It’s important to be familiar with rules of the state you hunt before heading out with a muzzleloader, since some states have restrictions on firearms and accessories. Several states have muzzleloader - only seasons, enabling hunters to pursue elk during the rut.
No other shooting industry has had as much recent technological advancement as muzzleloading. In fact, the term “blackpowder” is now obsolete because blackpowder has largely been replaced by Pyrodex, a blackpowder substitute.
Another major change is the advent of the in - line rifle designed by William Knight in 1985. Basically, there are several types of muzzleloaders - the flintlock that depends on loose powder to fire externally, then sending a spark to the main charge behind the projectile; the standard percussion rifle that is fired by ignition of a cap; and the in - line that operates like the standard percussion, but all firing components are in a straight line.
Projectiles vary enormously, from round balls to conical bullets to sabots. The sabot is simply a factory bullet inserted into a plastic cup. They range in size from 180 grains to 325 grains. Most elk hunters like the heavier sabots fired by at least 100 grains of powder. Both .50 and .54 caliber guns are used by elk hunters, with the .50 caliber typically the most popular in elk camp.
Experienced hunters know that each gun has a “sweet” load - one that it performs best with. It’s a good idea to experiment extensively to see what works best for you.