By Ben Carter
The 2008 Utah General season Muzzleloader hunt was a brand new experience to me. It was actually pretty new for our whole group. I didn’t even own a muzzleloader at the time.
I met up with my brother and our friend Thursday night. They had been hunting since Wednesday when the season had opened. We had scouted the area extensively during the bow season and had seen some nice bucks.
First light Friday morning found my brother and I set up in a tongue of trees that we had seen the deer using very frequently for cover while moving to a bedding area. Our friend was watching a different high-traffic area.
We were watching the basin below us as it illuminated into view, trying to find the animals that we knew would be there. Suddenly I froze. I whispered “there is something behind us.” My brother looked past me and saw the bucks. I dropped to the ground so he could shoot over me as the deer started to run. I could see 4 long tines silhouetted against the sky above us. “he is good, take him” I said. At that moment my face was full of smoke and my ears were ringing. The buck gave a hit-kick and took off down into the basin below us. There were a couple other bucks in the group so my brother reloaded and I ran up to see if they were still around. I found them 300 yard and moving away around the basin rim. I ran back to my brother so we would go find his deer. We jumped him again and finished him off down in the bottom of the basin. It was quite a grunt to pack him all the way up out of that basin and then back to camp.
Now I had a Gun. That night we saw some deer but nothing that we felt like pursuing. The next morning was Saturday, and we knew there would be more people. My brother and our friend went to where we had killed the buck the morning before, and I went to the other side of the mountain to watch two other basins where we had seen deer. As soon as I got on top I could see hunters coming from every direction. I turned back and headed to where I could radio my friend and brother and let them know that we had company. As I was moving under the rim of the basin I suddenly spotted 2 bucks staring at me through the trees. They were out of range for my weapon so I put some trees between us and tried to close the distance. I could tell they wanted to come into the trees that I was occupying and that was causing them to freeze up. I found an opening and I could see a buck looking into my location. All I could tell was that he was pretty wide and about 90 yards away. I lowered the hammer on him in flash of powder smoke and fire. Because my shooting window was so small I couldn’t tell if he was down or hit or anything. I climbed to the spot he had been and tried to guess the path he had taken around the shale face. I found him dead about 150 yards later.
What a thrill. I had made my first harvest with a muzzleloader. One shot, one kill. I radioed my brother and told him to come see if they could see where the other deer that were with him had gone over the top. They weren’t able to get on them, but 2 out of 3 ain’t bad. I am forever hooked on “smoke poles” now. This year I have my own, and I am excited for another great hunt.