I had one lone goal in the 2014 season and that was to finally get a harvest on video. I had been trying for 3 years prior and just was not able to seal the deal so to speak even though I kept getting closer and closer (I actually videoed Paul from the tree while he sneaked up on and shot a button buck we had come in and lay down, but it just looks like he is shooting at the ground in it). But that all changed in a matter of 2 hours, if that, into my first hunt last year. Watch it for yourself and I hope you enjoy!
A Season of Missed Opportunities - A Story About Disappearing and Taking Care of Others' Unfinished Business
As November continued on, the "fun" was just beginning to for me. The weekend after my small unloaded gun failure, Paul and I found ourselves perched 25-feet up a pine tree on section of Alcoa gamelands in Rowan County, NC. Muzzleloaders in hand and me running the camera as well, we sat that still morning hearing duck hunters break the silence as daylight slowly crept over the trees. The occasional muzzleloader shot rang out as well, putting that feeling that "it could happen any time now" in us. And it did, just as heavy fog rolled in.
Cory and I decided to hunt Butner game lands with two other buddies of ours for the opening day of the Eastern NC Muzzleloader season. We had about an hour drive from my place in Burlington, NC to Falls Lake so we left the apartment around 4:30 a.m. and planned to meet up with the other guys around 5:45 to start heading into our spots. It was a cool morning in the upper 40's to low 50's. The cooler temperature had me excited for a couple of reasons: first, I would hopefully not be covered in sweat after the walk in to our stand location and, second, I had high hopes that it would have the deer up and moving around in the morning.
Now that it is the off season, and I had a full season to try out Hornady's new SST-ML Low Drag sabots, I wanted to share the results with our readers. If you are anything like me, once the off season starts I begin to correct any issues I may have had the previous year. If you had problems or were not impressed with your current sabot for your inline muzzleloader then I'd highly recommend using these. I've been hunting with a CVA Accura .50-cal for the past few years and started out by using the CVA slick load 300-grain sabots. Although these CVA sabots loaded easily and grouped nicely at 100 yards, I was not impressed with their performance on game. There were two deer shot with these sabots and neither had an exit wound. Having only an entry wound can make tracking a hit animal difficult, especially in the South where we rarely have the pleasure of tracking in the snow!
After seeing the Hornady sabots in the local sporting goods store one afternoon I went home and did some research. I found that others were really impressed with these new bullets so I went back the next day and picked up two boxes of them. Then came a trip to the range the following weekend. I was happy with their performance on paper as only minor adjustments were needed to get them grouping literally on top of each other. I also had the pleasure of taking three deer this past season with these bullets and with the results I won't be changing for sometime now! Every one of the shots resulted in a pass through and the lethality was exceptional as each of these animals dropped within 50 yards or less of where they were shot. I was shooting the 300-grain sabots and had my rifle zeroed at 100 yards as most of my shots are within that range. If you look at the ballistics for this bullet they are very impressive. Hornady recommends to zero them 3 inches high at 100 yards, making your shot at 200 yards be 3 inches low. That's a 6-inch spread from 0 to 200 yards...not bad if you ask me for a muzzleloader! I plan to get back to the range and do as suggested by Hornady so I can be more comfortable with a longer shot this coming year if one presents itself to me. If you want to take a look at the ballistics for yourself you can find them here.
Below are our hunting season reviews. First up is Paul's end of season recap followed by Cory's storytelling of the late season, enjoy!
Prepared for battle!
I set off October 11th for Raleigh to hunt the NC Eastern Zone with my muzzleloader. I got a taste of it when I hunted the morning of the 9th in the Western Zone up at South Mountains Gamelands in Rutherford County and was ready to get to a more familiar place with a better deer population. I had made up my mind the night before that I would hunt where I shot a 9 point on Butner-Falls of Nuese Gamelands back in 2009 so when I saw a small buck laying in the ditch not far from the parking area I knew they had been moving and felt good about my chances.
Wow, time flies when you are busy with work and try to squeeze in hunts. Makes me forget that I need to put my hunts into print when they are all said and done so I can share them with you guys and look back on them days, months and even years later. All that being said, let me fill you guys in on how my first muzzleloader hunt of the year went back at the end of October.
I was able to get out for the last weekend of the Central muzzleloader season here in NC on Saturday. I hunted a spot where I had success with the bow last year, waking up to some great cold morning weather with a temperature of about 37 degrees! I arrived to the parking area and found one other guy who was hunting with his bow and had a quick conversation with him to see where he planned to hunt. Quick piece of advice: It's always a good idea to do this so that you don't hunt too closely to someone else and you especially need to know where everyone is, if possible, when on public land.
