Muzzleloading – good or bad?

The last two weeks of deer hunting, which ended on Saturday, is limited to muzzleloaders. Bob Humphrey, on December 1 in the Sunday Telegram, offered a lot of interesting information and advice to muzzleloaders.

But one thing in Bob’s column surprised me. Bob wrote, “While I appreciate it, I’ve never been a big fan of muzzleloader season, mostly because my participation means I was unable to fill my tag during the regular firearms season.” He did add, “It’s also different, but I appreciate at least having the opportunity.”

My friend, Ed Pineau, and I loved the muzzleloading season. We would pass up deer during the regular season so we could take one while muzzleloading. And we had a lot of good luck while muzzleloading.

There’s a lot to like about the muzzleloading season. There are a lot fewer hunters, so we would have our favorite places all to ourselves. That made it easier to focus on a big buck and I got some nice bucks during that season. We often had tracking snow, which made finding deer easier.

I have written my favorite muzzleloading story before, but I’ll share it with you again here.

I always liked hunting in the snow, because you could easily track deer. One day when I was supposed to hunt in Wayne with my friend Ed Pineau, we were experiencing a blizzard, so Ed was not able to drive out and join me.

Despite the blizzard I really wanted to hunt so I slowly made my way to Wayne and parked alongside the road. This was a place that Ed had introduced me to earlier in the season and there were a lot of deer there.

The first deer I ever saw there was a buck chasing a doe across a bog. It was quite a long distance away but I took a shot at the buck anyways, without luck. When Ed heard me shoot he came over and I pointed across the bog where the buck was running. Ed was astonished because it was about 300 yards away!

The day of the blizzard I hiked into the woodlot and sat on a stonewall, and about 20 minutes later eight deer walked by me. I never really had a chance to shoot one, but they were headed into the backyard of a house that was up behind me, so I turned around on the stone wall and hoped they would come back my way.

About 20 minutes later I saw a doe doing just that and when it got to about 30 yards away I shot it. Snow was coming down hard, so I hiked out to my vehicle to leave my gun before I walked back and hauled out the deer.

When I got to the highway a state trooper was there. He thought someone had broken down. But when I told him I had just shot a deer, he actually offered to hike back with me and help me drag the deer out.

I thanked him and assured him that the deer wasn’t that big and I could haul it out myself. Which I did, and then drove a half-mile to the Wayne store to register it. They were pretty surprised that anyone was out hunting in that blizzard.


George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.