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Muzzleloader Hunting Deer

Late Season Muzzleloader Hunting
I’ve been a deer outfitter in Pike County Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas for nearly 13 years. Each year I watch hunters scramble to book the rut firearms hunts in the Midwest as well as the rut bow hunts. No doubt that rut bow hunts and rut gun hunts deliver high success rates, however a whitetail deer hunt often overlooked by whitetail deer hunters is the muzzleloader hunt. There are many advantages muzzleloader hunting offers which other times of the year do not.
Success Rates of Muzzleloader Hunting for Deer
As a deer outfitter in Iowa, last year I only had six hunters that booked a late season muzzleloader hunt. Of the six muzzleloader hunters, three of them went home with a deer over 150 inches and two of them went home with whitetail deer over 170 inches. Only one hunter was unsuccessful in harvest. In fact one night during one of the hunters Iowa deer hunt the hunter viewed 44 bucks enter our food plot. In fact our success rates for muzzleloader hunting over five states in the Midwest since 2003 show the success rate at getting a shot at a record book whitetail buck with IMB Outfitters is 90.1%. Astounding muzzleloader hunting is what we offer here at IMB Outfitters.
Individual success rates in the States we outfit deer hunts for muzzleloader hunting are as follows since 2003 with IMB Outfitters:
Muzzleloader deer hunts in Pike County Illinois 77%
Muzzleloader deer hunts in Iowa 83%
Muzzleloader deer hunts in Missouri 90%
Muzzleloader deer hunts in Nebraska 103%
Muzzleloader deer hunts in Kansas unhunted

Advantages of Muzzleloader Deer Hunts
Muzzleloader deer hunts in the Midwest pose several advantages other whitetail hunts do not. During this time period on Iowa deer hunts, Missouri deer hunts, Pike County Illinois deer hunts, and Nebraska deer hunts one must remember these hunts take place in December. December brings about cold weather which produces distinct advantages to the whitetail deer hunter.
A lack of food sources for whitetail deer exist at that time. Here at IMB Outfitters we plant plush food plots which the herd relies on to avoid starvation. The advantage this presents is that the whitetail deer in our area are forced to come to feed on our food plots or starve. Especially on evening hunts our muzzleloader hunters often times see dozens of whitetail deer enter the food plots at one time. Therefore a muzzleloader hunt can produce huge numbers of whitetail deer sighting on evening hunts especially. As long as weather permits our whitetail hunters can count on seeing large numbers of whitetail deer on muzzleloader hunts in the Midwest.
Another distinct advantage to muzzleloader hunting in December in the Midwest is the very fact that the smartest and biggest bucks usually avoid being harvested during the regular season as they find the best places to hide, or go nocturnal. During late season they must come out of hiding to feed on the food plots or face starvation. It can literally be a time when monster bucks are forced to hit food sources during shooting hours when other times they do not. Some of our biggest deer have been harvested on muzzleloader hunts in Iowa, Missouri, Pike County Illinois, and Missouri.
Although sometimes cold the muzzleloader hunting in the morning normally takes place in our densest thickets and best bed areas. At this time of year the whitetail deer bed up together to stay warm. Thus if your positioned in one of these areas while muzzleloader hunting in the Midwest with IMB Outfitters you are once again likely to see large numbers of whitetails. Muzzleloader hunting can be somewhat “chilly” but can produce high numbers of deer sightings and the biggest bucks in the area.
One of the biggest advantages to muzzleloader hunting is the low number of whitetail hunters in camp. IMB Outfitters has over 60,000 acres. Literally in 2008 we took less than 20 hunters for muzzleloader hunting across 5 states. Sometimes your group will be the only ones in camp at that time as other hunters have focused on the rut or more popular hunts. Anytime you’ve got the whole place to yourself you have a distinct advantage as long as your deer outfitter has done his homework.
Muzzleloader hunts are always cheaper because it’s a hunt most whitetail hunters don’t select so you can save a few dollars.

