Archive for the ‘Early Flintlock’ Category

2017 Flintlock Season

   The day after Christmas has always been special for me. The Pennsylvania primitive deer hunting season begins. I am a history lover especially of the French and Indian War and the War of Independence. That being said the lure of the flintlock has been an influence with me since my youth.

The weather for this first day was very cold and windy. Snow had arrived for Christmas although we received only about one and half inches. The woods were noisy and sneaking around was not easy.

I spent half a day on this first day of the season. (December 26) I needed to quit around noon to get ready to visit my in-laws for our Christmas get together. This day I was a pusher of deer for my step-father, Bob Miller. He would miss a deer during one of the drives. I saw eighteen deer during those hours with three deer very close. However, as what often happens, bolted just prior to shoot. Once the eyes make contact deer often react quickly. I saw a grouse this day which is something I hadn’t seen in these woods in quite some time. I would see the grouse again on the 27th.

Experimenting with my flintlock sights found much discouragement. Around 7:30, I raised the rifle only to see nothing. In this  lowlight condition my sights appeared very fuzzy and I couldn’t discern the front sight at all until conditions brightened greatly at around 8:30. I even use my old glasses for this problem improves with them. Nighttime vision is worse with car lights and reflective things looking like stars. This has been an issue for me. In fact I have been to eye doctor for tests several times since summer.

The second morning found me at a local game lands around 7:30 A.M. My plan was to sneak around seeking a deer in the brushy areas. However, I realized that the day before had seen many hunters since tracks were everywhere.

Around 9:30 I spotted a deer among grapevines and briars. I raised the flintlock but wasn’t sure of the gender enough to shoot. I looked through my field glasses and could see a bald deer. I raised the flintlock again before lowering it. I raised the third time and shot and missed. The forty plus shot had failed. Off and on I would raise this rifle in varying conditions in attempts to learn how to reshoot and align the sights.

I am seeing shiny “ghost images” of the sight as if I am seeing two sights. Anyone out there experiencing such issues?  Anyone have any thoughts? I am wondering about widening the V-cut in an attempt to make the front sight more visible.

I left this area and went to a favored area to hunt. I spent the day until three o’clock. I saw a total of nineteen deer this day, but failed to get anymore shots. Probably, would have missed anyway.

The weather was single digit with windy conditions. In fact the temperature only reached about 11 degrees for a high. This is not weather for setting on a stand for much time so I walked the entire time afield. Not bad for an old feller!

This morning, December 28, finds me committed in the morning and evening so I decided to not hunt since my time afield wouldn’t be many hours.


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Morning fireball

I walked the dark hours to a predetermined place to watch a field. I could easily see the Big Dipper and Orion in the pre-dawn sky. A frost engulfed everything. This is the first frost of the season.

Just about seven in the morning I could see the forms of two deer entering the field. I believed just by their bulk indicted big male deer. I was correct. They walked just out in front of me and I could see their nice racks despite the early time frame. Eventually the two walked out of site. Three doe entered the field to my left. Unfortunately, I was having difficulty observing them due to goldenrods next to me. I eased up by stretching my neck. Whoa… directly in front of me was a back of a feeding deer. This deer was about thirty-five yards. I got Jeremiah ready for a shot.                                 

This deer fed closer before raising the head. It was a four-point buck. He watched the does and gradually moved away. I remember thinking what great photo opportunity I just lost.  I believe trying to get my camera in position would have been observed.

Anyway, back to the does. I eased up a little to see over the goldenrods and they were still feeding. However, the old doe sensed something amiss with my slight movement. They fed awhile, but she led them away into the woods. My fault completely!

I began moving around and setting occasionally. I saw some more deer but too far for shots.

I crossed the road top circle around to the jeep when I came upon two feeding does. I couldn’t get a shot. I was between the landowner’s home and her hobby building. I know she wouldn’t mind me shooting as long as the shot was safe. I couldn’t shoot. The deer eventually moved off the cross the road I had just came from.

I moved back trying to see if I could waylay them.  I was, once again, crossing the field looking left. I turned right and there was a doe feeding. I was about forty yards and she never saw me! I missed again! How could this be?

