HOME >> BUCKSTIX SKIN TITE CAMO MASK   BuckStix TM          deer scent dispenser pen 

Makers of the Patented BuckStix Vapor Action Deer Scents Deer Lure Dispenser and the Skin-Tite Camo Mask.


    Hit Counter 754647 10/5/12


How to Hunt Wisconsin Whitetail Deer with a

12 pound Mountain Howitzer Cannon 

...by: Buck Stix




Mountain Howitzer Cannon being fired


For those of you unfamiliar with cannon artillery talk, a 12 pound Mountain Howitzer cannon was a small cannon used during the Civil War.  The early mt howitzer cannons were originally designed to be disassembled and packed into the mountains on horseback, hence the name, Mountain Howitzer.  The later model Mountain Howitzers, like this one, were built on a carriage designed to be "pulled" by horses. 

The "pound" designation ( 12 pdr ) in the name " 12 pound Mountain Howitzer " refers to the weight of the projectile that the mt howitzer cannon shoots.  Therefore, a 12 pound Mountain Howitzer ( 12 pdr ) shoots a 12 pound cannonball.  All artillery cannons with smooth bore barrels were described in the "pound" weight of their projectiles and were called "Cannons."  ( like the 12 pound Mountain Howitzer Cannon )  Artillery cannons with rifled barrels were described in the "inch" of their bore diameters and called "Guns." ( like a 3 inch Gun )  

First, let me start by saying that I'm pretty sure that it may not be entirely legal to use a Mountain Howitzer Cannon for deer hunting, at least not in Wisconsin.  ( I didn't actually ask the DNR about using a Mountain Howitzer, but according to Thomas Van Haren, a Conservation Warden & Natural Resources Policy Officer of the Bureau of Law Enforcement for the Wisconsin DNR - "the use of a Cannon is not legal for hunting any species of game in Wisconsin." )

Be sure to check with your own State Hunting regulations, ...... ( Call them and ask them to look under the "Hunting with Artillery" section. )

But, never-the-less, if you live on the edge, and want a real hunting experience, ... read on ...

So having said all that, I'll give the standard disclaimer ... "Don't try this at Home"  ... "Leave it to Professionals."


In order to shoot a whitetail deer with a 12 pound Mountain Howitzer Cannon, you must first purchase a 12 pound Mountain Howitzer Cannon.  Or if you prefer, you can build your own Mountain Howitzer.  Anyone needing help building his own cannon, please  e-mail me ........... or click the links below for a special deal on Mountain Howitzer blueprints.

I  can supply detail drawings of my "full scale" 1850 No. 2 Mountain Howitzer Prairie Carriage ... 

... as well as detail drawings of my 12 pound Mountain Howitzer barrel.




Mountain Howitzer Barrel  Mountain Howitzer Carriage  Mountain Howitzer Cheeks

Mountain Howitzer Wheels  Mountain Howitzer Wheels and Trail  Mountain Howitzer Barrel on Carriage  Mountain Howitzer Finished


To begin with, one must decide on a proper load with which to shoot a whitetail deer using a Mtn. Howitzer Cannon.

Since it would be rather difficult to hit a deer with a Mountain Howitzer Cannon that used a single 12 pound cast iron ball, ( even an exploding one ) and because down range fall-out ( from 1000 to 1500 yards ) would be a factor with that single 4-1/2" diameter ball, it would be more practical to use a standard load of what was called "Canister Shot".  Using Canister Shot turns the Mountain Howitzer into rather large shotgun.

A standard load of canister shot for the 12 pound Mountain Howitzer Cannon - is 148 individual lead balls, specifically, .69 caliber ( dia ) lead "musket balls".

All 148 lead balls are packed into a 4-1/2" diameter tin can with the spaces between the balls, filled with saw dust.  Total weight of this load is about 10-1/4 pounds.  Velocity of the load is approximately 1000 feet per second, being lethal to about 250 yards.  Down range fall-out is limited to only approximately 400 yards.  ( individual results may vary )

The nice thing about using a canister shell in the Mountain Howitzer, is that each individual .69 cal lead ball weighs 1-1/4 ounces.  This is exactly the same size and weight of a standard 12 gauge shotgun slug.  ( by the way ...when you hunt with a Mtn. Howitzer Cannon, it is advisable to have a 12 gage shotgun with you, with plenty of empty fired shell cases. -  details will follow )

Casting the needed 148 lead balls takes a bit of time, and lots of lead.  It is not necessary to have perfect balls (?) but check the weight of each to insure that none of them have large internal voids which could affect their accuracy.

Mountain Howitzer Musket Balls            148 lead Mountain Howitzer Canister balls

Here is what the assembled canister shell for a Mountain Howitzer looks like.