Midwest Muzzleloader Hunt Dates
Normally the muzzleloader hunting takes place about the same time each year give or take a day. Here are the 2009 and the 2010 muzzleloader hunting dates:
Muzzleloader deer hunts in Pike County Illinois 12-11 to 12-13 (3 days only as mandated by the State of Illinois)
Muzzleloader deer hunts in Iowa 12-27 to 1-10
Muzzleloader deer hunts in Missouri 12-19 to 12-29
Muzzleloader deer hunts in Nebraska 12-1 to 12-31

Muzzleloader deer hunts in Pike County Illinois 12-10 to 12-12 (3 days only as mandated by the State of Illinois)
Muzzleloader deer hunts in Iowa 12-27 to 1-10
Muzzleloader deer hunts in Missouri 12-19 to 12-29
Muzzleloader deer hunts in Nebraska 12-1 to 12-31
History of Muzzleloader Hunting
The muzzleloader originated somewhere between 1825 and 1835. When most young folks think about muzzleloaders they often think about the Western pioneers from long ago, or at least I always did. The Davy Crocketts and Daniel Boones from long ago were famous for their old Kentucky long rifles that bellowed smoke from the front of barrel like an old locomotive.
Those frontloading rifles were the only tools for survival that the great mountain men had other than a Bowie knife. To be quite honest, some of those old side-hammer muzzleloaders were not much more dependable than a good sharp knife. These guns were loaded from the front with loose powder, a patch and round ball, and fowl weather played a big role in whether or not they fired when the trigger was pulled.
Since pre-Colonial times, flintlocks, and since the late 1830s, external-hammered percussion muzzleloaders, were the rule for taking deer and other big game. Then, their slower ignition time became the focus of in-line advertising in an attempt to convince new hunters that there was a better way.
What Muzzleloader Should The Whitetail Hunter Purchase
I’m gonna say this one time. Thompson Center is by far the best muzzleloader in the industry. Thompson Center offers a variety of products and information about their products and are currently leading all other manufacturers across the Nation. A muzzleloader is not a weapon you want to give little thought to prior to purchase.
The Advantage of Muzzleloader Hunting with Thompson Center
There are so many reasons to choose the Thompson Center Muzzleloader I’m about to enter into a bit of data that may be a bit redundant, but as a whitetail hunter speaking to whitetail hunters, “How many reasons do you need? Here are many before we get into my favorite Thompson Center Muzzleloaders.”
Thompson/Center sets the standard for development and innovative thinking in the hunting firearms industry. Employing a professional staff of hunters, engineers, and craftsmen, T/C gathers essential design feedback from the field, the lab, and the factory. T/C’s engineers and gunsmiths then process all the information and data into new and practical features that real world hunters benefit from every day.
T/C’s technology department set out to design an advanced, tough-as-nails, corrosion protection system. This system, when applied to the barrel and other critical metal parts, makes the gun nearly impervious to rust. Environmental testing proves Weather Shield is 50x more corrosion resistant than Stainless Steel alone. Available on various Icon™, Triumph™ and Omega Z-5’s, T/C’s Weather Shield will help users protect their investment, because hunters never know where their next hunting adventure will take them.
Weather Shield is 50x more corrosion resistant than Stainless Steel (SS) alone. – Independent Environmental Testing Proves It. Available on various Icon™, Triumph™ and Omega Z-5’s
The Interlok™ bedding block provides a stable and rigid platform for securing the barreled action into any T/C stock.
INTEGRA-BASE™ is a solid top receiver with integral Weaver® style bases which provide an unparalleled mounting platform.
A two stage safety that allows the shooter to load and unload his rifle with the safety on.

•Independent bolt lock secures the bolt from opening during field use.

•Bolt lock is automatically disengaged when the safety is removed.
The SWITCH BOLT™ removable bolt handle provides the option of interchanging handles with custom shop options.
S&K ULTRA WOOD™ Walnut stocks (patent pending) have a high grade wood and carbon fiber construction, yielding a wooden gunstock that is unmatched in looks and performance.

Ultra Walnut gunstock blanks consist of three pieces of hand-selected walnut laminated together with two sheets of carbon fiber.
Like the Speed Breech™, the XT™ reduces fouling by 95%, needs no cleaning, never seizes, and now it can be removed by hand. No tools, no mess, 90° and out... Available on T/C’s Triumph, and the latest addition to the Encore line, the new Encore Endeavor™.
A rubber coil of arcs, that when placed at a precise location in the stock achieves the maximum amount of shock absorption possible, more than any stock innovation on the market today.
T/C teamed up with Sims™, known for their recoil reduction technology, to develop a process that absorbs shock and vibration. The result is the Flex Tech™ recoil reduction system.