   I went off moving around searching for sign of a hit. Nothing at all. I went over the hill where the deer went and saw a doe standing. She was feeding. Could this have been the same deer? I believe it was. With that I decided to head to the jeep.

I set up an old muffler I found in the ditch line and shot. The shot was low. Tomorrow I will be using Old Jacob, my 50 caliber flintlock. I need to check this new sight out on the smoothbore.

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Tuesday, October 16th, was breezy. I went into the area I was planning to watch for deer and settled in to await dawn. I began seeing deer, or I should say deer forms, just prior to seven.

Can you see the bedded deer?

As the dawn grew in intensity I began seeing more deer and much clearer.

Four doe fed in the field towards me, but still moving to my right some. I could see them at about fifty yards or so, when I noticed them looking to my left. More deer were coming into the field. I could see racks on two for sure and would later see four bucks in the field with a single doe. Interestingly, once the buck reached a point just out in front of me, I turned and the four doe were gone. I began taking photos.





    Three of bucks moved ahead and gradually worked downslope to the woods. The fourth buck went back the way they came. The doe began  to walk along the field’s edge exactly where I wanted her to go. She walk past at about thirty yards and I didn’t shoot. The doe was a young one and, at this time, I was hoping to get a bigger deer. All of this lasted until 8:55 A.M. What a morning watching all this action.

I began still hunting when I walked upon a bedded doe. This deer was about ten yards from me and holding tight. This doe was a small one, too. In fact, she may have been the one I passed on earlier. I took a couple of pics before she bolted. I would see her again at about 15 yards.

The noon hour was upon me and I started a trek diagonally on a gas well road. I spotted a mid-sized deer feeding up the slope along an old right-a-way cut. This cut has goldenrods and grasses and is almost grown shut with tree limbs. I began stalking her with success. Bad luck was about to occur. I heard someone driving on the road behind me. I motioned and the driver stopped. I waited for the deer to turn broadside or quartering away.  I shot and missed! The doe looked up but away from me and began walking away.  Was it human error or my new sight?  I know I sometimes fail to place my cheek tight on the stock allowing for the front sight to shoot high. I may need to explain what firearm I am using. This is a French fowling piece common in the late 18th century. I named the 62 caliber (20 gauge) smoothbore, Jeremiah, in honor of an ancient Jewish prophet. The barrel has no rifling, so accuracy is not that great. I try to limit shots to under forty yards if possible. I can shoot lead shot for turkeys and other small game if desired.            

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The dark woods trip for the first day of the muzzleloading season yielded the sounds of a Barred Owl. I thought to myself the day was already a good one. A half-mile farther and a Great-Horned Owl began hooting away. I continued walking through the woods quietly and the big bird continued hooting until a crow sounded off. I set a spell waiting for the light to get strong enough to begin sneaking around. Old Jeremiah was anxious to get out for a deer hunt. last year I did not hunt the early season. Jeremiah is my 62 caliber smoothbore flintlock. I try to keep any shots under forty yards since accuracy lessens  after that distance due to the barrel not having any rifling to spin the lead ball.                                

I walked tight along the woods line while walking a field’s edge. two deer were feeding at the other end of the field. Moments later I saw the backs of three feeding deer about sixty yards. I tightened my stance ten feet into the woods to await their movements. The deer slowly fed towards me stopping at thirty yards. I just didn’t feel like shooting. The “hunter mode” had not kicked in! I debated trying to remove my camera from my shoulder bag, but I figured with the sun aiming the bright rays directly upon me that any movements may be amplified allowing the deer to see the movement.

Sure there was plenty of limbs and vegetation to help hide me, but a shot was very much possible. The sun had cleared the treetops and the doe stared at me. I expected she may have seen something shining. After a few moments she turned and entered the woods I was standing in.  I turned left and could see the deer about twenty-eight yards into the woods. The instinct took over and I leveled the flintlock. I could not get a clean shot due to briars and limbs. One deer moved towards me to about eighteen yards. I held off hoping for a clean shot. Funny how the hunter mode happens. I passed up very good and easy shots and only decided to take a deer when no shots were offered. No regrets! Some of my hunting friends will understand!

   I saw a lot of squirrels this day and I searched for some sheepshead mushrooms and found none.  I would see three more deer. By mid-morning I was in my tee-shirt and by 11:15 I was heading home to work in the yard. It was a good day.






