Hunting Russian Boar with Savage’s New AccuTrigger Muzzleloader

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & "Cousin Melvin"

November 2nd, 2003




It has been almost two years ago that I tested the then new Savage 10MLII smokeless muzzleloading rifle. The smokeless Savage added a whole new dimension to muzzleloader power, propelling a 250 grain bullet at speeds exceeding 2500 feet per second muzzle velocity. Since then, other shooters have been developing loads for the Savage that approach 3000 feet per second with no loss of accuracy.  Toby Bridges of High Performance Muzzleloading ( probably has more experience pushing the Savage to its limits than anyone else, and is very satisfied with the 10MLII. Instead of plowing the same ground here, I refer you to my previous article for details on the Savage smokeless muzzleloader, but I will add that I am a fan of the rifle. It is, in my opinion, the best of the modern muzzleloading rifles, due to its superior power, ease of cleaning, and good accuracy.

Looking back on my earlier article, my only complaint concerning the rifle was the trigger pull. While crisp, it was a bit too heavy for best accuracy. While a rifle with a heavy trigger pull can be just as inherently accurate as a rifle with a light pull weight, practical accuracy is greatly enhanced by a good trigger pull. Savage has now corrected that problem by incorporating their superb AccuTrigger into the 10MLII muzzleloader. I reviewed the AccuTrigger here when it was first introduced about ten months ago, and again I refer you to that article for specific details on that wonderful trigger concept, but let me summarize by stating that the AccuTrigger is like a breath of fresh air compared to the triggers normally installed in hunting rifles these days.  I wish that I could install an AccuTrigger in every rifle that I own. It is that good.

There have been other advances in muzzleloading since that article of a couple of years ago. Muzzleloading bullet technology has seen the introduction of some more aerodynamic designs than were available then. Specifically, Hornady’s new SST bullet offers more downrange retained velocity and energy than most bullet designs. Comparing the SST to Hornady’s own XTP bullet, when both are started at 2300 fps muzzle velocity, the SST is going over 300 fps faster at 200 yards than the XTP, and also has a flatter trajectory, dropping two inches less at the same range. This advantage means that the SST shoots flatter, faster, and hits harder than the excellent XTP, due to the shape of the bullet.

To test the new Savage and the new SST bullets, we needed to take them on a hunt. With the muzzleloading deer season not yet opened in Tennessee, I contacted Wilderness Hunting Lodge in east Tennessee to arrange a hunt for Russian boar. The rifles had only been here about a week, and I wanted to be able to publish this article to coincide with Savage’s introduction of the AccuTrigger Muzzleloader. I was sworn to secrecy about the rifle until November 1st, but did not want to hold the information back any longer. I will be using the new rifle for this deer season as well, testing its capabilities with other bullets and loads.

Never having hunted on a private game preserve before, I was a bit apprehensive about the hunt. While needing to test the rifle on game, I did not want to just shoot a hog in a pen. I was relieved to find that the hunt at Wilderness is a real hog hunt, with the hunting area spread over a thousand acres of steep hills in thick woods. The area is most likely larger than that. When God designed much of Tennessee, he realized that he could get much more surface area to a given number of acres by making the land vertical instead of horizontal. The topography of the Wilderness hunting area fits into the vertical rocky hills category very nicely.

Arriving late on Sunday night, Cousin Melvin and I was able to locate the lodge despite darkness and a thick fog. After unloading our gear and settling into a room, we found that supper had been left on the stove for us, so there was no need to crack open a can of Spam before bedtime. Before leaving home, we had loaded ample supplies of Spam and canned peaches to get us through the winter if necessary, even though it was to only be a three day hunt at most. Not knowing what to expect in the way of meals at the lodge, we came prepared. We ended up bringing it all back home with us, as we found the food provided by the lodge to be both delicious and abundant.  We both slept very little that night in anticipation of the next day’s hunt.

Waking early the next morning, we got the rifles ready as our guides prepared breakfast. Wilderness offers several choices as to the method of hunting, allowing the hunter to use guides and dogs to locate the boar, to be placed on a stand, or to roam the hills and woods alone in search of wild boar. Me and Melvin decided to go with the latter method, to get a better feel for the lay of the land and to scout out the area for sign. (I do realize that "Me and Melvin" is grammatically incorrect, however, it just sounds better in a hunting story than "Melvin and I"). Anyway, me and Melvin wanted to hunt on our own, at our own pace. When I asked one of the guides to point us in the direction of some good boar habitat, he immediately pointed to the highest, rockiest, and furthest mountain within sight, so me and Melvin headed enthusiastically in that direction. It was soon apparent that we had definitely consumed too many eggs, sausages, and hot biscuits for breakfast, but we pushed on. In the foothills on the way to the steep climb, we saw a few hogs, mostly feral, but we were looking for the long-haired Russians, and decided to keep looking. On the way up, we glassed the woods for hogs resting beneath rocks and fallen trees, occasionally catching a glimpse of hog who had spotted us first.  The climb was rocky and steep at times, but we would stop every few steps to scan the area for any sign of a Russian boar. Some call this method still hunting, others call it stopping to gasp for air. I prefer to say that we were still hunting. After a couple of hours of still hunting and sliding on leaf-covered rocks, we arrived at the top of the hill. I somehow felt the need to plant a flag at the summit, but not having one with me, I chose to follow the lead of Cousin Melvin and collapse upon a large smooth rock to still hunt some more from a sitting position. While glassing the hillside below, we spotted a large black boar, probably a razorback, and decided to get a closer look. Easing carefully toward him, I almost stepped upon a medium sized Russian that had partially buried himself under a fencerow. The hog and I decided to go in opposite directions, as I believe that he was almost as surprised as I was. Anyhow, he took off down the steep slope and the large razorback left the area with him.

