Joseph Myers outdoors commentary: Safety tips for primitive weapons

Special to the Ledger-EnquirerOctober 8, 2012 

Muzzleloader. Black powder gun. These names apply to the type of firearm that can be used during the weeklong primitive weapons deer hunting season that begins Saturday in Georgia.

During the 2011 primitive weapons season, more than 50,000 deer hunters harvested slightly more than 14,000 deer. This harvest rate has increased slightly over the past few seasons, although the number of hunters taking part in the season has remained relatively stable.

"The primitive weapons deer season provides hunters an opportunity to hunt with traditional or inline black powder firearms or to continue hunting with archery gear," John W. Bowers, the state's assistant chief of game management, said in a news release. "It is a chance to 'get in the woods' with a different type of firearm prior to the opening of the more traditional modern firearms deer season."

Hunters may harvest up to 10 antlerless deer and no more than two antlered deer (one of the two antlered deer must have a minimum of four points, 1 inch or longer, on one side of the antlers). During primitive weapons season, hunters may use archery equipment, muzzleloading shotguns (20 gauge or larger) and muzzleloading firearms (.44 caliber or larger) to pursue whitetails.

Here are a few safety tips to help you have a safe muzzleloading season:

• Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.

• Never rely solely on the gun's "safety" mechanism.

• Never smoke in the proximity of a muzzleloader.

• Use an intermediate device, such as a measure, to pour powder into a barrel.

• Keep flask and powder containers away from flames and sparks to prevent an accidental explosion.

• Use only powders specific to each muzzleloader and recommended by that firearm's manufacturer.

• Place percussion cap on nipple only when ready to shoot.

• Never use plastic (poly) patches. These are different from sabots.

• Treat a misfire as though the gun could fire at any moment.

• Make sure the gun is unloaded before attempting to clean it.

• Make sure the projectile is firmly seated on the powder before capping and firing.

• Never blow down the barrel of a muzzleloader to clear or extinguish sparks.

• Use the recommended loading materials, the correct powder charge, the right diameter and weight bullet and the correct lead material.

• Remember the gun is safely unloaded only after removing the bullet, powder and percussion cap. If you're using a flintlock muzzleloader, remove the bullet and powder, and unprime the flash pan.

All hunters, including archers, must wear at least 500-square-inches of daylight fluorescent orange above the waist during primitive weapons season. Scopes and other optical sighting devices are legal for muzzleloading firearms and archery equipment.

To pursue deer in Georgia, hunters must have a valid hunting license, big game license and a current deer harvest record. If hunting on a wildlife management area, a WMA license also is required. To purchase a license, visit www.georgiawildlife.com/licenses-permits-passes.

Callaway Gardens fishing report

The Mountain Creek Lake water surface temperature was 75 degrees last week. Lisa Beckett caught a 6-pound largemouth bass there Sept. 28.

Bream are being caught using crickets about 6-8 feet deep. One fisherman used a chartreuse jig while trolling to catch a 2.8-pound crappie.

Tournament trail

Not only do I include fishing tournaments on area lakes in this space but also archery shoots or any other kind of shoot that might interest you as well. If you know about a tournament or shoot, email me at josephc.myers@yahoo.com, and I'll be more than glad to tell people about it.

The 12th annual Smiths Station Ruritan Club Buddy Bass tournament will be Saturday on Lake Martin near Alexander City, Ala., with a guaranteed $1,000 payout to the winner based on 40 boats entering. The tournament benefits all Smiths Station Ruritan's charities, especially its scholarship fund for high school seniors. Entry fee is $100 per boat, with a $10 big fish pot available. The tournament will be staged out of Wind Creek Marina on Lake Martin. Entry forms are there and at other outlets around the lake. For more information, call Tom Kubik at 334-297-8771 or 706-587-3654.

A charity tournament will be Saturday at Highland Marina in LaGrange, Ga., to benefit Heard County fireman Kevin Banks, who almost lost his arm in an accident. The tournament, which guarantees $1,000 for first place, will launch from Highland Marina and has a $100 entry fee ($10 big fish pot). For more information, call Scott Parrott at 678-378-0816.

The Lake Seminole Open will be Saturday and Sunday, starting from the Earle May Boat Basin. For more information, call 229-243-8555.

-- Joseph Myers is an independent correspondent. Write to him at josephc.myers@yahoo.com.

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