I have been getting ready with my muzzleloader here in New Hampshire for quite a while. Opening day for Muzzleloader is October 29, 2016. Season details can be found at http://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/hunting/deer.html along with a hunting video there.
I feel very optimistic and you should too if you hunt in the southern half of NH where the deer are plentiful… provided you have done your homework. No you just can’t walk in the woods and get one. Yes, if you do everything right and you shoot straight, it can happen.
First and foremost you should be shooting your Muzzleloader now, not just at the bench, but how you are going to use it in the woods. I shoot standing and freehand at 50 yards or less or better yet…use a tree to stabilize my rifle. Using shooting sticks such as a monopod, bipod and tripod do work. I have a monopod with a telescoping v notch that I have used on occasion. I will be hunting with the TC Encore Pro- Hunter Rifle with Muzzleloader barrel as you could certainly guess from the numerous articles here at New Hampshire Rifleman Magazine.
Time to load? Loading black powder or a substitute in the muzzle and then your bullet (with or without a separating sabot) being sure that the bullet is fully seated atop and against the powder. Recall that it requires some technique. I have found some plastic sabots make it very hard to load and reload as the provide too much resistance in my particular rifle. I use a bullet with a built in sabot base, and they shoot, and reload easily with good accuracy. You can purchase a speed loader tube to hold bullet, powder and primer for your back up shot.
The archery season and muzzleloader season is a huge leg up on hunting deer that have not been spooked or shot at all year. But the most important part is that if you want to hunt bucks, there is no better time to call one in or rattle one in than during muzzleloader season because the first does will come into estrus and drive the bucks crazy and they WILL make mistakes. It has been my experience that if you hunt from the ground or even in a tree, you need to be ultra clean and scentless. On the ground you must walk into or quarter into the wind. Tree stand hunting is great when you know unspooked deer movement patterns and active trails or you are going to call or rattle. Remember when calling, less is more. Scouting should be high on your list in prep for the hunt. Use a compass and map. Have a drag rope or wheel carrier, license, knife, pen for filling out your tag, flashlight, first aid kit, water, a snack, and TP (I use orange or camo toilet paper if nature calls), a phone… and let someone know where you are hunting.
Be Safe and Practice, Practice, Practice.
Shoot Straight, Shoot Often.