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Posted By: RichardBrewster Hunting birds with a muzzleloader - 01/05/21 06:37 PM
Has anyone hunted birds with an old muzzleloading bird gun? If so, do you use bp, Pyrodex, Hodgdon 777, Blackhorn 209 or something else. It would be ideal to use a powder that allows for 10 or 20 shots without having to clean before the end of the hunting day. Is that realistic? I have been wondering which bp or bp alternative hunters find less corrosive, produce less fouling and are easiest to clean. Most of all I am interested in the combination of powder, cleaning products and lubricants that will not damage an old muzzleloading bird gun. Any ideas? I have been hunting birds a long time and am happy to slow down the pace to the time of Colonel Hawker if that is workable.
Posted By: BrentD Re: Hunting birds with a muzzleloader - 01/05/21 07:29 PM
Rich,
I do not use a muzzleloader for birds. Reloading is too slow.

But I do use blackpowder cartridges a lot. Maybe 50% for ducks and pheasants. I use both lead and Bismuth. I find no need to clean until the end of the day (and my fouling will be a lot worse than with a muzzleloader).

I use only Swiss or Goex real blackpowder. Never, ever Pyrodex, which has the most corrosive fouling that I've ever seen. Real bp will clean up very easily with just dihydrogen oxide (aka water). Regular lubes are perfect after everything is clean and dry. My guns have spotless bores after decades of this sort of use.


A friend of mine visited years ago to hunt pheasants with an old English single 4-bore muzzleloader. He was pretty organized and fast in his reloads. His ramrod doubled as a walking stick which made messing with it in the ferrules much simpler. He even knocked a turkey out of the sky with that thing, much to my dog's amazement and joy.
Posted By: ellenbr Re: Hunting birds with a muzzleloader - 01/05/21 08:21 PM
I have hunted most pretty much all fowl with a stuffer smoke pole. For me, getting the correct amount of shot was the most difficult. But I used Pyrodex as well as Black Powder and true Pyrodex is some kind of corrosive. If you use Black Powder, maybe both, you can keep a bottle of soapy water to douse with if you think it is warranted. Otherwise, just clean very well @ the end of the day's adventure. Shooting in fog as well as around water for Kansas Ditch Parrots or Waterfowl is most amusing. Uneducated folks would ask, what is that fella doing down there, burning Pine Knots??


The main task is to get the load to have a muzzle velocity between 1100 & 1200 fps.



Serbus,

Raimey
rse
Posted By: Flintfan Re: Hunting birds with a muzzleloader - 01/05/21 10:29 PM
Yes, I have used muzzleloaders for bird hunting on many occasions. Unless you are shooting driven game or on fast waterfowl or dove action (or hunting with extremely impatient partners) the loading time is a non-issue.

As already stated use real black powder unless it is absolutely impossible for you to find. My favorite woodcock, snipe, and partridge gun pictured below is a 17 ga. The load that I have found that works best in this gun, and others I own, is 2 1/2 drams (about 68 grains) of
FFg. One 1/8" nitro card, one 1/8" hard felt wad that I lube with bees wax and tallow. One thin over shot card on top of the lubed wad (to prevent shot from sticking to the lubed wad). 1 oz of shot. Lastly an overshot card.

I load the first three wads at the muzzle after pouring the powder, and ram all three down together with one motion. Then pour the shot, followed with the over shot card. With a little practice you should easily be able to load in 30-40 seconds.

You may find it beneficial to notch the edges of your overshot cards to prevent air pressure build up while ramming them down.


With this load the gun throws a very even cylinder pattern out to 25 yards.

Many shooters use a thick 1/2" lubed wad on top of the nitro card, but I have found in my guns the thinner 1/8" lubed wad patterns much better.

Even after shooting many dozens of shots in a session, the thought of cleaning doesn't even come into the equation until the day is done.

Posted By: Lorne Re: Hunting birds with a muzzleloader - 01/05/21 11:01 PM
I hunt birds with muzzleloaders, doubles, some original, some reproductions. My experience is right in line with Flintfan's post, point for point. Real black powder is important enough to bring it up a third time!

Once you get it through your head that your effective range is 25 yards, everything starts to work quite well. (At 25 yards, 1100 fps works great, 7 1/2 shot drops pheasant although I use 6's if I'm going for pheasant, an ounce of shot works fine and you don't develop a flinch.) Of course, there are days when everything goes up out of range, but I've been through that with modern guns.
Posted By: Stanton Hillis Re: Hunting birds with a muzzleloader - 01/05/21 11:48 PM
I've used vintage double muzzleloaders for doves, and wild quail occasionally, since about 1984. I have never shot a charge of any propellant but real black powder, and never will. On a decent dove shoot it is no problem to take a limit of 15 with one. I have no problem with the "slowness of reloading". If you can load fast enough to kill 15 doves you're loading fast enough, IMO. Also IMO, if you choose to limit yourself to using m/ls you should not be overly concerned with the time it takes to reload. It just goes with the program. So what if you miss out on a shot at a dove, quail or duck, because you have to spend more time reloading? If it was about numbers you wouldn't be shooting a m/l.

