9 point buck [Re: gunslingerdad] #209165 11/19/2020 2:18 PM
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reflex264 Offline
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Supper nice!!!!


"A quiet hit in the right place is better than a loud miss in the wrong place followed by 10 more shots on the run"

I was a handgun hunter, when handgun wasn't cool.....
Re: First muzzleloader pistol kill - 9 point buck [Re: reflex264] #209166 11/19/2020 3:17 PM
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Buck_358 Offline
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Congratulations Chance
It?s nice to knock the new off a barrel.
Thanks for sharing the story and photos.
D..


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Re: First muzzleloader pistol kill - 9 point buck [Re: Buck_358] #209171 11/19/2020 9:29 PM
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Mark Hampton Offline
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Nice buck - Congrats!

Re: First muzzleloader pistol kill - 9 point buck [Re: Mark Hampton] #209173 11/20/2020 1:10 PM
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Brenden Offline
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Good going, beautiful deer!

Re: First muzzleloader pistol kill - 9 point buck [Re: Brenden] #209177 11/21/2020 12:24 AM
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REDHAWK1954 Offline
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Congrats again. This is the first year in six seasons that I have not connected with my CVA Optima V2 muzzle loader pistol
Passed several small bucks and does but did not connect this season. Tomorrow starts our gun season and I plan to start with my CVA Scout pistol in 6.5 Creedmoor. I hope my luck improves.


Michael Joe Moore
Re: First muzzleloader pistol kill - 9 point buck [Re: REDHAWK1954] #209197 11/22/2020 2:30 PM
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AlanF Offline
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Well done. Looks like the bullet performed very well.


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