Camouflaging Your Sounds to Hunt Deer More Successfully

Avoiding Being Too Anxious and Overzealous to Bag Your...

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Choosing the Wrong Powder to Blackpowder Hunt for Deer

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John’s Note: The trophy buck is the oldest and the smartest deer on the land you land. Trophy bucks must have eluded hunters for at least 3 years and often for 5-6 six years to become a trophy. He has learned to recognize the mistakes hunters make and understands how and where to hide where hunters can’t find him. If you’re going to take the wide-racked, heavy-antlered, high-tined buck of your dreams with a blackpowder rifle, you must hunt mistake-proof and realize your quarry may be smarter than you are.

The trophy 8-point was 30-yards away standing broadside to me in a lush green field near Selma, Alabama. I had been watching the buck for 15 minutes, hoping the buck would present this dream shot. After my first glimpse of the animal, all I saw was high, wide beams above the brush as the deer moved through the thick clover.

1I eased my .50 caliber CVA ( rifle out of the shooting house I was sitting in to dodge the slight drizzle of rain I had hunted in for 2 days. I had used barrel covers when I was carrying my gun to and from my stand to keep my powder dry but had removed these covers after I entered the small shelter. I had sighted in my rifle and was totally confident of my ability to bag that huge buck.

The deer stood on the edge of the clear-cut and studied the does in the field before exposing himself. Finally the deer boldly walked 20 yards out into the field and started to feed. I brought my rifle up, found the buck’s shoulder in my open sight and slowly squeezed the trigger. After the hammer fell, a loud, deafening noise of metal against metal sounded, but no explosion occurred. The deer bolted, just as the gun went off when the hang-fire happened. However, when the smoke cleared, the buck was standing still 35 yards away. Although I quickly tried to reload, the buck had had enough of blackpowder hunting and left the field quickly the way he had entered.

The next week I called my blackpowder hunting friend to find out why the gun had hang-fired at the critical moment. When he asked me what kind of powder I was using, I told him, Pyrodex ( “That powder is your problem,” my friend, who was a longtime blackpowder enthusiast, explained. “Even though Pyrodex does burn cleaner and is the powder of choice for most modern blackpowder hunters, it is not a perfect powder. Pyrodex seems to absorb moisture from the air quicker than FF black powder does. Because I don’t know what the weather will be when I hunt, I always carry both black powder and Pyrodex. If high humidity or rain occurs on the day I hunt, I use black powder. If the humidity is low, and the day is sunny, I shoot Pyrodex.”

3I had seen the trophy blackpowder buck of my dreams. I had had an easy shot, but because I had made a mistake and chosen the wrong powder for the weather on the day I was to hunt, the buck escaped the lead ball. Perhaps he will be in the same area for me to hunt again with black powder next season.

To get John E. Phillips’ eBooks, audio books and print books on hunting deer, including his newest deer-hunting book, “Whitetail Deer and the Hunters Who Take Big Bucks,” available at, click on these books to learn more, “How to Hunt and Take Big Buck Deer on Small Properties,” “How to Hunt Deer Up Close: With Bows, Rifles, Muzzleloaders and Crossbows,”PhD Whitetails: How to Hunt and Take the Smartest Deer on Any Property,” “How to Take Monster Bucks,” “How to Hunt Deer Like a Pro,” and “Bowhunting Deer: Mossy Oak Pros Know Bucks and Bows,” or to prepare venison, “Deer & Fixings.” Or, go to, type in the name of the book, and download it to your Kindle, and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer. You also can find John’s books on Nook at

For free information on making jerky from your deer to provide a protein-rich snack, you can download a free book from

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