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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Six years ago I stopped hunting with the flintlock. Had a few misses that year and ended up wounding a doe. Busted it’s shoulder on a 40 yard shot and ended up tracking it for two days but was unable to finish it off.
I was sick about it and even though this was unfortunately not the first deer I ever wounded it was probably the most painful.
Mainly because I kept getting close enough to it while tracking it that I could see it hobbling on three legs but never close enough to get a clean shot off.
Also the fact that I came to the realization that I may not be competent enough to hunt with a flintlock which I really enjoyed hunting with.

Anyhow I plan on finally hunting with it again this year and as a result it has me thinking a lot about flintlock season.

Do you guys think flintlock participation has dropped significantly over the years ? To me there’s a lot of signs that would point to that direction.
First and foremost the decline of hunters which is obvious but there is also other factors.

When I was younger we had two weeks of buck followed by three days of doe. Limited tags and archery wasn’t nearly as popular.
If you wanted to extend your deer season the flintlock was the way to go for many.
Now we have senior and jr rifle seasons in October.
Lots of tags.
A week of muzzleloader in October.
Crossbows are now legal and a popular weapon in the late season .
Concurrent seasons.

Are all these additions causing the traditional flintlock season to die out or become a shell of what it once was ?

Have any of you noticed a drop in participation over the years ?

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Thanks
 

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Muzzleloader sales are down 30,000 from 10 years ago. I do see less participation in flintlock season as well. Where I primarily hunt, we could usually rely on pressure from some neighboring farms moving deer throughout the day. That isn't happening now.

Speaking from personal experience. I used to hunt with 4-5 guys every flintlock season. We would be out there every Saturday hitting it hard. These guys began to hunt less and less. The last three years, I have hunted flintlock by myself. All have quit. Interesting thing they are also hunting other seasons less and less as well. None crossbow hunt other than me.

Because of this, I have been spending more time on a different property that doesn't have as many deer, but there is good pressure on the land surrounding it. It is a large lease and still has a good flintlock crew in there driving deer all day.

Flintlock season may be my favorite season. It is "pure" season that is free from most gadgets, gizmos, and hi-tech stuff that have invaded our hunting packs and weapons. I truly feel like I am hunting as they did 100s of years ago. Success is sweet.
 

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From 2006 to 2016 the combined resident and nonresident ML license sales in PA declined from 198,291 to 158,451. So there is little doubt that participation in muzzleloader hunting is on the decline, as are most forms of hunting and fishing. Why, is anybody's guess....
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Even though I haven't hunted with one for several years I am still out there in the winter scouting. I am not seeing many flintlock hunters either and all the guys I use to hunt with have given it up.
Really looking forward to getting back into it. Next to hunting the rut in archery season carrying the flintlock in December and January is one of my favorite things to do.
Wounding the doe was a big factor in giving it up the last six years but another factor has been that my wife and I had 4 children since then and with the exception of one all were born in the winter. Things are a little calmer now and I should be able to get out in the morning and evenings from time to time.
Might be pushing my luck hunting all day after we get through archery , bear season, and rifle season.:plain:
 

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I see about the same number of ML hunters as before. I think the ML license sales decline is largely attributed to the ever increasing cumulative number of Senior Combo License holders which include a ML License.... therefore not adding to the ML sales numbers as they include a Lifetime ML License. In effect....ML license sales would decrease with no impact on participation.

Also, my guess is that the overall average age of flintlock hunters is older than the general hunting populous. I always view stats as merely numbers which in many cases don't account for reality.
 

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Even though I haven't hunted with one for several years I am still out there in the winter scouting. I am not seeing many flintlock hunters either and all the guys I use to hunt with have given it up.
Really looking forward to getting back into it. :
Something that has really helped my field accuracy is shooting sticks. I never flintlock hunt without them now. They double as a nice walking stick too if there is snow or frozen ground.
 

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Not to discount any hard core fact numbers.But flinty sales still remain strong and their interest in the used market is high.Grices has special runs with Traditions only offered to Grices and Traditions has been introducin new models every couple years.They shore as shootin wouldn,t be doin it if the interest and sales were,t there.
 

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I hunted public land almost every day of last flintlock season and never saw another hunter. And this is just how I like it. Pressure is the last thing I want. Well, no, rain is the VERY last thing I want. This year I have two antlerless tags. One for early muzzle loader and one for flintlock. The more hunters stay home the better it gets for those still out there loven it.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I hunted public land almost every day of last flintlock season and never saw another hunter. And this is just how I like it. Pressure is the last thing I want. Well, no, rain is the VERY last thing I want. This year I have two antlerless tags. One for early muzzle loader and one for flintlock. The more hunters stay home the better it gets for those still out there loven it.
I agree that one of the best things about the late season is having the woods mostly to yourself.
I remember it being that way even back in the late 80’s and early 90’s for the exception of the weekends when we got together to do drives.
Really miss doing the drives. Always saw a ton of deer off them.
 

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A couple of things to think about when tracking a wounded deer. Don't wait for the ideal shot. If you see the deer and can safely get a shot off, by all means shoot. It very well may be the last time you see that deer. You may not have the ideal broadside standing shot, but that deer is already hit, suffering, and most likely going to die. Find the best shot you can and do not hesitate to shoot.

