Deer Flintlock Season Upon Us
Inside the Outdoors, December 26
, 2014

The day after Christmas may mean a lot of different things to many people. Some will be returning goods to department stores that they received as gifts for Christmas, others will be returning home from a festive celebration of one of the greatest days of the year, and the third, a day for flintlock hunters to take to the woods in search of deer.

We all know that hunters using the most up to date rifles need only to load their weapons and fire when ready. But, when using a flintlock rifle, use is not that simple. That’s what makes this selection of gun more challenging, but then, also maybe, a rifle of choice that just may yield greater satisfaction that the modern mechanisms of today.

The flintlock rifle goes back to the early 1600’s and is considered obsolete by today’s standards. That’s what makes it more adventuresome for some hunters who chose to use historical methods to harvest their choice of animal using this tool.

According to http://science.howstuffworks.com/flintlock2.htm, “The basic goal of the flintlock is simple: to create a spark that can light the gunpowder stored in the barrel of the gun. To create this spark, the flintlock uses the ‘flint and steel’ approach. The ideas behind flint and steel are straightforward. Flint is an amazingly hard form of rock. If one strikes iron or steel with flint, the flint flakes off tiny particles of iron. The force of the blow and the friction it creates actually ignites the iron, and it burns rapidly to form magnetite, also called black iron oxide powder. The sparks that one sees are the hot specks of iron burning! If these sparks come near gunpowder, they will ignite it.” Thus, the lead ball (bullet), after being rammed down the barrel on top of the gunpowder, will be projected forward at a very fast speed.

As simple as it all sounds, there are drawback to using this gun, which dissuade many sportsmen and women.

According to en.wikipedia, Moisture on the frizzen or damp powder prevents the weapon from firing. Also, the flint has to be properly maintained. “A dull or poorly napped piece of flint would not make as much of a spark and would increase the misfire rate dramatically.” That is why it is so important to keep the gun properly maintained.

“Keep the powder dry” has been a long-time motto of those employing these types of rifles.

Other problems exist, such as accidental firings and frizzen strikes. “The black powder used would quickly foul the barrel. Each shot would add more fouling to the barrel making the weapon more difficult to load. Even if the barrel was badly fouled, the flintlock user had to properly seat the round all the way to the breech of the barrel. Leaving the air gap between the powder and the round was very dangerous and could cause the barrel to explode.”

One may ask, “What is the difference between a flintlock gun and a muzzleloader?”

According to www.wikihow.com, “The traditional muzzleloader is the flintlock rifle. These feature a more complex but authentic firing mechanism firing mechanism and a long ‘twist rate’ which refers to the length of time it takes for the bullet to make a rotation in the barrel.
Traditional muzzleloaders with a longer twist rate are generally more accurate when using what are called ‘buffalo’ bullets, which feature the traditional lead ball and a more modern ‘bullet-shaped’ lead. Flintlock rifles require a complex loading operation, fixing a piece of lead to strike sparks on the flashpan.”

Wearing earplugs or proper head gear to silence the explosive noise is imperative. The loud “boom” that goes off upon pulling the trigger is deafening and could do damage to one’s ear drums. Taking proper steps to insure safety when using this weapon is important.

As a result, some hunters prefer the challenge of using this type of gun and will head into the woods Dec. 26 and try for an antlered or antlerless deer until Jan. 10, 2015. “Each person must have general and muzzleloader licenses, plus an additional antlerless deer with each required antlerless license, “according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Hunting and Trapping Digest.

In Wildlife Management Units 2B (partially Westmoreland County) 5C and 5D (two eastern most WMUs), the antlered and antlerless flintlock deer season extends from Dec. 26 to Jan. 24, 2015.

Also occurring Dec. 26 to Jan. 10 is the statewide antlered and antlerless archery deer season, whereby each hunter must have “one antlered deer per license year and an antlerless deer with each required antlers license,” so states the PGC in their “Hunting and Trapping Digest.

Wishing you a merry Christmas season and blessed New Year!


- Paul J. Volkmann
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