Pennsylvania’s Tradition: Flintlock Hunting

Pennsylvania’s Tradition: Flintlock Hunting

Kevin Mennett

September 16th, 2014




To some, Pennsylvania’s flintlock season is a way to fill a deer tag, to others its a chance to take a step back in history, to me it is simply another excuse to enjoy the outdoors and have some fun.  It took my brother Cory some time to convince me to put down my bow in the late archery season and pick up the flintlock.  I was extremely skeptical at first, as I didn’t feel it offered the challenges bow hunting did.  I quickly found out that hunting with the “smoke pole” is definitely not an easy undertaking.  Hunting deer that have been harassed for months with a weapon that offers limited range and has a tendency not to fire when it is supposed to, offers up numerous challenges!

It is my understanding that Pennsylvania is the only state that offers a specified traditional flintlock season.  The state first offered a flintlock season in 1974 to a select 37 state game lands.  It would eventually be offered state wide in 1979.  The tradition of these rifles runs deep in the state of Pennsylvania.

2013 marks the fourth flintlock season I have been fortunate enough to take part in.  I have had some incredible experiences shared with family and friends in Pennsylvania’s beautiful wintery woods.  I have had more misses, misfires, and mishaps than I would like to admit.  To be honest, I have enjoyed each and every one of them.  Cory refers to misfires and misses as simply “all the fun and none of the work”.  I think I would agree with him. 

This past week I was invited by my brother-in-law and new Ridge Runner, Jamie Hicks, to hunt with him.  I was blessed with the opportunity to harvest a nice doe.  She presented an early morning shot and was foolish enough to stick around when the gun failed to fire.  I quickly reset the hammer and took aim; this time the flint ignited the powder and my aim proved true.  When the smoke cleared, I could see the white belly of the doe lying exactly where she stood when I fired.  I quickly said a small prayer for the life of the animal and gave thanks for the food she will provide.  It is something I have done with each deer I have harvested.  I feel it is only right, it is a sign of respect.

If you haven’t given flintlock hunting a try, you owe it to yourself to try it once.  I’ll bet if you do, you’ll be hooked, just like I was!  Keep your powder dry and your aim small!  Good luck.

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