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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I retrieved my copy of Advanced Black Powder Hunting by Toby Bridges. I’d read it before, but it had been many years ago.

In the section on small game hunting the author makes some pretty bold statements, in my opinion, about our cherished small bores and the taking of small game.

He states that the .40 calibre and .45 calibre muzzleloaders are too much gun for small game and he further claims that concerning the .36 calibre Thompson /Center Seneca, “To shoot this rifle well with a patched round ball required a powder charge of at least 30 grains of FFFg or Pyrodex “P” grade powder. This combination pushed a patched 65 grain .350” ball from the muzzle of a 27 inch barrel at slightly over 1,700 f.p.s., developing close to 500 ft. lbs. of energy at the muzzle. That’s about 1 ½ times the energy produced by the .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire, which is far too destructive for hunting small game.”[/color]

Referring to the cherished little .32 calibre with a 30 grain hunting load in a Thompson/Center Seneca; this configuration, “…is still more destructive than desirable for small game.”[/color]

I’m a little disappointed by these words…What say you?[/color]
 

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I sez BS...I know of a family of which all hunt with blackpowder .36's..never heard complaint one about the .36 being to destructive from them...In fact one of them traded me a .32 for a .36 jist so he would be on the same page as his dad and brother...My cherokee .32 shoots jist fine with RB and 20 gr. vol. of Pistol Pyrodex with a very tight patch and spit patch cleaning between shots, even though more "knowledgeable types" have stated that it's not possible.. ::)
 

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IMO Toby is right most of the time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Mr Bridges has been around the black powder community a long time. He's seen the changes to our sport first hand and he personally knew the great icons of the Muzzleloading Fraturnity, Turner Kirkland founder of Dixie Gun Works and Val Forget founder of Navy Arms. I don't think that anyone can dispute the influence that these two men had on muzzleloading. Toby even worked at Dixie Gun Works for a period of time.

But I totally disagree with his statements made about the .32 calibre and the .36 calibre for one main reason...and that is an innate realization that I believe "We" all understand. That main point is shot placement, never once does he address the issue of shot placement as a consideration when hunting small game with these firearms. I think this is a situation where the writer lives too closely to the ballistics of the tool being used and not paying any attention to the realities of what an ethical hunter understands and does while harvesting game.

In my opinion, people that make a habit of hunting small game such as Squirrels and Rabbits possess an understanding of shot placement. This is an understanding that they then take to field when they hunt bigger quarry. Ethical Hunters don't harvest their quarry with deliberate shots to areas of the animal where edible portions are ruined. If a reputable hunter is close enough to take a small game animal with a smoke pole, their shooting into the head/neck region...if they really know what they're doing; their barking squirrels with a disturbing regularity.

Anecdotal Story: I've taken many squirrels with a full 32 grain charge out of my .32 calibre smoke pole with little or no damage to the edible portions. But more importantly, I've had the same results hunting squirrels with a .50 calibre with a reduced powder charge. In both situations it comes down to shot placement. I don't know that I'd be hunting small game with anything much bigger than the .50 calibre...that is a line that I would be hesitant to cross; and a reason that I see the .50 cal as being such a versitle calibre.

I don't see where these firearms are TOO MUCH GUN for small game....they're muzzleloaders...I can do things with a black powder firearm that modern cartridge guns cannot do....I can change my load from shot to shot to accomodate the quarry that I'm hunting or the targets that I'm shooting...and I see shot placement as an intergal part of hunting small game in an ethical manner.
 

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Toby Bridges follows the money, I have books from the 70s where he harvested game with round balls, now he thinks they are inadequate...

I use a .40 for squirrels, with 25grs FFF Goex...As mentioned, head shots don't destroy the edible part (unless you eat brains)...Drop those powder charges down and take head shots...

I have used 40grs in my .45 and 50grs in my .54 as well for squirrels, they make a mess but do the job...

True squirrels grew up taking head shots with a .22...
 

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I havent been in the muzzleloading game as long as some folks here(17 years) and I may be letting Bridges' comments on the patched round ball color my opinion about him but I have read some articles written by him in old issues of Backwoodsman Magazine and old Dixie Blackpowder Annuals and I find his writing style rather condecending as if he is takling down to the reader. I cant say that I have enjoyed anything I have read that was authored by him.

And I agree its all about shot placement. pick your shots and you may go home with less game but more usable meat. Take every shot you can and you may go home with more game but less usuable meat.
 

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I have to agree with lakota here, in total. The self proclaimed expert that he is T. Bridges has leaned which ever the wind has blown since I can remember. His entire writing history has become nothing but contradictions. If you read his early work, and compare it to his later pieces on the same subject you will find that he now calls things inadequate, or too destructive, that were once called the perfect solution. As for the .36 or .32 being too destructive yes shot placement is a huge part of the equation. Also consider though the projectile. A dead soft lead round ball tends to cut the neatest little holes cleanly through hide and bone. The destructive damage is very limited. I have shot squirrel in the chest with my .32 flinter (side on shot) and not harmed the shoulder meat, nor did I see any bruising in the upper back meat. The load was 25 grains of 3F Goex lit by 3F Goex and a PRB of .310 diameter. Now I will readily admit that you should have a rather strong stomach if shooting greys with a muzzleloader of any power since pass through shots are more common than not.

ADDED:

The energy transferred from the projectile to the tissues surrounding the impact area of the shot and the fact that the projectile is homogenous and does not expand rapidly keeps the meat loss down even on marginal hits (ie more neck and shoulder than head)
 

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My Crockett Rifle 32 caliber @ the recommended 2,000 fps charge was way too destructive on squirrels. Slowed down to 22 rimfire ~1200 fps worked just fine. Who wants to skin 1/2 of a squirrel?
 

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From what I remember, Toby Bridges is all over in-lines, and traditional guns are passe. Then again, it has been a while since I read any of his stuff. Swampy is right, most of what he writes is correct but his audience is the plastic stock, saboted bullet crowd who only want an extra season in the woods, not those who want to experience hunting like their forefathers did.

I was, frankly, somewhat disappointed that Backwoodsman magazine ran his articles.

-WH-
 
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