John's Journal...

Decrease the Range to Take More Blackpowder Bucks

The No-Place Places

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.

By shrinking the yardage you plan to shoot with your blackpowder riflClick to enlargee to much less than the maximum effective range of the rifle, you can begin to identify what I call nowhere places that often home big bucks you can hunt at close range. You'll locate a nowhere place in ...   
* the woods where big bucks travel that no one assumes will hold good hunting;   
* small, heavy-cover sections of land perhaps less than 30-yards wide with a road on one side and a field on the other;   
* a small patch of thick cover behind a campground where no one will consider hunting.     Charles Stewart of Decatur, Ala., took a 4-1/2-year-old 12-point buck that scored 161-3/8 B&C points when he hunted a thick-cover region less than 1/2-mile from the biggest campground on a wildlife management area (WMA) in north Alabama where thousands of people hunted yearly. For 3 years, many Click to enlargeof these avid hunters passed by this spot, but the smallness of the area as well as its closeness to the campground meant no one except Stewart hunted it. Stewart added one more twist to stepping back into the past to have success in the future.  Instead of bagging this buck when he discovered it, Stewart grew it for 3 years. "I found this buck and his brother when they were 1-1/2-years old," Stewart recalls. "At 1-1/2-years, this buck was an 8 point, and his brother was a 6 point. I passed them up. The next year, when I went in to hunt them again, this buck was a 9 point, and his sibling was an 8 point. The third year when I took the buck, he was a real trophy. I found him in the same spot he'd been in the first year I saw him. I'm almost certain no one else ever discovered these two deer, even though they were less than 1/2-mile from the biggest campground on and one of the busiest WMAs in our state.”
              Click to enlarge
When I asked what happened to the 12-point's litter mate, Stewart told me, "He was taken by an Oldsmobile driving down one of the woods roads. I try to have two or three bucks that I've been watching all year or for several years to hunt close up during gun deer season. I never go to the area where these bucks are holding if I know the wind or the weather conditions aren't right.  If you spook a buck out of one of these core regions, you may not be able to find him again.”
Today, you can shoot more accurately and take deer at longer ranges with modern blackpowder rifles than ever before in the history of blackpowder hunting. However, extending the range at which a blackpowder rifle shoots effectively may not increase the number or the size of bucks you take this coming season. Instead, step back into the past when you had to hunt close, study the deer more, and know when you could hunt and when you couldn't hunt because of the wind, since blackpowder guns wouldn't shoot as far as they will today. Use the traditional, close-hunting tactics of yesteryear to bag bucks this year.

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.

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 5