Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Primitive Seasons?

I wrote the following because of a discussion on a shooter/hunter forum. I didn't hit on all the details of the situation but it captures my visceral reaction to those who claim to have taken muzzleloading trophies when they use the in-lines.


I remember when many states had no "primitive weapons" or "muzzleloading" seasons. This was a hot discussion item for many, hunters and biologists alike. Some thought those D@#% bow hunters and antique shooters were going to maim and cripple up all the deer (no one particularly cared about anything else!) so that they wouldn't have a deer to shoot OR they thought that these morons would pay the extra money for tags which would be available to be spent on game management without losing a single additional deer. In between, you did seem to have one or two who thought it was no big deal since their daddies or granddaddies had killed all their deer with a muzzleloader. There were big regional prejudices at work, too. In Kentucky they even had a primitive weapons only hunting AREA. Well, it was only natural, this was the "home" of Daniel Boone! What better place to have an area where you could hunt just like the old frontiersman himself! Well, after a bit the inertia was overcome and the laws written or regulations changed and muzzleloaders were allowed. Exact wording depended on the sophistication, knowledge, prejudices and politics of a whole lot of people. Now throw in the inevitable technological advances that will be made by those responsible for marketing and making money for their companies. What do you have? It sure as heck ain't primitive, it even extends to muzzleloading guns using canister grade smokeless powders! Who'da thunk it?

I can't imagine why anyone is surprised that there are hunters so desirous of extra hunting/field time that they will buy the extra license and equipment just to take advantage of the season.

Here in VA for a time, you only got one deer. Didn't matter what you used. Lots of "modern" gun hunters, a few muzzleloading and bow hunters. After all, who was going to spend that extra money for no extra opportunity, well, only the primitive nuts! Then, VA allowed hunters to harvest more of the herd and bag limits rose to 5 deer per season (even west of the Blue Ridge). Low and behold, hunters started to try bow and muzzleloading hunting. Heck, if they failed they could always get their deer during the 2 week regular season with a sure fire .30-06 (or equivalent). Then, the regular season was really crowded so a lot more hunters would show up for the one-week earlier muzzleloading season and get the jump on their buddies in the competition for those "big" bucks.

That created the market for the product improvements and it has been snowballing ever since. For the last few years the muzzleloading seasons have been more crowded than the "regular" gun season! Why not? Where long shots aren't much more than 100 yards hunters using modern in-lines and conical projectiles are at absolutely no disadvantage compared to .30-06/.30-30 shooters AND they get to start a week early. A concurrent change is in the view of this hunt by game managers who see it as a way to remove more deer from the herd and to better control regional populations.

Another interesting development here in VA is that regs prohibit the use of smoothbores (like my Brown Bess) during muzzleloading season but not during regular gun season (when I could use old Bess OR my 12 double barrel!). No, not due to ballistic inferiority, heck it's primitive... and allowed during the regular season with the pretty equivalent Foster slug loads. But we do allow in-lines (including the smokeless shooters) with any sabot and telescopic sights. So the true primitive hunter doesn't have a season unless that hunter doesn't mind competing with even more .30-30 equivalent guns. That's a big deal to the primitive shooters who originated the movement for muzzleloading seasons and are now outnumbered by the "anything to kill another deer" crowd.

Why is this a hot button for me? Well, even though I've seen this struggle since a formative part of the regulation process and even though my Dad was involved in these early discussions, I'm solidly on the traditionalist side of the fence. I'd like to be able to safely hunt deer during the ML season with my Bess even if that means that I have to get just as close as I do when carrying my stick-bow. I've never hunted to kill but to go to that place (and time) to which I'm transported. A place where a man was a man and not some product of a nagging wife and gang of 5 nutty queers.

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