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Joined: Oct 2006
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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.


Rich
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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.


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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.



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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.



“I left long before daylight, alone but not lonely.”~Gordon Macquarrie
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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.

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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


"With one foot in the grave ..........and one foot on the pedal, I was born a Rebel" T.P.
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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.


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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

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Gentlemen, what do you consider the maximum reasonable range for ducks using BP through a full choked fowler? I am shooting #4 bismuth.

Last edited by LGF; 01/05/21 10:57 PM.
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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


"With one foot in the grave ..........and one foot on the pedal, I was born a Rebel" T.P.
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