My usual load for doves or quail is 1 oz. of 7 1/2s or 8s over an equal volume of FFg black. There is no handicap using an original m/l double shotgun for doves, as long as you understand that you have no choke and you need to keep that range at about 25 yards or less, as mentioned by Lorne.

SRH
Posted By: BrentD Re: Hunting birds with a muzzleloader - 01/06/21 12:44 AM
As for speed, if you are hunting late season pheasants and get into the mother lode, as happened to me last Saturday, you may not be able to load a cartridge gun fast enough. And your dog will let you know.

Otherwise, I don't see blackpowder limiting at all. I certainly don't limit myself to shorter distances, though I have the advantage of chokes in a cartridge gun and use faster loads.
Posted By: bill schodlatz Re: Hunting birds with a muzzleloader - 01/06/21 01:39 AM
I used to use a muzzel loader for dove. Never had a problem with rust if I cleaned it right away with hot water. I did have a MAJOR problem when my wife caught me soaking the barrels in the bath tub!

bill
Posted By: LGF Re: Hunting birds with a muzzleloader - 01/06/21 02:53 AM
Gentlemen, what do you consider the maximum reasonable range for ducks using BP through a full choked fowler? I am shooting #4 bismuth.
Posted By: Stanton Hillis Re: Hunting birds with a muzzleloader - 01/06/21 03:04 AM
Whatever your pattern shows is reasonable. There is no pat answer that covers it. You must pattern to determine that.

I'm patterning a breechloader later this week with the new copper plated bismuth shells to determine just that. Without hard evidence, from patterning, the maximum effective range is just a guess.

SRH
Posted By: LGF Re: Hunting birds with a muzzleloader - 01/06/21 03:12 AM
I guess I am asking: assuming a decent pattern, at what range are the pellets still going fast enough to knock birds down if they start at a muzzle velocity of 1200 fps? Apologies if I am missing something obvious.
Posted By: BrentD Re: Hunting birds with a muzzleloader - 01/06/21 03:44 AM
I don't think velocity is the only limiting factor, but 40-45 yds for me. Bigger ducks closer to 40. If it's a ripping wind, closer yet. I don't like taking first shots at birds over 40 plus a little. If you are confident of your pattern and your shooting, then you are probably good to go.

The Boss shells have worked very well for me on pheasants, so far (#5s). But I have not patterned them. They seem to show less penetration than the Kents, and they should - given that the Kents are starting out about 75 fps faster. But that's just subjective estimation from cleaning birds. I did have on bird that popped out an unplated pellet. He did not show signs of a festering older wound, but that's probably the explanation.

I don't know what my bp loads are doing for velocity but I would guess that they are in the 1250 range.
Posted By: BrentD Re: Hunting birds with a muzzleloader - 01/06/21 03:46 AM
Flintfan, that is one beautiful gun. More photos and some description of it would be very welcome indeed. smile I could break my no-muzzleloader rule for something like that.
Posted By: Stanton Hillis Re: Hunting birds with a muzzleloader - 01/06/21 03:56 AM
I'll state my experience with #4 bismuth 1 1/4 oz. handloads at about 1200+ fps. I shoot them out of an overbored Fox with extremely tight chokes. I can kill a big mallard dishrag dead settling into the dekes at 50 yards pretty easily with that gun, sometimes a good but farther. Killed one a couple years ago going straight away at about 45 yards, and that is the hardest shot angle with which to anchor a duck. If you don't break a wing you have to drive the shot from his rear end all the way up into the vitals ..........tough job to do.

There's no reason a muzzleloader w/black won't kill just like a breechloader w/smokeless if the velocity, shot size and pattern density are the same. But, the devil is in the details.

SRH
Posted By: BrentD Re: Hunting birds with a muzzleloader - 01/06/21 04:06 AM
50 might be fine. I don't doubt that the Merkel would, if I let it. Possibly the Greener too, though I haven't patterned that gun that far. But I just don't do it. Lots of birds will end up dead, but some won't. That can happen at any distance, but more so the further out it is, of course.

I like a few more pellets so I generally opt for 5s.

One things is certain, the pellets will never know whether they were launched with black or smokeless, so it powder isn't the issue.
Many thanks for all of the responses on this. I really appreciate them and am getting more pumped up about using an ML. Reloading time is not a factor for me. I can hit or miss with any type of gun. Hunting all day and coming home with a pair of birds is a fine day for me.
Posted By: BrentD Re: Hunting birds with a muzzleloader - 01/06/21 01:48 PM
Originally Posted By: RichardBrewster
Many thanks for all of the responses on this. I really appreciate them and am getting more pumped up about using an ML. Reloading time is not a factor for me. I can hit or miss with any type of gun. Hunting all day and coming home with a pair of birds is a fine day for me.


Well good luck with it. It's all fun, and smoke just makes it that much better. Some picts of your gun would be great (with some birds too).

