Keep scopes off muzzleloaders

by David Lien, Outdoor News, 2-3-12

As explained by Dan Bergeson of the American Long Rifle Association (Outdoor News: 3/12/10), back in the early 1980s, a group of hunters lobbied the DNR to get a special season for their primitive weapons (i.e., the old flintlock, Daniel Boone kind of weapon that had limited accuracy). However, today there are inline muzzleloaders that can out-perform modern centerfire rifles. Put a scope on them, and they are no longer primitive firearms.

Because modern muzzleloaders can reach 250 to 300 yards (some have better ballistics than a modern 30-30), those clamoring for scopes are just trying to extend their shooting ranges. Instead, they should focus on becoming better hunters, relying on woodmanship instead of technology to help them harvest a deer. Some pro-scopers counter with, "My eyesight is failing and I need to use a scope to shoot better."

Dan Bergeson asks, "How did you drive your car to work if you cannot see? My eyesight has been failing as well over the years. I now wear glasses and am still able to hunt with the iron sights on my flintlock as well as I did 30 years ago."  Elk River hunter Rick Havrilla adds: "My eyesight is faltering, but I still can hold on at 75 yards. I know the time will come when I have to give that up. However, that is a fact of life, and aging. At that point in time I will have many fond memories to reflect upon!"

As Dan Bergerson said, with such advanced technology, it gets to the point where we're no longer hunters but only "getters." Using scopes and modern technologies is not what the muzzleloader season was created for. Scopes aren't primitive. Besides, you have two weeks to hunt with scoped rifles during the regular firearms deer season. As Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gassett wrote: "The beauty of the hunt lies in the fact that it is problematic." In other words, the more (perceived) problems we solve through technology, the uglier the hunt.

About Caitlin Thompson