Should Muzzleloaders Be Scoped?

By Randy Wakeman


The scoping of muzzleloading rifles seems to be a topic of interest, whether elective or mandated by local statue. Though the basis for doing so would seem self-evident to most; apparently it is more latent than it appears at first blush.

As for gun laws and hunting regulations in general, it is hard to say that we should have more than we do now. Gun laws don't work, of course, and bad laws do exist. Our simplified tax code is a beautiful example of our bureaucratic efficiency, inclusive of our paperwork reduction act.

Whenever equipment choices are discussed, the pedestrian pouting as to who has an economic interest seems to rear its ugly head. Everyone I know has an economic interest; few people do nothing for pay, and can lay claim to skating through life without earning a living. Those born into great family wealth or the few claiming to be professional philanthropists are quite rare. Few folks capable of holding a job would continue performing that work with no economic interest.

States have a great economic interest in deer hunting and deer management. Tags are revenue; nationwide deer-related crop damage has been estimated to be in excess of one billion dollars annually. Few of us think we are paying too little for car insurance; yet the deer-automobile collisions rise every year. We all pick up part of that tab, one way or another. Hunters are a part of tourism, and there is $2.4 billion in annual federal income-tax money generated by hunters' spending alone. You can believe there is economic interest, rightfully so, and it affects most states in the union.

The reason for scopes is transparent: to see what you are shooting at. Scopes afford better shot placement, quicker kills, better game recovery, and greater safety. It has always been that way.

For those with less than perfect vision, the majority of hunters across the country, optics are an even more vital component of ethical, sage hunting practices. A scope is the last and best chance to confirm your target, what is behind it, and what resides to the left, right, and in front of it. Collateral damage and friendly fire has no place in the hunting woods. There can be no glory in a gut shot or lost animal, estimated to be over a million and a half deer every year.

Naturally, no scope can improve trajectory or make a gun more accurate. It simply allows better, more precise use of the tool that we already have. A scope in no way encourages people to shoot beyond their comfort zone; the converse is true. Those with the propensity to throw Hail Mary's have always done so, regardless of equipment. Thoughtful use of a scope stops the wasting of a button buck with a doe tag, thoughtful use of a scope stops a shot when there is no backstop, or when another animal is directly behind your quarry.

This is not to suggest that anyone be forced to hunt with a scope, anymore than mandatory use of rangefinders or even binoculars would be reasonable. We don't need more gun laws, we need less. We don't need more bureacracy, we need less. Whether handgun, rifled shotgun, or muzzleloader, those who can more accurately place a bullet with a scope should be allowed to do so.

To not encourage effective, efficient, humane, safe hunting is a tortured path that defies logic and the delicate sensibilities of those possessing common sense. To not take a game animal as efficiently as possible shows no respect for that animal. Allowing scope use is just as sensible as a regular visit to the eye doctor, and enhancing your vision when possible when operating equipment. It makes as much, if not more, sense when that equipment is a firearm.




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Copyright 2006 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.



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