Wednesday, October 12, 2022

I am starting to get excited about deer hunting

Michigan's DNR finds itself in a bit of a pickle with regard to deer hunting and the need to reduce the deer herd.

The number of younger people picking up hunting has not kept pace with the number of old-timers who can no longer get out in the field. Suburbanites feel possessive about their resident deer and ban hunting.

Michigan has issues with Chronic Wasting Disease, Bovine TB and Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease. Too many deer. Too close together. Concentrated feed sources (like beneath "bird feeders") where noses rub in quick succession facilitate the spread of diseases.

Under Michigan regulations, I can hunt deer with a bow or crossbow from October 1 until January 1. It is not an exaggeration to say that modern crossbows are more accurate than the shotgun I first started hunting deer with.

I can hunt with a muzzleloader from December 2 until December 11.

I can hunt both bucks-and-antlerless deer in Eaton County with shotgun, handgun or "straightwall-modern" from November 15 until November 30.

In Eaton County I can harvest up to 10 does (total for the year) from December 12 until January 1, 2023 using firearms legal for my area.

There are also several weekends in September and early October that are open for firearm hunting for youth and people with disabilities.


My current concern is figuring out what to shoot out of my muzzleloader, a CVA Wolf. I have killed deer with a muzzleloader using 80 grains of granular, ffg, 777 powder and round-balls. I have also harvested deer using home-cast REAL "maxi-balls", SST .452" and sabots and .429 pistol bullets and sabots all in front of 100 grains of 777. I don't hot-rod my muzzleloaders. 100 grains of 777 will push a 250 grain bullet out of the end of the barrel at about 1800 fps.

It is not hard to kill a deer. They die slowly but easily. The difficulty is having enough patience to wait long enough before tracking them.

Part of my quest is complicated by shortages of components. My first choice, if I could find the sabots, would be the .452 Flex-tip and the appropriate Harvester Crush-rib sabot. Since that brand/size sabot is difficult to find, I have choices to make. The two main contenders are:

Another complication is that muzzleloaders can be finicky. For reasons known only to Saint Hubert, very minor changes in load or projectile can result in major changes in accuracy. It does not matter how high-tech the projectile, it is all for naught if it does not hit the target in the vitals.

It is entirely possible that my muzzleloader will love one but hate the other.

The advantage of the 0.452" is that I know people who reload .450 Bushmaster and would love to get my "extras" if it is a dud in my muzzleloader.

The advantage of the 0.430" is that there are far more reviews for that particular sabot and they are uniformly favorable.

Deer-Lease update

Due to one of the parties carefully perusing the documentation/agreement for our lease of the hunting party, they managed to "disqualify" several of the people who have been hunting there since 1985. I can only speculate about their motives but personality-friction is a real thing.

I extended an invitation to one of the orphaned gentlemen to hunt my 10 acres in Eaton Rapids. He was so grateful that I was embarrassed. His place of employment went Tango-Uniform 18 months ago and, by all rights, he should have been on disability a decade ago.

I took him a doe last year. He lives on the south-side of Lansing. In moving the deer from the back of my truck to his "shop", I left a broad swath of bloody drag-marks down the street, up his driveway and through the gate.

Drag-marks can be ambiguous with regard to direction...whether it was an inbound corpse or one being dragged out for disposal. Neighborhoods being what they are, I am sure the old-biddies were checking to make sure that Theresa, his wife, was still hale-and-healthy.

My buddy is in Las Vegas. He and Theresa got married 20 years ago and this is their second-honeymoon. He will tour my 10 acres when he returns and we will figure out where to place blinds to maximize his chances of success.

One thing I admire about my friend is that Theresa had an 8-year-old son when he married her. He raised her son as if he was his own, even if it meant a seemingly endless string of fender-benders over the years.


  1. My daughter let someone hunt her property in Northern Maine. They got a nice size Moose. From the picture, looks to be around 5 or 6 hundred pounds. Hard to tell how many points it has, but I would guess six or so.

    1. Moose meat is absolutely delicious!!!

      Unfortunately, they seem programmed to run into the deepest water or fastest currenty they can find and then die.

    2. Moose is good. Better than most deer especially ones on browse.

  2. I use a .54 cal flintlock with a patched ball or on damp days a .54 cal cap lock Hawken with a sabot each with 80 grains of ffg. Much easier to keep in mind and both work great. Never lost a deer. ---ken

  3. I would consider the crossbow given all the downsides to lead in meat.

    1. Can you provide any documented downsides to lead bullets? All I've seen are unsupported claims and assumptions, often conflating organic lead with metallic lead.

      Besides, damage from either a bow or an arrow means you don't keep meat from anywhere near the impact site.

    2. Well, the only arrow killed deer I ate from had virtually zero bloodshot meat. At least, much less than what high power bullets created wound channel.

      A good time to collect some protein for the future. It is already expensive but I'm pretty sure next year, we will be looking at these 'good old days'.

  4. I know some folk that could use Huberts guidance when hunting . I had to ban my own brother for shooting a pitiful little doeling not even as big as my German Shepherd dog . He hit her with three 12g slugs in the hips and blew away any meat that would have been worth eating .

  5. Speaking of drag marks and public perception...about ten years ago I was the midnight shift commander at my police department. One of my officers struck two deer , killing one and breaking the back of the second. The injured deer crawled off while the injured officer was being tended to. I instructed an officer to drag the dead deer into the woods. While there he found and dispatched the injured deer.
    When I got back to the office I had a message to call Communications regarding her witnessing a police officer running over a homeless man, then dragging him into the woods to kill him. I was unable to get her to understand that it was a deer!
    Next morning she's in the chiefs office and at 10 am, when I should be sleeping, I found myself leading the woman, my assist chief and a state trooper into the woods to view dead deer.
    Ah, the public!

    Retired Cop

  6. Try both rounds, at least 3 shots each to see what the group is like... sigh... And yes, politics and personalities usually screw up good deals...

  7. I use powerbelts in my 50 Cal muzzleloader; they aren't cheap but they work well and load easily.
    I put them over 2 50 grain pellets of pyrodex; my gun can handle up to 150 grains but I feel it isn't necessary.

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