Also when tracking a wounded deer it doesn't hurt to take a friend or two that knows how to sneak through the woods and can shoot. A few guys fanned out has a much better chance of recovering that deer.

And of course this year you can employ the help of a dog. That could be a help.
 

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I don'e ever recall seeing all that many guys hunting with flintlocks where I go, and personally don't care. That's one reason I enjoy hunting with the flintlock. I enjoy the solitude. Now my concern with any decline is in obtaining the equipment, mainly black powder. I can see a day where maybe the stores that currently sell real black powder may stop due to declining sales. As for any decline in hunters going afield with a flintlock. I couldn't care less if they all stop hunting with them. It will leave the woods wide open for me. All I know is, as long as I'm able to get out into the woods, there will be at least one guy still hunting with a flintlock. And I don't plan on stopping any time soon.

Now as for giving it up due to wounding an animal, you'd be cheating yourself. If you don't feel up to the task then either hit the range more or take closer shots. I'll never give up hunting with a flintlock, even if I wound a few animals. Not that I intend on doing so. Hey plenty of deer get wounded by guys using modern firearms each year and I doubt they're going to give it up.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I don'e ever recall seeing all that many guys hunting with flintlocks where I go, and personally don't care. That's one reason I enjoy hunting with the flintlock. I enjoy the solitude. Now my concern with any decline is in obtaining the equipment, mainly black powder. I can see a day where maybe the stores that currently sell real black powder may stop due to declining sales. As for any decline in hunters going afield with a flintlock. I couldn't care less if they all stop hunting with them. It will leave the woods wide open for me. All I know is, as long as I'm able to get out into the woods, there will be at least one guy still hunting with a flintlock. And I don't plan on stopping any time soon.

Now as for giving it up due to wounding an animal, you'd be cheating yourself. If you don't feel up to the task then either hit the range more or take closer shots. I'll never give up hunting with a flintlock, even if I wound a few animals. Not that I intend on doing so. Hey plenty of deer get wounded by guys using modern firearms each year and I doubt they're going to give it up.
I think what bothered me so much about it is that if I hit it with the 270 it would of went down and if I didn’t kill it it wasn’t going anywhere so I would of been able to finish it off.
Instead I followed it around for two days watching it gimp away never getting closer than 100 yards .
If It wasn’t for the kids I would of probably got back sooner but this is the first year in many that I will actually have enough free time to make it worth while.
 

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How much more would ML sales declined had it not been for the October muzzle loader season? My wife usually kills 2 or 3 deer with an in-line each October, but never hunted the late season. I’m guessing there are a fair amount of hunters who do the same.
 

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A couple of things to think about when tracking a wounded deer. Don't wait for the ideal shot. If you see the deer and can safely get a shot off, by all means shoot. It very well may be the last time you see that deer. You may not have the ideal broadside standing shot, but that deer is already hit, suffering, and most likely going to die. Find the best shot you can and do not hesitate to shoot.
Couldn't have said it better.
 

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I think what bothered me so much about it is that if I hit it with the 270 it would of went down and if I didn’t kill it it wasn’t going anywhere so I would of been able to finish it off.
Instead I followed it around for two days watching it gimp away never getting closer than 100 yards .
If It wasn’t for the kids I would of probably got back sooner but this is the first year in many that I will actually have enough free time to make it worth while.
There are never any guarantees in life friend. If you shot the deer with a .270, it might very well have gone down. Then again, the same scenario might have played out. Its all in the shot. Take solice in the fact that the deer lived after you shot it. If it lasted those two days, there's a good chance it might have healed and is still out there someplace. Or, it may have died on the third day and made the vermin's top ten meals list. Either way, no reason to continue to beat yourself up over it. There comes a time when you just have to let it go. Now would it make me give up the flintlock, he ll no. Its not the gun's fault.
 

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our area has a lot of flintlock hunters. there is far more shooting than in the rifle season. there always seems to be someone looking for a rifle and a lot of guys coming over to sight in. its big in this area.
 

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our area has a lot of flintlock hunters. there is far more shooting than in the rifle season. there always seems to be someone looking for a rifle and a lot of guys coming over to sight in. its big in this area.
..you're absolutely right. There is usually 2 or 3 of us....I know of a couple groups of guys up here with parties of 6 to 8. They( and We) like it more than regular rifle season....I take my vacation just to hunt the after Christmas season!
 

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Enduring all of the many season changes, equipment innovations etc etc in our sport......our 45 year young PA Flintlock Season is as healthy as ever!! We are nowhere near the end of sending up those aromatic smoke signals!!:smile2:
 

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At one time we had so many hunters get together for late season flintlock season we had to make up a roster, now we are lucky to get 2 or 3 guys together. Work, weather and old age played a big factor.
 

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Like Loggy said, and I second it, the combo's aren't recorded as a ML license/tag sold. I have a Sr. Combo. as I'm 70 yo. My grandson just turned 12, has passed his Hunter safety course, and I bought him His license for his 12th birthday. It also is a youth- COMBO. No ML license sale reported there either. So it isn't just the seniors but the youth also. My grandson has been shooting in a small bore rifle club for a while and has done real well. He's looking forward to hunting with a firearm for himself with either myself or his dad. His combo is the same as the seniors as far as the weaponry he is permitted to use.
 
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