Hunters should be sure to take care of flintlocks
TribLIVE Sports Videos
It's too bad the snow came too late for the regular deer season. A good covering of snow would have increased the total kill by several thousand. If it stays, flintlock hunters will be the winners. Deer are much easier to see against a white background, and it would have taken some of the guesswork out of counting the points before shooting.
The flintlock hunter may be blessed with snow, but it's also possible the temperatures may be down a good bit. Cold hands make it harder to reload the flint rifle, but that's all part of the game. Deer hunting in late December and into January has its drawbacks, but the blackpowder shooter takes it all in stride.
The late small game season also runs through January into early Feb-ruary which means the small game hunter during this period of the year will also battle some chilling winds and possibly heavy snows. However, the small game shooter can keep moving to keep warm. Unlike the deer hunter who normally stays on a watch, the small game hunter is constantly moving and pushing through heavy brush and vegetation. This takes plenty of energy, and even on a bitter cold day, it's possible to work up a sweat routing out rabbits and grouse.
Flintlock hunters should make several trips to a range for practice. If the front end loader hasn't been used since last deer season, the hunter may have a difficult time loading and firing. I've written before that one major mistake flintlock users are guilty of is dumping the priming pan full of powder. Many times a full pan causes a “flash in the pan.” The “swoosh” of burning powder many times does not ignite the powder in the touchhole. It takes a surprisingly small amount of priming powder to set off the main charge of powder in the barrel.
The priming powder is ignited by hot bits of metal the flint scrapes off the frizzen. Many think the hot sparks are bits of flint, but it's just the other way around. A major problem that causes many misfires is due to the flint striking too low on the frizzen. For best results the flint should strike high on the frizzen to give it a long scrape which in turn produces more sparks. To get plenty of metal bits from the frizzen requires a sharp flint. There is no exact amount of times a flint can be used until it's too dull to scrape off metal from the frizzen. It all depends on the flint. The best answer is to carry two or three sharp flints If a misfire occurs, install a new flint.
Experimenting with the flintlock should be done at the range when there is no excitement or need to hurry. Learn how to change flints and get it to strike squarely high on the frizzen. Making sure the rifle is empty, practice setting the triggers (if the rifle has double set triggers). Normally, there is a fairly crisp click when the rear trig-ger sets the front trigger. Regardless of the temperature, setting the triggers should be done without gloves. It's a lot safer.
The cleaner the bore, the easier it is to load a flint. However, it's next to impossible to keep the bore clean on a hunt. When, a shot is fired, powder residue accumulates making it difficult to push the patched ball down the bore for a second shot. By using a thinner patch for the second shot will make reloading easier.
The patch plays an important role in flintlock shooting. The patch's main job is to grip the ball so that it will rotate as it moves through the bore. The patch actually fits into the rifling and forces the ball to turn while traveling through the, bore. A rotating ball is probably more stable in flight. Many think the patch's main job is to seal the gases behind the ball. This is important, but adding spin to the ball is of greater importance.
One hunter told me a few years ago, that he literally crawled on his belly to get within shooting range of a nice buck. He said he really worked up a sweat. Then, to his chagrin, he couldn't get the rifle to fire. He said, “I tried everything possible and the blasted thing wouldn't go off.” Then, with a smile, he admitted it didn't discourage him one bit.
(Don Lewis is a long time outdoor writer for the Leader Times and other publications as well as the author of several books. His column appears each Friday on the Armstrong Afield page in the Leader Times.)
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Woman dies after bleeding on sidewalk outside Carrick pizzeria
- Penguins lose hard-fought game to Blue Jackets in overtime
- Gilbert, son of ex-Pitt football standout, commits to Panthers
- Unsung backups provide boost for Steelers defensive line
- Suspect in custody after shooting at Colorado Planned Parenthood
- Starkey: Flashback Friday for Pitt
- McKeesport Area discusses easier access of public documents
- Penguins notebook: Players prepared for tough schedule in minors
- Puppy, pals come to rescue of Lower Burrell firefighters
- Pitt falls flat in finale loss to Miami
- Pitt notebook: Boyd undecided about leaving early for NFL