By: Bob Weller.
With muzzleloader season right around the corner, I am reminded of one of my favorite hunting success stories. Many years ago, I had spent a month of Sundays late August into early September driving over to my buddies place with a trailer, loaded with a garden tractor towing a small wagon full of tools and a generator. We were building my first box blind and we were building it on site in a small section of hardwoods on my friend Andy’s Uncle’s property. Andy and I had been hunting together for several years and we were finally building ourselves some box blinds to hunt out of for a little added comfort on those days that were, shall we say, less than desirable to be up in a tree.
We finished the blind before bow season and I was able to take a 6 point that October from a climber tree stand that I was using only 25 yards or so from where the blind was situated. So I felt the blind was in a good spot and was excited to see what I might get a crack at during gun season that year. Opening day came and went with only the sighting of a single button buck. In fact the entire gun season went by and I never saw another deer from the blind. It had been a very rainy fall and I was glad to have protection from the elements but I had hoped to have seen more than just a little button buck from my new blind. Of course a wet and rainy harvest season makes it hard for farmers to get their crops out and that means standing corn and lots of it. It was pretty easy to convince myself that the lack of deer sightings from my new blind were due
to the additional cover that all the corn provided. As it was, my blind was actually located just 25 yards from a field and in that field was, well, you probably guessed it, corn. Lots and lots of corn. Its food and cover all rolled into one and the deer haven’t much of a reason to want to leave it.
Gun season had passed and I still had a buck tag and a doe tag in my pocket that I was eager to fill. Hoping for a different result, I took to the woods with my Thompson Center Omega Muzzleloader. It was cold and I had become quite fond of my new blind so even
though gun season was slow and the corn was still standing, I decided to give the blind another chance. It was the last weekend of the Muzzleloader season in Michigan so Andy and I had agreed to hit the woods once more in hopes one or both of us might get lucky. I got up early and made the 30 minute drive to meet Andy. But when I arrived Andy wasn’t there. I waited 10 or 15 minutes and thought “I’ve got to get back in those woods or it’s gonna get light on me”. So, I headed back without him and got to my blind before the sun came up. As the darkness faded, I started to see the silhouettes of deer on the property to the North. There were deer running around all over the place in an empty pasture that I could see from my blind. Even though the deer I saw were several hundred yards away, I couldn’t help but feel hopeful that it might be the day. As it got to be more and more light outside, I continued to watch deer movement and kept hoping some of them might eventually decide to come and pay me a visit in the woods. Andy finally arrived and called me on the radio to let me know he was heading back. I told him “you better double-time it because the deer are definitely on the move.” Andy made it back to the woods and into his blind without bumping any deer. We were chatting on the radio about the deer we could see when I turned my head and saw a group of 4 deer had just popped into the woods right in front of me. There were now 4 doe standing 40 yards from me and I was holding a radio not my gun. I was in the middle of a sentence when I told Andy “ OH DUDE, I’ve got some deer coming, I gotta go!” Carefully and quietly I set the radio down and reached for my muzzleloader. The deer did not seem aware of my presence so I slowly stuck the barrel of the Omega out the window and leveled off for the shot. I eased the hammer back into the cocked position without alerting the deer, then I lined up on the biggest doe and touched the trigger. I had finally taken a shot from my new blind!
As the smoke cleared, I could see the doe on the ground about 20 yards to the right of where she was standing when I touched off my Muzzleloader. Two other doe were standing there just looking at her. Pleased with myself and what I had accomplished, I looked back to where the doe had been standing when I shot and to my surprise there stood a nice 8 point buck. He must have popped into the woods just as I fired. He was literally standing in the same spot the doe had stood when I fired. Now folks let me tell you, I had built my blind with a high enough ceiling to reload a muzzleloader inside of it. I had not however in my wildest dreams imagined I would ever reload my muzzleloader as fast as I did that morning. I swiftly poured the powder charge in and rammed the projectile but then fumbled for what felt like an eternity trying to remove the 209 primer and put in a new one. The Omega for anyone that hasn’t seen one, has a falling breech block design and it is a little awkward to get the primer in and out, especially with cold fingers. Still, I managed to get the firearm ready to take another shot. But when I looked back out the window I saw the buck was moving and he was walking with that stiff legged stomp that they get when deer know something is out of place. I thought “oh no, he’s gonna spook and I’ve got to act fast”. Just as I raised the Omega and stuck it out the window again, the 2 doe that were standing next to their recently deceased traveling companion decided they were not hanging around to find out what happened next. They took off on a dead run heading Northwest towards the corner of the woods and they took the 8 point with them. I quickly found a hole in the brush that I felt confident I could get a shot through. I set my crosshairs on the center of the opening and waited. I saw one deer pass through the scope, then a second. Upon the first glimpse of the third deer entering my scope, I touched off another shot and everything vanished behind a cloud of smoke again. “Had I done it? Had I hit him?” I grabbed my Radio and said “dude, holy crap!” Andy replied “How many deer did you shoot?” I replied “I’m pretty sure I shot two, the first was a doe and the second was a buck”. I went on to tell him the story of how quickly I was able to reload and get off that second shot and how fast it had all happened. I told him to stay where he was and that I was going to go have a look around to see if I had hit the buck. I walked over to the brush pile and worked my way around it. I quickly found fresh tracks in the snow where they had run through and it didn’t take long to see the brown hair perfectly in line with my blind. “Surely” I thought, this must be from my buck. But, no blood. Not even a drop. I looked and looked but nothing. Just hair. So I figured, maybe if I followed the tracks, I might see some better signs. Sure enough, after only 20 or 30 yards I found it, a nice red trail through the bright white snow. I had done it! I got him! I got on the radio and told Andy that I had been successful in hitting the buck but I was going to wait until he was with me before going after the animal. Andy headed my way and within a few minutes we were on the track. The blood trail was easy to follow and we were discussing as we followed the trail how we figured the deer probably headed back into the standing corn. Just then Andy said “wait a minute, is that a rock
or a deer laying just up there on the edge of the field?” We both looked closely and agreed that it must be the buck. We carefully approached the deer and were both excited to find it was indeed the 8 point. He had expired within 100 yards of where I shot him. Success! I had finally gotten to shoot a deer from my new blind. Not only one deer but two of them in the same hunt just seconds apart and with a muzzleloader! I couldn’t have been any more proud of myself than I was at that moment.
I had heard guys tell stories of how they had reloaded and shot multiple deer with their muzzleloader but I never figured I would be the guy telling one of those stories. It just goes to show you, I guess you never know until the opportunity presents itself. I never shot another deer from that blind in those woods. Unfortunately Andy’s family dynamics changed and I was no longer allowed to hunt the property with him. I was pleased to hear only a few years later that Andy’s son, Alex got his first deer ever from that blind and with my 20 gauge that I had loaned to him. A storm and high winds eventually took a tree down that landed on the blind putting a larger hole in the roof. Several years later, I got a new hunting partner with property to hunt on and I reclaimed the blind. I shortened it and put a new roof on it, then moved it to what I hope will be its final resting place. It now looks over an opening grown over with duck grass and I have successfully taken multiple deer from it. Even got one with a crossbow one year. This year I sat in it with my 17 year old son who shot an 8 point from it (his second deer ever) on opening day of firearm season. I look forward to making many more hunting memories in the blind, but I will always remember the first season I spent in it and my 2 for 1 Muzzleloader success.
If you aren’t having much luck this gun season, don’t be afraid to grab the ole’ muzzleloader and give it a try. You never know when you might get a chance to fill that tag. With a little luck, you might even fill two. Good luck, be safe and go make some