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You don't have to cruise through the NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING website very far to realize that the .50 caliber Traditions VORTEK Ultra Light LDR is at the top of my muzzleloading rifle preference list. Rounding out that "Favorite Combo" would be the Hi-Lux Optics TB-ML multi-reticle muzzleloader hunting rifle scope...a 110-grain charge of Blackhorn 209...and the saboted 300-grain polymer tipped Scorpion PT Gold spire-point bullet from Harvester Muzzleloading. This combination has rewarded me with quite a few sub 1-inch hundred yard groups over the past year and a half.
Thanks to the 30-inch barrel (28 1/2-inch working bore) of this rifle, the load is good for 2,009 f.p.s. at the muzzle, generating right at 2,690 f.p.e. at the muzzle. The above buck was taken just a few days before this past Thanksgiving, with a single well placed shot at 140-yards. At that distance, the load was still good for around 1,650 f.p.s. - meaning this buck was hit with more than 1,800 foot-pounds of retained energy. The buck went less than 25 yards after the 300-grain bullet passed squarely through the chest cavity.
By the time I had pulled the trigger late the afternoon of the 5th day of hunting, I had already passed on 14 or 15 smaller 3x3 and 4x4 whitetail bucks, plus had seen five other whitetail bucks of this same class...or slightly larger. During one long morning walk along the rolling ridges that overlook Montana's Musselshell River, I had also tried to catch up with a giant 30-inch class 5x5 mule deer buck, but could just never get ahead of the deer...or to get within 300 yards of the buck. That same morning, I did have the crosshairs on a nice 20-inch spread 4x4 mule deer buck, but passed. Then, I decided to concentrate on river-bottom whitetails.
That's the beauty of hunting the Missouri Breaks of north-central Montana, there are good numbers of both whitetails and mule deer.
Watch for the feature article on this hunt on the NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING website in early to mid January 2014. It's one of many great articles slated for the website this coming year.
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