There’s something special about muzzleloader hunting that often gets overlooked. As hunters, we read the hunting digest each year to confirm season start dates and when we can use our weapons of choice.

When muzzleloader season opens, we know it means less hunters. I don’t know about you, but this gives me a very satisfying peace of mind. You read these stories about hunters shooting their own hunting partners, and it makes you wonder what can happen to lone hunters.

Original muzzleloader hunting dates back to the 18th century, even as early as the 17th century with the development of the flintlock mechanism. The flintlock then evolved to percussion, which has evolved to the more popular inline muzzleloaders of today.

Whether you prefer the smoky flintlock or percussion, or you enjoy the ease of an inline, you still have something in common: a fondness for traditional-style hunting.

It’s a ritual. Before you set out for your hunt, you carefully prepare your muzzleloader. You begin the ceremony by ensuring the weapon is clean. A clean muzzleloader is a safe muzzleloader. You measure your black powder of choice, and so your rite continues: with a ramrod, and a projectile.

Your mind does not wander, your focus is your weapon and your breathing has already settled for aim. It is a slow, calculated process because if you do not properly seal your bullet, you may be very disappointed when your buck walks away from your attempted fire. As you know, you cannot simply load another bullet.

At the close of your ceremony, you grab your pack and embark on a familiar challenge. You know you have only one shot, and you must make it a clean shot. It is a self-fulfilling test, meant only for your own satisfaction of skill.

The accuracy, the control, and the sacrifice. This is how man hunted in the early years of our country, and you are paying tribute to that history. Do you feel a certain oneness with your roots? I know I do.