Story

Muzzleloading for Mule Deer in South Dakota with Blake Garrett

13

Editor’s note: Blake Garrett’s filming partner is Robbie O’Bryan. They hunt and film for Campfire Stories, which airs on the Pursuit Channel.

We went to South Dakota to hunt with Double K Guide Service (www.doublekguides.com, dave@doublekguides.com, 1-605-930-2091). My filming partner Robbie O’Bryan and I each had a tag for the Rosebud Indian Reservation to take either a mule deer or a whitetail. On opening morning, we spotted three nice mule deer bucks in an alfalfa field. So, we knew where the mule deer would be. Once we saw in what direction they were moving, we decided to get ahead of them and try to cut them off. Our guide knew the route these mule deer would take back to their bedding area. When we first spotted the deer, they were about a mile away. We had to wait until there was enough light to see them better before we moved. Because the mule deer were traveling through a series of canyons, we had to stay parallel and downwind of them. When we reached the place where we thought we could take one of those bucks, we had to cross a canyon and climb to the top of a hill. We were almost jogging from the time we decided to move, until we got to the spot where we were going to set up. The canyons ran from east to west, and the mule deer were moving to the north. We eased our way up to the top of the canyon, where we thought we would be able to see the bucks. On the last part of our stalk, we had to make a 40-yard crawl on our hands and knees.

Robbie got his Stoney Point Steady Stix up and put his CVA Accura V2 .45 caliber on the Steady Stix. We had shot .50 caliber CVA rifles for a while, before we started hunting with the .45 caliber. When we first got the .45 caliber Accura, I was somewhat concerned about the knock-down power of the smaller bullet. But once we got these .45 caliber muzzleloaders and took them to the rifle range, we quickly learned that we could shoot them accurately out to 300 yards. Even at 300 yards the bullet retained enough energy to put down deer and other animals. In Missouri, where we live, you only can take one buck with either a centerfire rifle or a muzzleloader. So, we decided we would hunt strictly with the CVA muzzleloader during both centerfire rifle season and the muzzleloader season, since we could shoot the CVA Accura V2 .45 caliber effectively out to 300 yards and rarely had shot a deer at more than 300 yards. We used a PowerBelt 245 grain bullet, with a Vortex Crossfire riflescope, and two White Hots Pellets.

After we got set up, I was filming over Robbie’s shoulder. Two of the bucks in a band of three, would score 170-180 on the Boone and Crockett (B&C) scale. The third buck would score between 140 and 150 B&C. When we saw all three deer at 125 yards, we tried to pick out the biggest one. Finally, one of the bucks squatted, and we decided that was the deer Robbie would try to take. Robbie whispered, “Have you got that deer in the viewfinder, and is he the right deer?” I whispered back, “I’ve got him. You’re good to shoot.” Robbie took the shot at 125 yards. We heard the bullet hit the buck, sounding like a bullet hitting a wooden wall. At the report of the rifle, all three bucks took off running but only for about 20 yards, before they came over the canyon rim into the canyon where we were set up. When they reached the bottom of the canyon, the buck that Robbie shot went out of sight. When the two other bucks came back in view, we knew that Robbie’s buck must have dropped in the bottom of the canyon. We skirted around the top of the canyon using our binoculars to try to spot Robbie’s buck. Finally, we spotted antlers down in a little ditch. So, we went down into the canyon.  Then Robbie was able to put his hands on his mule deer buck that scored 170 B&C.

I realized as we walked toward the buck that we were going to have a major problem dragging that buck over three ridges to get him to the truck. Once the high-fives and hugging were over, the guide explained, “We can go get the truck and drive right up to where that buck is.” When we got to the spot to try and take the shot, we estimated the yardage between 120 to 125 yards. We hadn’t had time to range the mule deer before Robbie’s shot. Robbie knew that the Accura V2 was 3 inches high at 300 yards and at 250 yards he was 3 inches low. So, Robbie knew that he could aim dead-on from zero to 300 yards, and still make an effective shot. That’s one thing we particularly like about the CVA .45 caliber rifles.

Don’t get me wrong. We like to range our animals before we take the shot, but many times, as you know, a buck will appear quickly. You have to take the shot, and you don’t have time to range the deer. That’s why we’ve set this gun up the way we have – knowing that from zero to 300 yards we can take the shot using the scope and the mil-dots in it to shoot accurately. The more we shoot the .45 caliber rifle, the more we have decided to depend on it. It shoots so flat and is extremely accurate. The big criteria for taking animals is really not as much about knock-down power as it is about placing the bullet where you want it to hit. In this instance, had we not had our CVA muzzleloader and scope set-up the way we did, we might not have been able to take the Rosebud buck.

The winner of the CVA Facebook Giveaway will receive a new limited edition CVA Wolf .50 caliber muzzleloader with special Campfire Stories TV flame pattern! This new pattern dipped on the CVA Wolf Stock by our friends at Campfire Stories TV is one of a kind. Entries only valid for contestants within the contiguous United States. Entry period from October 1st, 2012, thru October 31st, 2012, 12pm Noon. Drawing and the winner announcement on or about November 7th, 2012. (No Purchase Necessary, Click here for complete CVA Facebook giveaway sweepstakes rules.

For more deer hunting tips, check out “How to Hunt Deer Like a Pro,” a new eBook for Kindle by John E. Phillips. You also can go to http://www.amazon.com/kindle-ebooks and type in the name of the book to find it. Too, you can download a free Kindle app that enables you to read the book on your iPad, computer or smartphone.

Images courtesy John Phillips/CVA

Any views or opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect those of OutdoorHub. Comments on this article reflect the sole opinions of their writers.