Muzzleloaders enjoy another memorable season

HOWARD CITY — For Kevin Hoezee, it was a fun muzzleloading season.

It always is.

Hoezee is a resident of Byron Center, but belongs to the Howard City Conservation Club and spends extensive time in the Mecosta and Montcalm counties area.

“We’re 80 acres there and we butt up against state and federal land,” he said. “I’ve been a member there for 25 years.”

Hoezee has been muzzleloading for as long as he’s been with the club.

“We were getting into black powder and a guy I worked with was talking about this club,” he said. “I came up, I went from a caplock to a Flintlock in no time.”

Since that time, Hoezee has been out about every year muzzleloading and has bagged a deer with his weapon including two years ago at the conservation clubgrounds. He figures he was 65 yards away when he bagged the four-pointer. He’s had six during muzzleloading season in his career.

“I was out (a recent) morning, and the weather, with all the mist, I was deciding if I would take the Flintlock or the inline,” he said. “Flintlocks generally don’t like all the water in the air. But I did take the Flintlock.”

The quality of muzzleloaders has changed significantly over the years, Hoezee acknowledged.

“They’ve made improvements,” he said. “It used to be all sidehammer, caplocks,” he said. “Now they use shot gun 209 primer, and have got that inline system to make it more rifle like. I shot those, I own one. It’s a tradeoff. It depends on what you want to do.”

Muzzleloading gives hunters an extra deer season and Hoezee has observed that more hunters are participating.

“For a long time, in the southside of the state, being that you can’t use a rifle down there in the shotgun zone, I would always take the muzzleloaders out because it’s more accurate in a farther distance to shoot,” Hoezee said.

He figures he could shoot as far as 200 yards with his inline weapon. Hoezee also is an avid bow and rifle hunter.

“I shot a four-point with the rifle and my son shot a big doe with his gun,” Hoezee said. “He missed one with his bow. I don’t judge my season on if I shot anything or what not. I like having fun with my son. We’ve seen a lot of deer, good deer. I saw a nice buck (Monday) morning.”

Hoezee’s biggest buck was an eight-pointer with 19-inch inside spread three years ago around the clubgrounds.

Hoezee has hunted since he was 13 and is 49 now. He teaches hunter safety at the club. He also does some duck and small game hunting.

“I did good for the little bit I went out,” he said. “I got a few geese and a few ducks. We’ve had a good year.”

But when it comes to muzzleloading, Hoezee plans to stick with it for awhile.

“The weather’s nice and you can sit outside,” he said. “I prefer it to be colder so the deer move more.”