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Old December 6, 2007, 08:47 PM   #1
Reliabilityman
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.50 Cal Hawkins and Deer Hunting-wrong set up, or just unlucky???

I have hunted with my TC .50 cal hawkins for a few years now. I have only had the opportunity to pull the trigger on 2 deer. The first deer I thought I shot, jumped, but never stopped, never found any blood. This was a few years ago. Then 2 weeks ago I shot a buck at approx 20 yards broadside in the shoulder area, he left dragging his leg. I tracked him for over 6 hours, 110 acres of brushy timber, all while following a blood trail of a quarter size blood drops to 6 inch diameter pools when he would stop for a while. The buck I am guessing would be typical of what is shot around here, about 130-150lbs field dressed. I never did find him. I am curious. Having never taken an animal with BP. I am using a TC .50 cal Hawkins with 1/48 twist. I am using a properly patched .495 round ball with 90 grains of powder. Does the round ball not pack the punch that one would expect? If I hit the shoulder area, would the round ball penetrate into the chest cavity? I hate the fact that I waisted an animal, not only for the meat, but to examine the effectiveness of the BP rifle. No luck for me. Would a great planes conical be a better option for me? I am looking for folks who have experience hunting with traditional BP's. I expected the buck to have fallen over or something upon impact, but he reacted as if he was hit with a slingshot/stung (other than the leg dragging)?? Thanks for the reply, and also I hope I was not being to graphic in my discussion of my experience. (did not mean to gross any non-hunters out). I read somewhere that blood loss is less with a round ball than with a conical since the round ball tends to streach the skin leaving a smaller impact hole than with a traditional conical? I don't know if this is true either??
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Old December 6, 2007, 09:07 PM   #2
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I imagine you hit him too far forward and broke his shoulder. A round ball will not always drop a deer on the spot like a hi powered rifle will. Just aiming for the shoulder area isn't good enough. You need to aim behind the shoulder and a little low to take out the heart and lungs which usually results in a quick drop. A behind the shoulder hit but a little high will still take out lungs and he won't go far.
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Old December 6, 2007, 10:05 PM   #3
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I aim an inch behind the peak of the line that outlines the back part of his shoulder
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Old December 6, 2007, 10:11 PM   #4
trent/OH
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Practice,practice,practice. And keep the rifle clean. Study your quarry's anatomy from every angle, so you know where to place your shot so it hits the heart and/or lungs. Breaking bones is not the same thing. Hunting varmints or small game is good practice because it gets you ready for big game in so many different ways.
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Old December 7, 2007, 01:59 AM   #5
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Quote:
I aim an inch behind the peak of the line that outlines the back part of his shoulder
A hit there is a good lung shot but for a heart shot you need to aim just above the elbow with the deer standing still and leg straight down.
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Old December 7, 2007, 08:38 PM   #6
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I have killed many deer with the same rifle using maxi-ball conicals, makes a nice hole, never had a problem.
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Old December 8, 2007, 12:19 PM   #7
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The 1/48 twist is ideal for shooting something like the Maxi Hunter, which is devastating on deer. It weighs more than the patched round ball and does hit harder. I have started shooting these out of my Hawken and find that they are a better hunting round than the round ball, especially out of the stock barrel.

If you are sure you want to stick with a patched round ball, which will reliably kill a deer if you do your job right, you may want to switch out to a 1/60 or 1/70 twist barrel just because I have found the slower twist to be more accurate with the patched round ball. Your accuracy may be suffering enough to not hit the heart lung area and hitting the shoulder instead. Maybe not if you have shot enough to know exactly where it is hitting. The .50 round ball is enough to kill a deer though.
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Old December 8, 2007, 03:39 PM   #8
sundance44s
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On those closer shots less than 40 yards you might try a neck shot ..I`ve never had one run off with the neck shot 50 cal round ball ...or like already said the heart lung shot is my next choice expecially on shots over 40 yards .
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Old December 8, 2007, 07:40 PM   #9
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I have not been impressed with the energy of a blackpowder round ball rifles. I have a 54 caliber and it shoots a 235 grain round ball. When you chronograph the thing, some 44 Magnum pistol loads, of the same bullet weight, go faster.

