| Black Powder
Choose The Right Powder
When I talked with my friend Marty Bush of Atlanta, Georgia, a longtime black-powder hunter, to learn why guns hang-fire at the critical moment, he explained, "Pyrodex burns cleaner and is the powder of choice for most modern blackpowder hunters. But Pyrodex is not a perfect powder. Pyrodex seems to absorb moisture from the air quicker than ff black powder does.
"Because I don't know what the weather will be when I hunt, I always carry both black powder and Pyrodex. If high humidity or rain occurs on the day I hunt, I use black powder. If the humidity is low, and the day is sunny, I shoot Pyrodex."
A hang-fire takes place when the spark from the cap is delayed igniting the powder. To make sure the powder ignites when the hammer falls, first clean the nipple with a nipple pick to insure the spark has a clean path to travel from the cap through the nipple to the powder.
Next, after you have loaded the gun and unscrewed the nipple to clean it, pour a few grains of powder in the nipple hole before you screw the nipple back into the gun. You now know powder is directly under the nipple and as close as possible to the cap.
Generally I always go through this procedure before every hunt. However, according to Bush, "You don't need to put powder under the nipple unless you've left your gun loaded overnight. Then if condensation has caused your powder to become wet overnight, you won't have a hang-fire."
Don't Lose Your Cap
I put a small, red cap holder over my cap to hold the cap to the nipple and prevent the cap from falling off the nipple. Because these little red rings are bright-colored, when you look down to check your cap before the shot, you can see the cap and the cap guard quickly and easily. The hunter who does not look and make sure this cap is on the nipple before he squeezes the trigger risks the possibility of not getting off a shot.
Have A Quiet Safety Switch
Another accessory that eliminates many problems associated with black-powder hunting is the hard plastic cap protector, a device that fits over the cap and the nipple. Even if the hammer falls, this device protects the cap and keeps the gun from firing. The cap protector is similar to a safety on a conventional rifle, since it allows you to have your hammer cocked yet prevents the gun from firing accidentally.
I prefer to use a cap protector because it allows me to cock the hammer and prepare for the shot without actually having my cap exposed. When I spot a deer, I can remove the cap protector, aim and shoot while already having the hammer cocked. Many times the clicking sound that occurs when you cock the hammer is all that is required to spook a deer.
Don't Carry Noisy Equipment
When I first started hunting with black powder, I carried a possible bag and all the equipment that goes in one, which made me smell like a garbage can and made too much noise. Today I hunt with speed loaders. I pre-measure the powder, use a lubed ball and am ready to hunt while carrying only a ball starter, a ramrod and some caps with me. I also take a possible tool, which contains a nipple wrench, a nipple pick and many other tools that fold up like a Swiss army knife.