John's Journal...

Decrease the Range to Take More Blackpowder Bucks

The Master of Shooting Short    

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Increasing the effective range of a blackpowder rifle and using more-sophisticated bullets doesn’t ensure increased hunting success. Often hunters find the opposite true.  Actually the closer you can get to a buck with your blackpowder gun, the greater your odds for deer-hunting success. To take more and bigger bucks this year, instead of trying to increase the range and the accuracy of your blackpowder rifle, take a step back into the past when hunters shot blackpowder rifles with open sights, used black powder and round balls and had an effective range often of less than 100 yards.Click to enlarge

You'll never hear Tim McKoy's name touted as a legendary hunter or see his name in the national magazines. Actually you've probably never even heard of Tim McKoy of Logan, Alabama. However, during the one hunting season, McKoy took a10-point buck that scored 152-6/8-points on Boone & Crockett and weighed 255 pounds near his home in Alabama. On opening day of bow season, he bagged a 9-point buck that weighed 235 pounds and scored 124-7/8-points. McKoy ended the season with a record of bagging five fine bucks, including the 10 pointer, three 9-point bucks, one 8-point buck and also three does. McKoy made no shots of more than 100 yards to take these deer. He made most of his shots at less than 70 yards. A short-shooting, thick-cover hunter, McKoy revisited the past to learn how to take bucks now.Click to enlarge

The Woodsman’s Approach Instead of the Rifleman’s Approach:
Any woodsman who consistently bags big bucks each season with any kind of weapon immediately begins to study the bucks in his area after deer season has ended. He builds on his knowledge from the past and increases his knowledge for the upcoming season.     "The day after deer season ends, I start scouting for the next hunting season," McKoy emphasizes. McKoy has seven principles he believes result in successful deer hunting:  scouting; preparing; scouting; preparing; hunting only with a favorable wind; realizing that any place worth hunting means he should hunt it at least 3 days; and hunting where no one else will hunt.     Click to enlarge

When McKoy starts scouting after the season, he doesn't just walk through the woods searching for deer sign. He goes into thick-cover sites where he assumes big bucks will head. He looks for big tracks and rubs on large trees because he believes these signs will indicate whether or not a big buck lives in that region. Once McKoy finds big-buck sign, he writes down pertinent information in his logbook. He'll note: the wind direction he must have to hunt that area; the available stand sites and the exact trees where he'll place stands; the location and the identification of any food in that thick-cover area; the deer's bedding region; the location of trails coming into that place; and the best direction from which to approach this section of the property. He’ll also log many of these waypoints into his GPS. Then McKoy begins cutting 3- to 4-foot-wide shooting lanes that extend for 30 to 70 yards. "I'm preparing a spot to hunt it during the next deer season," McKoy explains. "After I learn all I can about this place and the buck that lives there, I'll prepare the region for me to come back after hunting season starts to hunt that particular buck there." McKoy realizes that more deer other than the one he plans to bag may live on that land.  But because of the size of tracks and rubs he's seen, he plans to only take the big buck he’s identified.

You can learn more about blackpowder hunting tips from John E. Phillips’ book, “Blackpowder Hunting Secrets,” which sells for $15.50 per copy (including shipping and handling). To learn more, go to You can send a check or money order to: Night Hawk Publications, 4112 Camp Horner Rd., Birmingham, AL 35243 or send the money to PayPal at to order.

Tomorrow: Research the Deer

Check back each day this week for more about "Decrease the Range to Take More Blackpowder Bucks"

Day 1: Step Back to Old Times and Hunt Closer with Your Blackpowder Gun
Day 2: The Master of Shooting Short
Day 3: Research the Deer
Day 4: The Hunt for a Trophy Blackpowder Buck
Day 5: The No-Place Places


Entry 486, Day 2