Through the course of history, technology has changed virtually every aspect of our lives, and hunting is no exception. But hunting is also steeped in tradition, so it's no surprise that time tested firearms are still being used today. The muzzleloader has been around for centuries, the black powder used to fire the weapon is said to have originated in 13th century China. Improvements in firearms have made pursuing game easier and safer, but there are those who still choose to use more primitive weapons to hunt, and the muzzleloader is making a comeback.
Jack Taylor of Batavia Marine & Sporting Supplies has a lot of experience with muzzleloaders." It's a rifle or shotgun that's loaded from the tip of the gun, you put your powder then your bullet down, you push it down with a ramrod, and then you put something on the back to give it some type of ignition, versus having a shell casing that you would put in the back of the gun and fire."
Muzzleloaders can fire only one bullet at a time, and must be reloaded after each shot, a somewhat time consuming process. Although the concept of the gun has remainded the same, technology has caught up with the muzzleloader and has made some improvements, says Taylor." The old piece of technology is actually getting more and more sophisticated. Going from this gun, the old cap and ball gun , to the top of the line granddaddy of them all guns like this, where everything is inside. Where this one can get wet, and have problems with going off, this one's all sealed."
In a sport ingrained in our human heritage,the chance to hunt with a firearm used by our ancestors is a strong draw for those who use the muzzleloader,as Taylor explains." There are some guys that dress up in the old garb when they go out, the old buckskins and stuff and they really get into it, and stalk the prey type of thing. There's a lot of guys that really get into it like that and want to do it the way his ancestors did."
But that glimpse into the past can also provide insight on how difficult things once were. " It kind of hits home when you're out there with a primitive muzzleloader thinking wow, if I don't get something, I'm not gonna eat !" Says Taylor " And if you think of it that way it really brings a different meaning to things."
And for many hunters, that perspective can also teach that the past may not always be that different from the present.,Taylor concludes." I know several families that rely on a deer or two a year to offset the cost of the grocery bill. I know some people may sit back and say boy, I didn't think that existed, but it's getting more and more prevalent as the more the economy tanks out here, and they really rely on it to feed."