The Outdoor Journal by Kyle Carroll
Missouri's last firearms deer season opens the day after Christmas and will run for 10 days, ending one half hour after sunset on January 5th. This is the season formerly referred to as the muzzleloader deer season, but now allows center fire hand guns, air guns, and Atlatls.
Back in the 1980's when Missouri's deer herd was still expanding, hunters began to request a muzzleloader season be added. The Conservation Commission really didn't want to add an additional deer season since there was already an archery season and a firearms season. The thinking was, where would the request for special seasons end if they added a special season for muzzleloaders. (They may have had a point when you look at all the methods tossed into the “Alternative Methods” season today.)
Eventually, the Commission did approve an additional season for muzzleloaders, but the hunter had to choose between a regular firearms tag or a muzzleloader tag. You couldn't hunt with a modern firearm if you purchased a muzzleloader tag. Most muzzleloaders at that time were traditional cap or flintlock guns. Enforcement was a little bit of a challenge but for the most part things ran smoothly.
Things changed in 1985 when a Lancaster Missourian by the name of Tony Night introduced the first “inline” muzzleloader, the MK-85. Ultimately the deer regulations were changed so that hunters could buy one tag and participate in both seasons. The Night rifle jump started a whole new industry and interest in black powder deer hunting. Muzzleloader designs along with the propellants and ignition systems they use continue to evolve and improve to the point that some modern muzzleloaders equipped with scopes are capable of accurate shooting at 100 yards and sometimes more.
Next week we will look at the new FIRESTICK system that moves things even further down the road. In the meantime, I'll stick with my flintlock and see what happens.