The next couple of hours found me and Melvin descending the slope, carefully trying to stay upright on the slippery footing. We happened onto the scene of an exciting few moments. It seems that another hunter had placed an arrow into the leg of a boar, and the guides had brought up the dogs to track the wounded animal. From our vantage point on the hill above the action, we had a good view of the festivities.  After the dogs had the boar cornered, the hunter chose to finish the job with a rifle. Good choice. After reaching the bottom, we hiked along the edge of the woods back to the lodge for a huge home-cooked lunch. We were both tired, but agreed that the morning was well spent and quite enjoyable. We had seen a few hogs, but none of the Russians that we were after.

After lunch, Tony Eckler, one of the guides, informed us that he had earlier spotted a few good-looking Russians in a rocky area about a third of the way up on the other side the  hill that we had hunted that morning. With any luck, they might still be in the same general area. As evening approached, Tony and Melvin took to a ridge, and I worked along the bottom about 60 yards below them. We were hoping that we could jump some hogs from hiding and send them toward each other. After a while, I spotted a lone hog heading right toward me, unaware of my position. It turned out to be a nice Russian, so I decided to take the shot. The Hornady SST entered from the right front just forward of the shoulder. The hog went down immediately. Tony estimated the weight to be about 150 pounds.  A few moments later, Melvin spotted a few Russians running together up on the ridge. Me and Tony headed that way. It was the Russians that Tony had seen earlier that morning, with a few very nice hogs in the bunch. Soon after we reached Melvin, he had a beautiful 270 pound boar on the ground. The SST performed perfectly, dropping the boar in its tracks. Cousin Melvin commented that the AccuTrigger had made all the difference, helping him to accurately place his shot right where he wanted it. His bullet was later recovered just under the gristle plate on the opposite side from where it had entered. The performance of the SST was picture perfect, mushrooming nicely while creating a large wound channel. It was indeed an exciting afternoon, but it was about to get better.

As Tony was gutting the boar and me and Melvin were happily discussing the performance of the Savage muzzleloaders and Hornady bullets, we turned to see a really pissed-off boar coming up the ridge toward us. Maybe he smelled the blood, or was just having a bad day, but he wasn’t at all happy with us being there, and was quickly getting closer. He was however, the best looking boar that I had ever seen, strutting up the ridge with every hair on his body standing straight up. Come to think of it, I think that mine was too.  Anyway, there stood Melvin and me with two brand new muzzleloaders……both unloaded! Luckily, I had a .45 Ruger Blackhawk holstered on my left hip, and the decision was made to put this boar on the ground. I drew and fired at a distance of about twenty feet. The hog took off up the hill. I thought that I had completely missed that boar, but Tony assured me that it was a good hit. He had seen dust fly off from the impact. I quickly placed another bullet into the hog, with apparently little effect! I was starting to believe that this beast was immortal. Tony called in for the other guide, Wes, to bring up the dogs, but before they arrived, we took off on a wild ride up the hill on Tony’s four-wheeler. We got up above the boar and worked our way down to him. I quickly put two more bullets into him, and he graciously did me the favor of dying. Every bullet had completely penetrated the boar. I was firing factory 300 grain Cor-Bon loads. Penetration was great, but the boar did not seem to realize the he was dead! I had killed one more hog than I had originally intended, but it was indeed a fine and definitely exciting hog hunt. Our guides loaded up the hogs and hauled them back to the meat locker, and me and Melvin started the hike back to the lodge. We arrived tired, but very satisfied with the performance of the rifles and the new Hornady bullets.

By adding the excellent AccuTrigger to their 10MLII, Savage has taken the most modern of muzzleloading rifles and made them much better. They are accurate, reliable, and more powerful than any other muzzleloader  on the market. As a bonus, they can be cleaned like any other center fire hunting rifle, without the mess associated with other muzzleloaders.

Check out the several variations of the 10MLII online at:

For anyone wanting to hunt Russian boar, I highly recommend Wilderness Hunting Lodge. It is located in the beautiful Tennessee hills, and their accommodations and services are first class.

For more information on hunting boar at Wilderness, go to:

The complete line of Hornady bullets can be found at:

Check out Ruger's Blackhawk revolvers at:

Find out more about Cor-Bon's line of premium ammunition at:

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.


The best muzzleloading rifle on the market, the Savage 10MLII, just got better with the addition of their AccuTrigger.



Top picture shows the sear, center picture shows the sear blocked by the Accu Release, and the bottom picture shows the sear released to fire. Jeff was greatly impressed by the simplicity and genius of Savage's AccuTrigger.



Hornady’s new SST bullet offers more downrange retained velocity and energy than most bullet designs. As the center bullet (which was recovered from Cousin Melvin's boar) shows, the bullets perform perfectly in the field.



Cousin Melvin with his nice Russian Boar.



Guide Tony Eckler with Jeff's sow.



Guide Wes Montooth with Jeff's beautiful Russian Boar.



Author was very happy with the performance of the Savage 10MLII, the Hornady SST bullets, the Ruger Blackhawk, and the Cor-Bon .45 Colt loads, as well as the excellent service given by Wilderness Hunting Lodge. He's also happy to have a freezer full of Russian hog meat and a nice trophy for the gun room wall!