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Every year, I go out for early muzzleloader deer season in Iowa. My work schedule made it pretty easy to schedule days to hunt, until last year. In 2011, my employer was understaffed, and I was working overtime up the wahzoo. As a result, I only had one day to hunt that season. Being a "still hunter,” one day was usually good enough as long as I moved really slow and carefully.
On that only day off I had, "Murphy’s Laws" took effect. I had several problems at home, including a leaking pipe and a car issue, to deal with first. When it was all said and done, it was a little past noon by the time I got to hunt.
Fortunately, my hunting area was only five minutes away. When I arrived, I threw on my stalking gear and prepared my T/C Triumph. After dropping some powder, ramming my bullet and putting a primer in the breach, I was ready to go—or so I thought.
Upon reaching the area where I knew a small herd of does hung out, I was able to sneak within 20 yards of the herd to position myself. I had scouted this area and seen some nice bucks. I was pretty proud of my elevated position and view, so there I waited for my trophy buck to appear.
With about an hour left of legal shooting, a buck appeared and slowly made its way toward the does. It had a large beam, 10 tall tines and a massive body. It seemed like an eternity when he came into a clear shooting lane at 50 yards. Already imagining what he’d look like mounted, I raised my muzzleloader slowly, took careful aim and pulled the trigger.
"Click, Pfffff" was all I heard. Every deer looked in my direction as I held the gun in case I had a hangfire. I continued to hold my position until all the deer relaxed. Then, as quickly as I could, I assessed the problem. I removed the breech plug, and discovered that I had what I call black mud. I had forgotten to run a couple dry patches to remove the lube from the barrel. Worse yet, I didn’t have a cleaning kit.
After punching out the rest of the powder and the bullet, I used tissues to wipe the inside of the breech and plug as well as the barrel. The hardest part was still to come…loading a muzzleloader horizontally. Using the tree next to me to brace the butt, I managed to reload.
Unfortunately, my monster buck had left the area, so I chose a large, young doe to salvage my one day this season.
As I dragged my doe, I thought about how I would have been dragging that buck if it wasn’t for Murphy showing up. Thanks a lot Murphy!