I have been told that 58 caliber Muskets, with their 460 to 510 grain Minie balls, have an amazing knockdown power for a blackpowder rifle. I have a musket and can tell you that it truly whacks my 100 yard gong hard.

For those round ball rifles, I have known a number of folks who have had good success with Maxi Ball loads. The Maxi ball is a huge cylinder of lead, and if you are going to use a 50 cal muzzle loader, that would probably be a better choice than a round ball.
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Old December 8, 2007, 08:32 PM   #10
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I haven't shot any roundballs out of rifles. I have a .50 Hawken I shoot conicals out of and it's ok but not real impressive. I want to upgrade it to at least a .54 one of these days. Might try a roundball barrel then. I do use a .58 Enfield with .58 Minies and lemme tell ya, it IS impressive. It'll knock a deer on his a$$. Haven't had one try to get back up yet either.
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Old December 8, 2007, 10:16 PM   #11
44capnball
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The saying goes, with round balls shoot the lung area, with conicals shoot the shoulder. The roundball doesnt penetrate enough through the shoulder, it flattens out. The conical is supposed to go thru better, maybe because it retains more velocity and has more weight?
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Old December 9, 2007, 02:17 AM   #12
rem870hunter
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if you are using round balls. you gotta hit them right. just behind the front leg. i aim for that. if it goes an inch either way you should still hit the ribcage and get a good penetration shot to vitals. maybe try the R.E.A.L. bullets. they make a 250 and a 320 grain in .50 cal. my father and i cast our own. we probably have atleast 100 of each size already cast up in the basement. i am not sure if they are commercially available for sale. they work very well in the missouri ranger. which is like a hawken. using 90 grains of ffg pyrodex loose powder. with a 1/48" twist you may even get better results with sabots. my traditions inline was have firing problems with the first 3-4 shots with the R.E.AL. bullets last year and this year. i am using cheapshot sabots in 240 grain made by T/C. using 100 grains pyrodex 777 pellets. got a 3" group at 50 yards with them. i also have a pack of 295 grain powerbelts. didn't try them yet.
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Old December 9, 2007, 05:14 PM   #13
Reliabilityman
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Thanks guys

Thanks for the information. I guess next year I may try one of the connicals out of the .50 . Or as HAwg puts it, I may try my .58 cal Springfield Replica with the Great Plains Connical??? I have not shot the .58 cal much, it was a pass down from a relative. It is a spanish replica from a company called Armini? or Something like that. Anyway I have taken plenty of deer with modern firearms, I was just real currious about the patched round ball and you guys have given some good opinions/information. I know shot placement is really important. I just never had deer catch a bullet that close and react the way it did. (now one catching an arrow that close is another story!!)
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Old December 9, 2007, 05:33 PM   #14
Hawg
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Armi San Marco or Armi Sport maybe? ASM is Spanish, Armi Sport is Italian. Try some minies with the 58. They really shine out of mine.
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Old December 9, 2007, 05:59 PM   #15
Reliabilityman
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Yeah I just pulled it off the shelf. It is an Armi Sport Remington Model 1863 Zouave. I have not shot this as much as the Hawkins, but I am unimpressed with the Hawkins and a round ball. So I may try this next year?? What kind of range can one get from a .58 caliber and a miniball???