•Reduces felt recoil by 43%

•Absorbs harmful recoil and vibration that punishes the shooter and damages or loosens scopes.

4 synthetic recoil arches create a crush zone that allows the stock to compress during the recoil process. The limb saver recoil pad has dual compression chambers that displace the shock over a broad spectrum. All of this is built in to the stock of the gun to give you, the shooter, better performance and comfort in the field.
A rotating hammer design currently available on the Encore Endeavor™ and Pro Hunter™. It’s an adjustable hammer that can be off set to allow easy access to the hammer spur when the rifle is scoped, and can be keyed to allow the spur to be placed in the center, left or right hand positions.
Currently available on the Encore Pro Hunter™, the Speed Breech is a breech plug that can be removed with only a quarter turn. Snap on the wrench, turn 90 degrees and pull it out. It’s that fast and easy. No cleaning needed, and 95% of the fouling is eliminated thanks to 3 gas compression rings similar to those found on a piston in a gas engine. The Speed Breech does not get seized like other breech designs due to its unique opposing series of locking lugs which are similar to those found on a Howitzer cannon. It’s practical innovations like this that help to take the work
T/C’s Power Rod is a patented pivoting handle that is integrated with a solid aluminum ramrod. With a convenient low profile T-handle, loading your muzzleloader is quicker and less painful than ever. The Power Rod™ comes standard on the Encore Endeavor™ and Pro Hunter™ and is also available as a T/C Authentic Accessory.
Quick Load Accurizor (QLA™), is yet another T/C technology that is standard on all T/C muzzleloaders. QLA™ makes loading simple and fast. Unlike other muzzleloaders, QLA allows the hunter or shooter to quickly and easily load their muzzleloader by incorporating a false muzzle design into the end of the barrel. In the midst of the hunt T/C technology’s QLA can help save you precious time when loading that second shot .
A convenient feature that allows the primer extractor to be tipped out of the way by hand for easy removal of the breech plug. It comes standard on the Encore Endeavor™ and Pro Hunter™ and is a T/C authentic accessory available for all Encore muzzleloaders.
Thompson Center Muzzleloaders
After 13 years of being a deer outfitter in 5 States in the Midwest, I’ve seen about every muzzleloader sold to man. Here are your finest choices. Settle for nothing less.

Thompson Center Venture Muzzleloader
Thompson/Center introduces the New T/C Venture, the most value-packed bolt action rifle available on the market today. Designed to deliver top end quality and accuracy at an entry level price, the Thompson/Center Venture offers a 5R rifled match grade barrel and match grade crown, adjustable precision trigger and a classic style composite stock that puts it in a class all its own. A rugged, reliable tool for the outdoorsman, the T/C Venture features T/C’s renowned innovation, craftsmanship and cutting edge barrel technology. Guaranteed to deliver Minute of angle accuracy... 1 inch groups at 100 yards.
T/C Venture features a classic sporter style stock in rugged composite material with traction grip panels, the T/C Venture has a sophisticated appearance with the durability and accuracy to back it up. Thompson/Center’s Venture... made in the USA and backed by the famous Thompson/Center Lifetime Warranty... It delivers the finest in accuracy, reliability and quality craftsmanship in an attractive, affordable package.

Thompson Center Icon Muzzleloader
At the top of T/C’s bolt action line is the impressive ICON® family. Every ICON® utilizes T/C’s “Foundation for Accuracy” and delivers certified MOA accuracy before it leaves the factory. What does it mean for you? Purchasing a Thompson/Center ICON® rifle means you are buying a rifle that already delivers three shots in an inch at 100 yards. Every ICON® earns this distinction or better before it leaves our facility.
ICON’s superior accuracy starts with our technologies, specifically the Interlock Bedding System, Integra Base and T/C’s superior barrel technology with 5R® rifling. These features, along with our superior craftsmanship and attention to detail, make every ICON the best choice for your next hunt.
T/C crafts each ICON® to suit the most demanding hunters. The ICON® bolt action family includes the ICON Classic a perfect choice for game on any continent, the ICON® Precision Hunter™ a from the bench and in the field- Precision is what it delivers, the ICON® Weather Shield® - takes on the elements with T/C’s tough Weather Shield® protective coating, the ICON® Warlord™, superior accuracy at 1000 yards is what this warrior is about!