I got to my stand location at around 7 a.m. and settled into my tree as the sun was rising! The sun came up and the birds started to chirp...but no deer! I heard a few shots in the distance and by noon I had not heard much action for a couple of hours, so I packed it up for the day; but hey, a day in the woods is better than a day in the office! Even though I did not get a shot or even see a deer, it was still a very enjoyable morning. Especially since I find sitting in a tree one of the most relaxing things I do!
In celebration of the Eastern NC muzzleloader season starting tomorrow, here is the story of Paul's first buck with his CVA Accura...yea, we know it's a NY buck, but it's still a good story to get you pumped down here in NC!
I bought a CVA Accura muzzleloader in 2008 and hunted with it during the Regular New York Deer season. I headed out on Opening Day in 2008 with only my muzzle loaded I had decided that since I just spent a good chunk of change on this new "toy" I'd better hunt with it! I had spent many hours at the local range sighting this gun in and I was confident out to 200 yards with the Accura.
I was settled into my stand and around mid morning I saw a very large buck come out about 150 yards away in the thick swamp area behind my stand. I scoped the buck and saw that he was in fact very large! He was moving quite fast and would not give me a good shot, the only shot I had due to the thick cover he was in was a head shot which I was not willing to take at that range, there are too many factors that could cause you to miss, especially shooting in the type of cover he was in. I watched as he walked around me and passed all of the other hunters I was with that day, all who were hunting with slug guns and non of them could get a shot either he was just keeping too much distance from us.
About an hour later I had a small doe probably only about a year old come right out from behind me and walk about 10 yards next to me. Although not a shooter, what better to draw in a big buck than a live doe decoy ;) I watched as she feed near me and kept a close eye out behind my stand where she had exited the thick cover hoping a buck would come out. Within about 10 minutes one did! He must have been walking right in the Doe's tracks! I turned around in my stand and got a solid shooting rest thanks to a branch in my tree! When we got within about 25 yards of me I had a great broadside shot and I took it, as the smoke cleared I saw the buck run right past my stand and stop about 50 yards in front of me, the doe was about 30 yards away from the buck and both had just frozen not knowing what had happened.
A million thoughts ran through my mind and the first was "Dang how did I miss him!!!!", the second being "Man, I wish I had my slug gun with me so I had a quick follow up shot" and the third being "How am I going to explain missing a deer at 25 yards??!!". I started to reload as fast as I could while both deer just stood there! I got the 777 pellets loaded and the sabot seated onto them and pulled out a primer and then he dropped!!!! Boy was I happy when I saw him go down! I had a double lung shot on him and it just took him a minute to go down! I took a huge sigh of relief as now I could relax and tell everyone on the radio that I had a huge buck down!
I'm not 100% sure if this was the same buck that I saw a bit earlier but it sure looked like it, the left side of his rack was pretty memorable and it looks to be the same deer but I can't ever be sure, but I'd put my money on it as we did not see another buck that large the rest of the year. I unfortunately was leaving to take a job in NC in a few days and was unable to get this deer mounted ( I still take some grief from folks for this ) but I have the memory and that is all that matters to me! I've attached some photos for your viewing pleasure, once of which is the antler mount that I put together that is hanging in my living room!
Soon after this hunt the muzzle loaded started to experience some mechanical problem, the firing pin spring was not working properly so I had to send it in for service. It was low down on my to do list and took me nearly a year and a half to get it sent out, however CVA got it right back to me and I have it in hand and ready for this upcoming season! I can't wait to get out with the Accura again, it's a great gun!
I just wanted to share a recent experience that I had with CVA. I bought an Accura from CVA about two years ago. I used the muzzleloader for a season, harvesting a very nice 8 point buck during the open day of gun season in New York while my Step Dad harvested a nice doe on one of the last days of the season. My overall experience has been great with this gun as it shoots very accurately. I'll leave the details of the gun for another post; however I do want to share a good experience I had with CVA's repair service.
After the first season, I noticed that the firing pin was not recessing back into the breech face bushing. Basically, once the gun was fired it could not be fired again without pushing the firing pin back into the bushing. I concluded that the firing pin spring must be either broken or dirty. I tried again and again to remove the breech face bushing....without success. Fortunately CVA offers a lifetime warranty on all of their rifles! I packaged the gun up, filled out an easy form found here and mailed it back to the factory for repair.
To my surprise, within 3 weeks I had my gun back! The repair was free of charge and the shop performed the following:
- Repaired the bushing and cleaned the firing pin and firing pin hole
- Cleaned the entire gun (top to bottom!!!!)
- Sent a tube of good grade cleaning gel
- Best of all they attached a 30% off VIP discount coupon good on one item...even one of their rifles!
Customer service like this is what keeps folks coming back to buy more guns as well as recommending these guns to fellow hunters and shooters. I was very impressed with the job they did and the speed in which they performed the repair.
I'll get off my soap box now and let you take a look at their rifles...if you are in the market for a new muzzle loader, take a look!
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Taking a Walk on the Wild Side
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