Assembled Mountain Howister Canister Shell

The 12 pound Mountain Howitzer canister shell is easy to make.  You simply fill a tin container with the 148 lead musket balls, and then attach the container to the top of a wooden sabot ( spacer ) with small nails.  A standard load of 1/2 pound of cannon powder ( in a packet ) is tied to the bottom of the wooden sabot.  When the Mountain Howitzer is fired, the tin can ruptures and separates from the musket balls, much the same way as a shotgun wad separates from the lead shot.

This pre-manufactured canister shell has the outer profile of the inside of the mountain howitzer's chamber.  It is loaded into the mountain howitzer cannon barrel by pushing the complete assembly down the bore.

You should only need one canister shell to bag your deer using your howitzer, but assemble more than one if  you have a mind to.

Now, set up the Mountain Howitzer aimed down your favorite deer trail and adjust the Mt. Howitzer barrel elevation to 5 degrees using a gunners quadrant. ( shown below )  This angle will give a clear shot from 100 yards out to about 250 yards and limit your down range fall-out of fire.  Keep at least 30 feet clear "behind" the mountain howitzer for recoil.

Mountain Howitzer Gunners Quadrant    Mountain Howitzer Gunners Quadrant close up

Choosing an area where you can see all around the howitzer is a very good idea.  For example, set-up the mountain howitzer on a deer crossing that runs through the center of an open 100 acre marsh.  ( keep in mind, however, that marsh grass may be easily ignited in dry weather and mountain howitzers shoot a lot of flames )

NOW, ... there are several very important things that must be done to avoid potential problems during and after the event of shooting the deer with a Mountain Howitzer.  Follow the 10 steps below for a successful and safe hunt.

1.  Have a lot of land under your control. ( privately owned land or leased land is much preferable to public land )  That way you can limit who enters the area.  It would be advisable to have control of the land at least 1000 yards in the direction the Mountain Howitzer's muzzle is pointing.  Post lots and lots of NO TRESPASSING signs all around the property.

Mountain Howitzer on Deer Trail

2.   Mark the probable down-range DANGER area with "Danger-Tape", the kind of tape that says "Police Line DO-NOT-CROSS"  is a good choice, or, "DANGER --- BLASTING AREA" is another good one.  You will need about 1000 yards of this tape.  Lay the tape along the ground starting from 5 foot either side of the mountain howitzer's muzzle and flare down range at a 15 degree angle.  Extend the tape out to about 500 yards.  Keep the tape laying directly on the ground so the deer can easily step over it.  ( Don't worry about the wording, the deer can't read )   IMPORTANT, BE SURE THE TAPE DOES NOT GET TANGLED ON BRUSH.  ( the reason for this will be made clear in step 7. )

Mountain Howitzer Police Line tape            Mountain Howitzer Do Not Enter tape               Mountain Howitzer Police, Sheriff, Crime tape

3.  Tell everyone in your hunting party to STAY AWAY from you, ... until 1/2 hour "after" they hear a really BIG BOOM.  Or, better yet,  hunt alone when using a Mountain Howitzer.

4.  Instead of lighting a Quill fuse to discharge the Mountain Howitzer, I would suggest using a device that is known as a " friction primer".  A friction primer is a small copper tube that contains powdered chemicals similar to those found on the striking end of a farmer's match.  ( the friction compound )  It also contains a small charge of fine black powder.  A coarse wire with an exposed loop runs through the friction compound.  When the wire is "jerked" out of the friction compound, it ignites the black powder in the tube which in turn shoots a flame down into the Mountain Howitzer's chamber.  This neat little device provides near instantaneous ignition with no delay.  ( It was invented during the Civil War and was used with all Artillery.  It replaced the Quill Fuse. )

Mountain Howitzer Friction Primer   Mountain Howitzer Quill Fuse  Mountain Howitzer Quill Fuse Kit

FRICTION PRIMER                 REAL  QUILL FUSE                           MADE FROM A FEATHER QUILL 

( I  can supply kits for making your own cannon Fuse ) <click

With the friction primer in place in the fuse hole of the Howitzer barrel, a long pull-cord ( lanyard ) is attached to the wire loop.  It allows you to position yourself far away from the Mountain Howitzer Cannon.  Distance is limited only by the length of the lanyard you use.  Make sure to stay off to the side and not directly behind the Mountain Howitzer or it's wheels.  REMEMBER!  The Mountain Howitzer will "recoil up to 30 feet" depending on the terrain.

5. When an unsuspecting deer happens to wander in front of your Mountain Howitzer Cannon, PULL THE CORD!   Make sure that the deer is within 250 yards range and directly in-line with the howitzer's bore.  Also be sure the deer is no closer than 100 yards.  A minimum distance of 100 yards is a "must" for reasonable meat recovery. ( less damage )   You don't want to hit the deer with all 148 musket balls.  ( your goal is to shoot the deer with your mountain howitzer, not "pulverize" him )  Also, at extended distances, it will be less likely that you will shoot off the horns if the deer is a really nice Buck.