*************************************************************************************************************************************************************************On OIL CREEK & TITUSVILLE RAILROAD’S PERRY STREET STATION

  October 13, we rode a train at Titusville, Pennsylvania running along Oil Creek. We spent much time in the open car. We stopped by Drake’s

Laurie with Lori and Allen Leard

oil well site and could see hints of historic oil wells and derricks along the way. Edwin Drake, in 1859, built the first successful oil well in the world here.

Oil creek is a beautiful waterways producing a great fishery. We saw many fly-fishermen as we rode the train along the creek.


We saw a Bald Eagle very close while traveling for the rode. We saw a lot of Mergansers and Canada geese on Oil Creek. I included a few photos of the trip.


Oil Creek


Oil Derricks


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  DSC_0002  I need to be honest with myself. I still endure pain issues in the knee that I had surgery on. Whenever, I feel healing is doing well, I have setbacks with pains; discomfort; clicks, and pinches. I need to tell myself to limit the miles, and avoid the steeper hills. I am still hopeful less pain will be true, as more time drifts along.                           DSC_0005

Last Monday, October 19, I hunted  for half a day. I had 22 deer sightings before returning home at around 1:00. I, also, saw a red fox, and a flock of turkeys. Lots of squirrels!

Prior to nine in the morning, I spotted a doe in the dogwood; crab apples and goldenrods. The deer was around forty yards or so. I believed it was closer.  I leveled “Jeremiah” and missed! Jeremiah is my .62 caliber smoothbore French fowler. The original style dates back into the latter eighteenth century. I have killed deer with this firearm in the past, but I still mess up on occasion. The smoothbore doesn’t have a rear sight. One has to get the check down on the stock and aim true. Any slight deviance of this and the shot can, easily, fly high, or low. Also, smoothbores are not a long range gun of accuracy. the barrel, as the name states, doesn’t have rifling grooves in the barrel to stabilize the lead ball. Accuracy is easily faltered by this at yardages of over forty yards. Whatever happened…I missed!

DSC_0004  I spent slightly more than two hours searching for any sign of a hit, or a downed deer. I concluded a miss.

October 21st found me out again. I saw fewer deer this morning. I spotted a deer in a spruce thicket. I lost sight quickly in the tangled tree tops and limbs. I still hunted along side, and spotted the doe in a deciduous woodlands that bordered the spruce growth. I shot and a deer moved down through the woods. I searched for over an hour with the same results as Monday’s hunt.  A miss! I always with thinking wonder if I did all I could do searching.

I hunted with my step father, Bob Miller on Thursday. We saw some deer. I almost shot a doe, but decided to not shoot for Bob’s benefit. We were home early for breakfast with my mother.

DSC_0003 Today was the day! early in the morning I heard a shot where Bob usually goes hunting. I had driven myself and parked along a road, and Bob was over on the other road. I didn’t know with certainty he would be hunting.

I found Bob in a field, and he quickly told me the story. We searched for over an hour, and found nothing. We spotted a deer walking through the dense crabapples; dogwoods and briars. We continued looking. Bob went one way as I headed towards the area where this deer had gone. I wanted to be sure this deer wasn’t hit by Bob’s shot. No blood!                                                                          DSC_0011

However, I looked up to see the deer moving out ahead of me at about thirty-five to forty yards. I identified it as a doe. The doe stopped. I had a small opening  to shoot through for the briars were thick. I held a tight aim and shot. I walked up and looked around. The doe was down at another forty yards. The shot had been true and humane.

DSC_0003 I used “Old Jacob” on this hunt. This is a style of flintlock rifle made in the 1780 era by Andrew Verner of Pennsylvania. It is a 50 caliber flinter. I have harvested a lot of deer with this firearm. Notice this gun is a rifle. This means the barrel has “rifling” in the barrel to stabilize the lead ball for better accuracy.

As I type this, Bob has returned to the woods to set a spell watching for deer!