Thanks
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Old December 9, 2007, 07:15 PM   #16
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With a prop but not benched I can hit a five gallon bucket at 300 yds. usually around seven out of ten.
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Old December 9, 2007, 07:50 PM   #17
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I applaud you for your concern about the loss of an animal you hit. It still bothers me about one i lost many years ago.
TBS, it is going to happen to us from time to time.
Muzzle loading guns are all about bullet placement. We have to know going in that we are using challenging equipment, and there may be a good long chase.
The gun you describe is a capable one. You could have had the same results from many other setups. A bad hit is a bad hit even if you aimed at the right spot. We all know what happens in the bush when our bullet hits a small branch.
Good luck on future hunts.
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Old December 9, 2007, 08:06 PM   #18
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Just a note. Don't start after the deer asap. If given a minute a badly wounded deer will run as little as 30yds lay down and hide out if it doesn't think its being pursued.
Your mileage may vary.
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Old December 10, 2007, 09:16 AM   #19
Reliabilityman
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Yeah buzz I have wounded and killed several deer, you are correct in waiting for them to settle down after the shot. In this case I was so sure that he was hit in the shoulder/chest area, but his reaction to being hit was not what I expected. So in this case, as I reloaded, I watched him drag himself out of view. I sat and listened to him. After 30 min of silence in the woods and without a visual, I decided that he was down. But he was not, he had made his way to a logging road that was clear of leaves and debris, that he no longer made any noise while dragging himself. Not to be gory, but thats how it was.
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Old December 17, 2007, 08:09 PM   #20
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Reliabilityman , I hunted for many years with an old TC Hawkin .50 cal muzzle loader. During that time I harvested many, many deer using a .49 round ball and 110 Grains of black powder. I have hit deer too far forward and shatter the front shoulder as well. The key is to wait (at least an hour) before tracking a deer if you know you hit it too far forward. Chances are the deer will run 100 yards or so, and then lay down and bleed out. If you begin too soon, the deer will run out of the county before finally giving out. I found the conical bullets to be too heavy and not nearly as accurate as the round ball. I could hit clay pigeons at 100 yards with the old Hawkin back “in the day”. My suggestion would be to up your powder charge a bit, and then practice, practice, practice. The set-up you are using will do the job when it comes to harvesting deer.
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Old December 17, 2007, 09:56 PM   #21
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sounds like you`re telling him right bigv. think i got my 1st t/c hawkins 50 cal. when i was a teen. been shooting 0.495 ball/ 0.015 patch with 90 grns. ffg blackpowder every since. killed alot of deer with that load. deer is an amazing animal. blew the heart and lungs out of a buck several years ago and he ran approx. 60-70 yds. before he realized he wasn`t alive anymore. that was with a 12 ga. 23/4 slug. my oppinion -t/c hawkins 50`s with that twist are one of the most accurate store bought roundball shooters on the market. good hunting
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Old December 18, 2007, 09:24 AM   #22
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I’ve owned a T/C Renegade in .50 cal for a long long time, and have taken a lot of deer with it. I use the T/C maxi-ball with a charge of 95 grains of FFG. This is a very accurate loading in my rifle, and a combination that has never failed me in the field. The same goes for my hunting buddies who have also taken a lot of deer with a muzzleloader. I usually aim for just behind the shoulder, and that gives you a little leeway because a hit either a little back or a little forward will make no difference. That deer will be down. The maxi-ball will penetrate a deer from end to end, or take out both shoulders. In all the deer I have gotten with my rifle, I have never recovered a maxi-ball.

Most deer will be on the ground in just a few yards, usually just a step if you take out the shoulder bones, but some lung and heart shot ones may go considerably further. Unless I actually see the deer fall, I always like to wait for 30 minutes before taking up a blood trail.

I’m sorry to hear you had a bad field experience with a muzzleloader, but my advice is to forget the round balls and go with a maxi-ball or some other conical that is much heavier than a round ball. I know round balls will sometimes shoot incredibly accurate, but play around with different loadings and techniques with your rifle and you will find a conical of some sort that will shoot equally well. There is a world of difference in performance on game between the two.
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Old December 20, 2007, 03:00 PM   #23
Reliabilityman
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Good advice from all. I appreciate it. I don't have many friends that hunt with these old style lock rifles and I got these passed down from my dad. Like I said, I have never had the opportunity to recover the deer, so I was beginning to doubt myself and the gun. Your feedback gives me more hope and a new approach to my situation for next year.
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Old December 20, 2007, 08:45 PM   #24
remjeep75
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like it has already been said practice practice practice, and keep your gun clean, your powder dry, and your pan full, if you are using a flintlock.
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Old December 20, 2007, 09:43 PM   #25
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Quote:
and your pan full
Full is too much. Makes it hang fire. Just fill to the bottom of the touch hole.
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