6.  When the quiet of the morning is suddenly shattered with a loud BOOM ... you've done it.  You've shot a deer with a Mountain Howitzer.  DO NOT CHECK FOR A BLOOD TRAIL IMMEDIATELY AFTER SHOOTING.  First, pick-up your 12 gage shotgun ( along with the  pocket full of empty fired cases that you brought with you ) and FINISH STEP 7.

7. QUICKLY COVER THE MOUNTAIN HOWITZER WITH A CAMOUFLAGED TARP,  AND QUICKLY PICK UP ALL THE DANGER TAPE.  You may wish to practice these steps so you can do it very fast.  ( hint: paint the inside of your mountain howitzer travel tarp in a camo pattern, then simply turn it inside-out for hunting )

Mountain Howitzer Canvas cover  Mountain Howitzer camo canvas cover

8.  Now,  "GET THE HELL OUT OF THE AREA UNTIL THE SMOKE HAS CLEARED"  ( You have just created a smoke cloud that is likely visible from the moon.  It may take up to 30 minutes for the smoke to dissipate depending on the particular area and wind conditions )  Move away from the howitzer by one-half mile. ( or more )  Sit down and eat your lunch.  Keep an eye on the area from a distance, making sure there are no nosey hunters that wander over to see what all the noise ( and smoke ) was about.  In the unlikely event that a crowd of unknown hunters should wander over, play dumb, talk with your mouth full, drool, and entice them away from the area of the howitzer.  If they comment about the "smell of rotten eggs" ( the sulfur form the 1/2 pound of black powder you just ignited )  tell them you ate a lot of hard boiled eggs for breakfast, and you have gas.  If they should discover the Mountain Howitzer Cannon, "tell them that they are trespassing on private land", and threaten to call the Sheriff if they don't leave at once.  

Mountain Howitzer smoke

9.  After the smoke ( and the coast ) has cleared, go back and start trailing your deer.  However, if you did everything correctly with your howitzer, the deer will likely be dead on the spot ... and won't need any trailing.

It would be a good idea to drag the deer away from the cannon area before starting to field dress him.  ( just in case other hunters wander over )  Now is also a good time to spread-out lots of those fired 12 gage empty hulls.

10.   In the event that you "do" have unscheduled on-lookers while you are field dressing the deer, ( especially if a Game Warden happens by )  be ready to explain to him that you got very, very, excited and that you kept shooting your "12 gage shotgun" until the deer finally went down.  Tell him you fired "at least as many times as you find holes in the deer".  Take him over and show him all the empty cases which are strewn about. ( the ones you previously spread-out far away from the Mountain Howitzer I hope)  Act very, very, excited and be very, very, convincing.  ( your freedom may depend on your acting ability )  You may need to tell him that you had to reload, two or even three times, depending on the number of holes you find in the deer.  ( the pattern of your individual mountain howitzer cannon will dictate the extent of your tale )  However, if you shot your deer at less than 100 yards, this may not work at all, and you will now be in big trouble.  ( Hopefully the Judge will have a sense of humor when he exclaims to the Game Warden, .............. "You telling me he actually shot a Deer with a Mountain Howitzer Cannon?" )

Wrap-up.  OK, since there was very little for you to do while you were just sitting there hunting with your Mountain Howitzer Cannon, you would find it easy to "simultaneously" take a picture of your shot with your digital camera.

Mountain Howitzer Cannon shooting

Be sure to take a lot of pictures of your successful Mt. Howitzer cannon hunt so you can show all the grandkids. 

( Having a lot of pictures also helps to convince the disbelievers )

for example:

This wonderful trophy was taken at 8:00 a.m. on November 22nd, 2003. 

And, it was done without damaging a  single point of this Buck's very nice 8 point rack.

Mountain Howitzer Deer

Meat recovery was very reasonable for this 120 yard shot.  Although the holes look big, there was very little extended meat damage.





only 6 HITS . . . . . . ! ! ! ! ! !


Please feel free to circulate this to as many interested people as you like .... its time we started having some fun with our Mountain Howitzer Cannons.

Next see how we built the Mountain Howitzer >> BARREL

Or.... see how to hunt Feral Cats with a Coehorn Mortar >> MORTAR


                            < < click to GET A FREE PRINT OF MY GRAMPA HOWITZER






Buckstix Deer Picture          Buck Stix Deer Photo          Deer Harvested using Buck Stix Deer Lure          Deer Harvested using Buck Stix Buck Lure          Deer Harvested using Buck Stix Products

Send a photo using Buck Stix Deer Scent Deer Lure Dispenser, Buck Lure or Earth Soap to be in our Scrap Book.

                  Web Page Design: Buck Stix  Copyright (c) 2000-2021 All contents property of BuckStix.com

Based in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Heart of Whitetail Country, USA.   BuckStix Products - American Made  Made in USA.