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Monday, the 21st of October was a day with predicted warm temperatures. I elected to go out for a couple of hours to try to locate turkeys on the roost. The early muzzleloading season for deer is in, but I didn’t want to hunt deer due to the warming temps. (I butcher my own deer.) The other reason I chose not to hunt was due to an unexplainable pain in my left leg. I walked about one mile only that morning seeing some deer (I, also, saw a pie-bald deer.) and turkeys.                                                                             DSC_0073

Pie-bald deer

Pie-bald deer

Today, however, I decided to chase deer around for my step-father, Bob and scout for turkeys.  I was loaded for white-tails. I was armed with Jeremiah, my .62 caliber smoothbore. We bumped some turkeys from the roost while walking into the woods early. Bob posted and I walked about still in pain. Pain pills allowed this!

The irony of the morning was the hope  of not taking a deer. I didn’t wish to butcher at this time. This was my first day to hunt deer and, of course, the pain.      DSC_0006

Bob would see a couple of small-racked bucks during his time on watch. Later on in the morning hours I met up with Bob. I told him to watch a different area and I would sneak around and hopefully move some deer past him.

DSC_0011   I was sneaking around and could see a doe about 80 yards from me. I closed the gap to about 50 yards. I could see the deer and had a shot, but allowed the deer passage. I saw this same deer three more times in this brushy area, but it eventually went the opposite of Bob’s stand.

Bob-O-Lantern with my deer

Bob-O-Lantern with my deer

Bob and I were sneaking down a gas well road and saw another deer and later saw two more. I asked Bob if he was interested in climbing the hill. I figured we may be able to circle the two deer. The plan worked!

I spotted the two deer feeding along below us and gave Bob the shot. He missed. We spent about an hour  searching about just in case.

DSC_0018   I had Bob walk a gas well road and I went farther uphill and searched for the deer. I eventually spotted a deer in the crab apples. I called Bob via cell phone, but had to hang up quickly. I was going to try to move the deer to Bob. The deer turned and started walking towards me. The thirty yard shot was true.

I wasn’t trying to take a deer this day. I was just flowing through with my heritage I guess. I passed up four shots. The hunter mode kicked in and my first tag was filled. The shot was at noon.

DSC_0028  I saw turkeys, several grouse and lots of squirrels. I saw one red fox as well.

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     Bob and I walked up the hill in the pre-dawn grays. Recent rains had ceased but the cloud cover still darkened the sky. This changed as the sun came through around midmorning.

Bob, using a .44 magnum elected to watch a field until about 9:30 when he had to leave. He saw 5 deer. My smoothbore “Jeremiah” and I still hadn’t prioritized a desire to connect on a deer. Turkeys and photos were more important.

I listened for turkeys and was blessed to hear a Screech Owl and a Barred Owl too. Always enjoy their eerie wavering call. I had seen various deer by noon including two different buck. Around 11:00 I noticed a deer in the multiflora rose and autumn olive patches. I under estimated the range by, at least, twenty yards.  The deer was about 75 yards. I try to limit my shots with the smoothbore .62 caliber flintlock to 40 yards or less. Anyway, I missed! I spent an hour zigzagging around to ensure my hopes of a miss.      

Small buck at 5 yards

  I crossed a road where I saw other deer including a nicer white-racked buck and turkeys. However, the highlight of the day was while sneaking through a timbered area. I saw a black mass about 40 yards away and knew I was seeing a bear in its bed.  Shortly, the bear caught my scent and got up and soon began walking away. I couldn’t get a photo through the dense brush.

I was debating leaving for the day close to 5:00 was the time and I was tired and hungry. Within sight of my vehicle I could see a feeding deer. The stalk began. I passed up a couple of 50 yard shots waiting for a better one. The one deer became three. When I was about 40 yards from them a fourth deer spotted me and reacted. I hurried a shot from an uncomfortable position and after much searching realized a miss was indeed.                                                            


     I again, began heading towards the vehicle when a deer  stepped out in front of me. I cocked the hammer and lowered the gun. I was chancing this 50 yards shot the way the shooting was going for me this day. The deer back tracked and my exit continued.  Suddenly, that same deer was spotted about 35 yards away in the goldenrods. I instinctively raised and fired. the deer dropped immediately.

I had the deer home and skinned before 7:30. This deer will become steak and burger.

I saw the first juncos (commonly called the snowbirds) this day. Many robins were enjoying eating the grapes and dogwood berries.

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