BTW, does anyone here worry about starting grass fires with black powder? If the conditions are particularly hot, dry, and windy, I try to avoid blackpowder for that reason. I've seen a few smoldering fiber wads and I would hate to burn down my hunting cover.
Posted By: LGF Re: Hunting birds with a muzzleloader - 01/06/21 06:10 PM
Brent and Stan - thanks for the clarification, very encouraging. I seem to recall Greener claiming kills at something like 80 yards for his Far Killing Duck gun, so I figured half that might be realistic.

Brent, I shoot BP at a friend's skeet range, but never in summer when the long grass and chaparral are dry.
Posted By: BrentD Re: Hunting birds with a muzzleloader - 01/06/21 06:54 PM
LGF,
I have started multiple fires with my .45 target rifles. They don't use the fiber wads the look like good tinder, but they are shot from prone. I don't really know the risk of shotgunning, but I don't want to be the guy that turns a neighboring cornfield into snowdrifts of popcorn, or worse.
Posted By: Lloyd3 Re: Hunting birds with a muzzleloader - 01/06/21 06:58 PM
A very timely post. I was quizzed by a younger hunter I know about this subject just pre-Christmas. I told him that I had always been curious but had never done the homework on the subject. He was looking at a Pedersoli Classic SXS in 12 for geese.
Posted By: Argo44 Re: Hunting birds with a muzzleloader - 01/07/21 02:44 AM
About a year ago when I started seriously shooting at clay's with an 1847 Reilly 16 bore muzzle loader, we discussed a problem with a ramrod on this line:
https://doublegunshop.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=559876

Stan recommended a home-made ramrod with a doorknob....perfect for sitting on a dove field:
His image:


My Copy - still my go-to ramrod to this day, flange nut and all:
Posted By: Lorne Re: Hunting birds with a muzzleloader - 01/07/21 04:41 AM
Stan, the flame front of Black Powder is sub sonic, while modern propellants (in the chamber) are supersonic. Modern powders are almost entirely consumed before the shot leaves the cartridge. With black powder the lad has moved before burning is complete, so it is much harder to impossible to get the same acceleration with black powder.

Fortunately for BP shooters, the difference between velocities at say 25 yards of 1300 fps and 1150 fps shells is somewhere in the vicinity of 50 fps, so it's less important than it appears on the box top.
Posted By: Stanton Hillis Re: Hunting birds with a muzzleloader - 01/07/21 12:56 PM
It's also a non-issue for me, Lorne, because I actually prefer loads around 1200 fps - 1150 fps for most everything. I am as happy as somebody with good sense when I've got loads in the 1175 range.

I can't remember what the velocity is on the 1 oz. equal volume load I use in my 16 ga. m/loader, but wouldn't be surprised if it isn't under 1100.


SRH
Posted By: Stallones Re: Hunting birds with a muzzleloader - 01/08/21 06:46 PM
i HAVE HUNTED DOVE, QUAIL AND PHEASANT WITH A 12 GA DOUBLE MUZZLELOADER. ALWAYS BLACK POWDER AND LOTS OF FUN.
Posted By: ed good Re: Hunting birds with a muzzleloader - 01/09/21 05:13 PM
argo: i like your shooting box...

and making an improved loading rod utilizing an old door knob is creative genius!
Posted By: Hal Re: Hunting birds with a muzzleloader - 01/10/21 03:04 AM
In the boat I used to just leave the original rod at home and use a 5/8" birch dowel for my 10-bore. Then except for the shot bag, the capper, wads, and vials of powder were in the pockets of my parka. Saved a bit of time not having to thread the rod through the thimbles each time I needed a reload. I really miss those days!
Posted By: Argo44 Re: Hunting birds with a muzzleloader - 01/10/21 05:35 AM
Ed, that's Stan's box....mine are a lot simpler (Stan is the pro - I'm the third choice in a 5 man-pick-up YMCA basketball squad) - basically I use former plastic M&M cylinder for the patches ....and again I copied Stan's original door knob concept...I still had an old brass door knob in the parts' box.
Posted By: dave michno Re: Hunting birds with a muzzleloader - 01/10/21 02:19 PM
Very interesting Thread. I have hunted with a 28-bore muzzle loader a number of trips mostly over released birds. Complaint from hunting partners is that my hunting with this is far to slow for their liking. Always the same reply from me " It is not how many but how". Very enjoyable for me and I have never felt under gunned. I might add that one of my favorite deer seasons is with a flintlock in PA. Kudos to those that also enjoy the hunt with ML's.
Dave
Posted By: Hal Re: Hunting birds with a muzzleloader - 01/11/21 02:25 AM
under gunned reminds me of my old pet peeve. I wish the US Fish & Wildlife Service would bend a bit to tradition and not be so oriented towards law enforcement. They should allow ORIGINAL shotguns using black powder to be used on waterfowl even if the guns are larger than 10-bore. And especially for species like Snow Geese where the goal is to reduce populations. Now its legal to shoot pumps and autoloaders that hold three rounds of with 3 1/2" 10ga, but your single or double 8 ga will be confiscated if you shoot one shot with a load of non-toxic shot or are even caught with the gun while hunting any migratory game birds.
Posted By: Geo. Newbern Re: Hunting birds with a muzzleloader - 01/11/21 02:54 PM
I agree with you Hal, but they are not going to crack that door...Geo
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