This Sight is Continuously Evolving


Flintlock Fanatic

A while back I was asked to write a few words about how I got started shooting black powder and how I felt about flintlocks. Here is that piece I hope you enjoy it.

Flintlock Fanatic


     About 30 years ago while camping in the state of Washington. I heard a loud booming sound that I could not Identify as any firearm that I was familiar with. Investigating, I came upon a very (at the time) strangely dressed man.
    Here was a fellow , dressed up in Elk hide moccasins, buckskin leggings, Breach clout, cotton drop-sleeve shirt, and a broad brimmed low crown felt hat.
This here coon was blasting away at a stump with a very unusual looking rifle. The rifle, was a caplock, swivel barreled, 58 caliber. muzzleloader, with 22" barrels, weighing in at about 14 pounds.
    After a few words of greeting, he asked if I'd like to try a shot or two. "Sure" I said, being a lover of any thing that goes "BOOM", Maybe, that was my first mistake. The fellow proceeded to (as was his custom with "pilgrims") double load both barrels . He handed over the piece and after some preliminary instructions said something like, "here, give her a go".
    As I lifted the rifle to my shoulder I noticed the beautiful workmanship. The stock was carved with scrolls and floral designs, the lock was also ornately engraved. In those days rifles like that were not a common sight. That first shot was at a stump not far away. The blast was deafening, and the recoil rocked me back on my heals. There was a blinding cloud of white smoke, and the smell of brimstone.
    I was instantly hooked! I think my next words surprised him. "Can I try that again"? I asked. Adrenaline making my heart race and my knees shake. "Sure" he said, with a smile. He showed me how to swivel the second barrel into firing position. I did as instructed, aimed at the stump, and fired. I don't know if ether shot hit the stump, but I didn't care. I was content to hear the "BOOM" , feel the bump on my shoulder, and smell that wonderful black powder smell. I was every bit as hooked as any heroin addict.
    Where can I get one of these"? I asked, with a pounding hart, and a quiver in my voice.
    "I can build one for you" he said, with a grin.
    The price he quoted me rocked me back as much as the recoil of that amazing rifle.
    At the time, I was going to school on the G.I. bill, and raising a family. There wasn't allot of extra money around for toys.
    I guess, he could see the disappointment in my face. With a slight chuckle he said, that he would give me a magazine that might have something in the adds that I could afford. That magazine was, "Muzzle Blast". I read every word. (The addiction was intensifying).
    Among the ad's, I found what I so avidly sought. The Numrick Arms company was offering a, 45 caliber Hopkins & Allen Minuteman Kentucky rifle kit, in either flintlock, or percussion, for only $99.00. Even a guy raising a family on the GI bill can afford that. It took me a couple of months to save up the money.
   Like many new black powder shooters, I was afraid of flintlocks. I thought they would be difficult to shoot, too finicky, and frustrating. I ordered the rifle in percussion (caplock).
    "I know better now."  
    Flinters do take a bit more attention, but the rewards are worth the little extra effort. There is a great feeling of pride, when you place a ball in the ear of a squirrel, or drop a pheasant at the top of his climb, with one of these most romantic of all firearms.
    About 10 years ago I converted that same rifle ("old kaintuck") to flintlock; (the addiction is now complete). I have taken; squirrels, rabbits, black tails, and a few shooting prizes at rendezvous with this rifle.
    I have purchased several muzzle loaders since. Some are caplocks, but most are flinters. I let pilgrims shoot the percussion guns.
    I use a 36 caliber flintier for squirrels. I have a Mortermer 12 gauge flintlock, that I use on pheasant, and quail. I also bought a 54 caliber barrel for the Mortermer to hunt Mule deer with in Colorado. The hunt was unsuccessful, do to "good weather". But that's not important. "THE HUNT IS THE THING".
    Hunting with a flintlock is less about making meat, than it is about getting in touch with history, and the romance of another era. When I'm stalking the woods with my flinter, dressed in buckskins, I feel as though I have stepped back in time to a simpler age. I can almost feel the presence of the spirits of men like, Simon Kenton, Boon, Crocket, and all those other hunters that kept their families fed, back when flintlocks were the highest form of firearm development. I can relate to the difficulties they faced. Making sure the powder is dry, and the flint sharp. Stalking to within 100 yards or less, and holding a steady aim until the target disappeared in a cloud of smoke.
    Is it easy? Maybe not. It takes practice, patience, concentration, and skill. But, after all, Isn't that what hunting is really all about? I mentioned that I hunt gray squirrels with a 36 caliber. flintier. I limit my self to head shots only. Do I always score? No! Does that diminish the thrill and, enjoyment of my hunts. Hell no! If anything it adds to them. I am, a "flintlock fanatic", and I don't hunt with any thing else. Maybe I'm just caught up in the romance of it all, but I can't bring my self to go into the field with any other style of firearm.
    After all, I am attempting to take a life , and I try to make it as challenging as possible, and still make a clean kill.
    I can't hit the inside of a barn with a bow. I am too old and slow to chase down my prey and club it , so I'll stick with my flintlocks.
    If You want to experience the challenge and romance of hunting the way our forefathers hunted. Get yourself a good flinter, learn to shoot it, then head into the woods for some of the most satisfying hunting you will ever do. Good hunting, and keep your powder dry

(T. Foot)

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