I started deer hunting with my dad when I was 11 yrs. old. He taught me everything I now know about hunting. I was introduced, by him, to the finest muzzleloaders made, Thompson Center.
He taught me the old ways of using muzzleloaders; lubed patches, round balls, and real black powder. We have found that the old ways of muzzleloading, when accompanied with time and effort are the most rewarding. I harvested my first muzzleloader whitetail when I was around 14, with my Thunderhawk, which I worked all summer with my dad to acquire.
I have harvested many deer since then and now. I have also purchased and used many other brands. I always find myself going back to my Thompson/Center. About five years ago I received a T/C Hawken from my dad. The muzzleloader belonged to my great uncle, I believe it was purchased in 1976.
Knowing that my great uncle was up in years, I wanted him to see that the gun was put to good use. After hunting with the rifle for 4 seasons, with no luck, my uncle passed away. Now, more determined than ever, I took it out for the 5th year. Prior to the season I had seen a very nice buck down the road, and almost ditched my vehicle trying to take a picture. I hunted through bow season without seeing him again. The first day of shot gun season I encountered him in the woods, but he did not give me a good shot.
Five days later I jumped him in a field, but the shot was not a safe one to take. The following weekend I saw him in a field with two doe's following behind him at a trot, and again the following week the same scenario.
The second gun season I did not see him at all, and I harvested a nice doe on the last day. The last chance I had to harvest him, with a firearm, was during the four days of muzzleloader season. After a few practice shots of 80gr. FF, a lubed patch, a .490 round ball, and a #11 cap, I headed to the woods. I was plenty satisfied with the doe, but a gut feeling that we have all had before told me to be persistent.
With a fresh covering of snow I saw not a track or a deer, for that matter for two days. That Monday I went back to work. That evening I felt was my last chance, and asked my boss if I could cut out early. With a storm coming in the next day, I figured the deer would be on the move. I headed back to the woods and sat down at the base of the maple where I sat so many hours before, facing the edge of the property line. A fox squirrel was chattering, thinking he was trying to give away my position, I chattered back, and he stopped. To my amazement the buck came over a rise 10yds across the property line. From the squirrels point of view he could see the buck, and was agitated by him, not me. Using the ethics that were instilled in me by my dad, I hesitated to shoot across the property line, and waited for him to step across. The buck moved north along the property line and started out into a field. Running out of options, and hunting season, I bleated to him with my mouth, and made a blowing sound like a deer.
In disbelief, the buck turned around and headed for a legal and safe shooting lane. Bleating to him again with my mouth, I stopped him and shot. When the smoke cleared the buck had disappeared from sight. I stood up and reloaded, while getting a better look. Not seeing him from where I was standing, I headed in the direction where I saw him last. While being prepared for anything I scoured the ground for blood, and looked in the area I thought he may go.
I spotted him on the ground with his head up. Getting ready for him to get up and run, I steadied my rifle on a nearby tree, and put him in my sights. It had to have looked strange, but I yelled at him to see if he would stand up. He continued to remain still, so I headed toward him. When I got within five yards, I kicked some snow on his face, he had definitely expired. His upright head was resting on a stump.
Excitement set in, and all I could do was think about calling dad, so I did, he could not believe my words. After tagging him I was helped by a few friends, to get him to the nearest trail, and field dressed. While field dressing him I found I had made a perfect heart shot from 75yds. Following check in we gross green scored him at 180'', 16 3/4'' inside spread, 19'' outside spread 6'' bases, 25'' main beams, and 10 1/2 g2's. He is my best buck to date.
It has been weeks now since I harvested him on January 10th 2011, and the excitement is still with me. If it was not for my family, friends, and a good old rifle I would not have been able to make it happen. I have been fortunate to have been in the presence of your company’s products since I was able to shoot.
Keep up the good work, and don't forget the good old rifles, I sure won't.
Nate Murphy age 28 - Ohio.