Black Powder

Why I Love Black Powder. A Super Addicting Sport!


My addiction with black powder started early, around eleven years old, after attending the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association Spring Shoot in Friendship, Indiana.

They say once it gets under your fingernails there is no turning back . . . I love the smell, the sound, the history. It is so much fun!

My father went there the year before with his friends and took the whole family the year after. My two brothers and I walked around in amazement and then declared to him that he was never allowed to go back again without us.

Some time after that my dad started building black powder rifles. Then one Christmas when I was about thirteen years old he surprised me with the ultimate present. The first black powder rifle that he built, a .45 percussion cap made out of tiger striped maple. It was, and still is beautiful thirty years later.


I made this powder horn in 1985 when I was 12 years old.

Now in today’s world where more and more woman are hunting this might not seem like a strange present, but it was thirty years ago. Most girls didn’t shoot. In fact, I don’t remember any woman shooting or hunting the entire time I grew up. My mom didn’t. I was entirely influenced by my Dad.

It was tradition, in my family to open our presents in front of our extended family at my grandmother’s house. I remember the shocked look on my cousins, uncles, and aunts’ faces. All of my girl cousins got clothes or dolls. I got a gun. I did not care what they thought. I was ecstatic.

The following year whitetail deer hunting season rolled around in my home state of Illinois. I told my father that I was going with my .45. Thirty years ago I was the only girl that I knew that wanted to go hunting. I was the odd ball out, but I didn’t care. I was determined. I endured a good amount of teasing from all of my dad’s friends. They loved teasing me as I was the only girl, but secretly I earned a lot of respect.

So why do I prefer black powder for hunting whitetail?

You only get one shot and that’s exciting.

It forces you to wait. It requires you to only take good, well placed, humane shots. Yes, I know that all hunters should have the same goal no matter what they choose to shoot, but with black powder, you should adhere to this rule even more.

I can’t tell you how many times I sat in my tree and heard the boom, boom, boom of a shotgun; too many shots for just one deer. Either they missed or they just turned the poor deer into swiss cheese. With black powder, you should only count on getting one shot before the deer runs away. And above all, you don’t want to maim it. Just making things a little bit harder, also makes it a bit more exciting.

I love the smell.

I know, call me crazy if you are not into black powder, but there is nothing like it. It just smells good. And it has a special sound. I grew up hunting on 50 acres where we were positioned near our friend’s hunting land. When one of our black powder guns went off we knew it was one of us. And they knew it was us too. It made us feel like we were part of a special club.

I feel like I am taking part in history.

It is how people hunted for several hundred years from the matchlock to the flintlock to the percussion cap. It worked well for them and it works well for me. You can be a mountain man with a Hawken cap lock or you can be a modern man who shoots a new fangled black powder rifle with a scope. I love the variety of options out there: percussion cap,  flint lock, pistol or rifle.

I like having to get close.

I think it’s only fair. I like the feeling of my heart beating rapidly in my chest from the first moment I notice the deer from the time it gets close enough for me to take a shot. All of my shots have been at 30 yards or less.

It’s exciting to make it just a little bit harder.

It is a fun challenge to make accurate shots with just one load. Over the years, I have been teased by my non-black powder friends. They ask why the heck would you want to do that? Modern guns are more efficient. This may be true, but if you are a good shot, which you should be before you attempt hunting, then what’s the real difference?

I have missed and reloaded and successfully shot again.  They might be able to do this a bit quicker with a modern gun, but it’s still possible with black powder. There is something even more exciting about having that deer in front of you and reloading as fast as you can.

This may sound cliche, but as a woman who hunts, I hate shotguns.

In Illinois, your option for hunting whitetail is a shotgun or black powder rifles. My dad’s shotguns’ have kick. They hurt my shoulder. My black powder rifle has absolutely no kick. It just works better for me. And it’s dead on accurate, a real deer slayer.

Another reason to hunt black powder is that in many states you get your own season.

This is the case where I grew up in Illinois. You are legally allowed to hunt with black powder second season shotgun and during a black powder specific season. For me, that doesn’t matter much as I don’t like shotguns, but this has made many others very happy. In Illinois, the whitetail season is already so short that many hunters started using black powder just to get in the extra days.

And that makes me happy. The more people the hunt with black powder the merrier. Welcome to the club!


About the Author Elizabeth

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