Colorado Muzzleloading Memories

Bowhunting has always been my passion and the bow and arrow my weapon of choice. I might add that this has remained unchanged for nearly fifty years too!

Occasionally though, I have toted around the powder and ball. Not that much, mind you, but enough to know that black powder hunting has its own special romance and charm. And, I have often said that muzzleloading may be the most effective way to take a trophy class big game animal in the west. It may be even more true today.

Here’s a long-lost photo from the early 1980’s, taken in the middle of an epic rain storm on an elk and mule deer hunt on Red Table Mountain near Basalt, Colorado.

The bucks were huge and the elk were plentiful, but I’m afraid that the weather won the week on this trip. I also learned, forever, what it means to “keep your powder dry”.

I can’t tell you how much I now wish that I had taken many more pictures on this hunt, but I do remember being far more concerned about wind, and mud, than taking pretty photos. It rapidly turned into a battle for comfort, and survival, while waiting impatiently for conditions to change. Some hunts are like that, and it’s always best to be prepared, particularly when carrying around the old smokepole.

I did bring back a bucketful of memories, however wet they may be. I can still see those giant mulies staring through the mist and downpour, on a mountain where you can barely find a buck today,

And I can truly say, that those were indeed, the days…


An elk and mule deer hunter in northwestern Colorado poses on the deck of a small hunting cabin, somewhere on Red Table Mountain in the mid 1980's. Michael Patrick McCarty
A Dry and Warm A-Framed Port in The Storm. Photograph by Kevin McBride


A muzzleloader hunter poses for the camera in northwestern Colorado, about to set off for elk and mule deer on Red Table Mountain in the mid 1980's
It’s All Blue Skies For A Hunting Man. Photograph by Kevin McBride

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We Can Also Recommend That You Pick Up a Copy of:

Black Powder Hobby Gunsmithing (Paperback)

From the rear cover of this 256 page book: “A Hands-On Book for Hobby Gunsmiths From a Black Powder Expert and a Leading Custom Gunsmith. Tools, technigues and projects for amateurs with a widely varying skill level – from kitchen table to home workshop.” And from the Preface: “This book entertains four levels of blackpowder hobby gunsmithing: Kitchen Table, Home Workshop, Hobby Plus Help, and Academic. Kitchen Table home hobby gunsmithing is so-named because this level of work can be accomplished on a kitchen table, ideally with a sturdy, portable board as a working surface. The tools required are absolutely basic: screwdriver, small hammer, pliers – tools readily found and reasonably priced. The Home Workshop level is done in a reasonably well-equipped workplace. Thousands of hobbyists own and work in home shops containing tools that range from basic to semi-sophisticated. Relatively high-level repairs, as well as embellishments, adjustments and refinements to muzzleloaders, are readily accomplished in the home workshop. Furthermore, full-blown custom muzzleloaders can be built in the well-equipped home workshop. Hobby Plus Help builds upon the Home Workshop level. Gun repair, embellishment, customizing, personalizing and all aspects of muzzleloader smithing can be successfully accomplished by the hobbyist who hires a little professional help. The hobbyist tackles all aspects of the project that he and his tools can handle. The fourth level of blackpowder gunsmithing is the Academic approach. Not all smithing can be done by the hobbyist, or even by the local pro, but this does not excuse the hobby smith from understanding the problem or adjustment. All dedicated shooters should try to learn as much as they can about firearms and gunsmithing.” Dozens of photos, illustrations and charts are seen along with the descriptive text.

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