Thompson Center Encore Muzzleloader
It’s no secret that the Encore® is the most technologically advanced muzzleloader ever created. Now, with the addition of interchangeable barrels in 95 calibers, it’s also the most technologically advanced shooting system ever conceived. We designed it around the Encore’s universal frame, long trusted by hunting professionals. Utilizing the break open design, within minutes, easily change between centerfire, muzzleloading and shotgun configurations. Whatever your game preference. Whatever the season. Imagine a gun you can take with you...year round. Accurate. Reliable. And versatile. The Encore® truly is a gun for all seasons.

Thompson Center Triumph Muzzleloader
The new addition to the Triumph® Magnum Muzzleloader family is the T/C Triumph Bone Collector™, the signature gun from T/C Pro Michael Waddell who helped design this revolutionary firearm. A one of a kind, exclusive gun that has all the great features of the Triumph but improves upon them by adding Flex Tech™ technology and Energy Burners to a shorter stock (approx. 1"). Also, added is T/C's premium fluted barrel with Weather Shield™ and T/C's patented Power Rod™.
This .50 caliber powerhouse is available with a composite stock in dark gray/Weather Shield or in Realtree AP™ camo/ Weather Shield. The Triumph Bone Collector™ is the most performance driven and innovative magnum muzzleloader on the market today. Wherever your adventures may take you, the Triumph Bone Collector™ will be there to help you take your next trophy.

Thompson Center G2 Contender Muzzleloader
SINCE THE FIRST CONTENDER pistol was made in 1967, the Contender® has been the choice of serious handgun hunters throughout the world. The reputation this pistol has achieved in terms of its versatility, “minute of angle” accuracy and proven long range performance is unquestioned. When demanding hunters and IHMSA target shooters wanted a handgun that would perform, they chose the Contender. Now, 35 years later, the second generation Contender Pistol emerges and it only got better.
MAINTAINING THE SAME barrel interchangeability, the same time-proven long range accuracy, and the same adaptability of converting to rim fire or center fire, the new G2 Contender® has added some features which make it even more user friendly in the field. In addition, the grip, frame, and forend have been profiled and sculpted for a more modern and streamlined appearance. Size and weight remained approximately the same, adding less than 1/10th of a pound to the frame assembly.
THE VERSATILITY OF THE G2 Contender® is unmatched by any other handgun in the world. From plinking and small game hunting with rimfire cartridges, to varmint and big game hunting with centerfire rifle cartridges, the G2 Contender will continue to be the handgun of choice for those that pride themselves in wanting only the best.

Thompson Center Omega Muzzleloader
Its sleek profile and its “sealed pivoting breech” lever action design make this muzzleloader one of the simplest on the market…Simple to operate; Simple to clean.
The Omega’s unique action operates by using the forward motion of the trigger guard lever to pivot the breech block downward, allowing easy access to the 209 primer pocket. Once primed, the lever is pulled rearward, raising the breech block and sealing the breech. This closed breech design seals the 209 primer away from rain, snow or sleet.
Once the Omega™ has been loaded and primed, firing the rifle is accomplished by merely cocking the hammer and pulling the trigger. The patented hammer and trigger mechanism permits the hammer to make contact with the firing pin only when the trigger is pulled fully rearward. Like all hammer guns, getting the Omega™ into action is fast!
Cleaning the Omega™ is as simple as it gets. Pivot the breech block down; unscrew the breech plug; clean. No further disassembly is necessary. No bolt to remove, no barrel to remove and the stock can be left on.
The Omega™ is a closed breech muzzleloader, which protects the 209 primer from foul weather. Its sealed breech plug is specifically designed to avoid the problem of crushing Pyrodex® Pellets, which could cause a misfire.
The Omega™ can handle 150 grains of Black Powder or Pyrodex equivalent, or three 50 grain Pyrodex® pellets. With its 28" barrel, it burns magnum charges with maximum efficiency, producing higher velocities over standard length barrels. This translates into flatter trajectories and increased down range energy.

Darrin Bradley

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