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An online space for outdoorsmen from CNY and beyond. Tell us about the one you caught or the one that got away.

Friday, December 16, 2011

'Tis the season to clean your guns

Deer season has ended and you have carefully cared for your guns and stored them properly. Or have you? Perhaps you just put them away safely, but with the pressures of the busy holiday season, you did not clean or lubricate them properly. You have a sizable investment in your guns and to protect that investment you need to make sure they receive the proper care, including a thorough cleaning.

Your gun is more likely to be damaged from abuse and neglect than overuse. Care for it properly when you are finished and be sure that it is stored correctly. Remember that guns are prone to corrosion and rust in storage as well as in the field.

Never put away a damp, or even cold, gun into a carrying case and leave it in the closet. Moisture will cause rust which will destroy the bluing and even pit the metal. At least make sure the gun is room temperature and dry it before putting it in its case.

Guns that have been fired should be cleaned prior to storage. This involves cleaning the bore and the action with lubricant and cleaner. The action should be cleaned using a toothbrush and cleaner. Use a light lubricant and wipe it down before storage.

A lot of people know that the gun should be cleaned but put the chore off and manage to forget about it. Fouling will quickly cause pitting that will eat away at the smooth inside bore of your shotgun or the rifling grooves of your rifle.

It may not be obvious, but there will be a smooth residue of burnt powder, copper, and lead inside of your barrel.

Get a proper cleaning kit with a quality rod for the caliber or gauge of your gun. Vinyl coated rods are the best because they won't cause wear on barrels or chambers. You will also need a quality cleaning solvent, possibly some special solvents such as copper shot remover and lubricant.

Insert the patch soaked in solvent and push from the receiver end towards the muzzle whenever possible to force solvent out the muzzle.

Remove the brush or patch before making the next pass. Wipe the rod after each pass to remove gritty residue. Once the inside of the bore is thoroughly saturated, use the brush on shotguns to remove dirt and residue in a straight motion.

Keep using fresh patches to remove all residue until the patches pass through and emerge clean. When the barrel is clean and dry, lubricate it using gun oil on a clean patch or a spray lubricant such as Rust Prevent.

For shotguns, one of the handiest ways is to use a wooden dowel of proper diameter to push the patch through. Use the same procedure of pushing solvent through then removing it with clean patches. If you use the wooden dowel, you can use an absorbent paper towel folded and rolled to bore filling diameter as a cleaning patch.

Clean the gun by pushing from receiver end to muzzle whenever possible to minimize the possibility of residue getting into the action. On double barrel shotguns etc., just open the breech. For bolt action guns, just remove the bolt. On many shotguns such as pumps with interchangeable barrels, remove the barrel for cleaning.

Use a rest to hold the firearm steady while working a cleaning rod through it . The rest should be padded to protect the gun's finish and it should be designed so that the muzzle is lower than the receiver, which allows solvent to drain out through the muzzle.

Some people have mentioned that they have trouble getting their modern shotguns clean. Often the problem is that many of them are back-bored. This means that the rear part of the barrel, nearest the receiver is actually bored larger than normal. For example many 12 gauge guns actually have a 10 gauge rear section of bore. This is to accommodate the heavier loads with more powder, shot, etc. in the larger magnum sizes.

The answer is to use a cleaning brush, etc. one size larger. For example use a 10 gauge brush on a 12 gauge gun that is backbored. Use quality solvents and follow the process described earlier.

One of the best solutions to cleaning your guns is a kit made by Otis Technology. They utilize a cable to pull various brushes and patches through the barrel, as well as manufacturing superior solvents and lubricants.

Check out:

The products are made nearby in Lyons Falls and the company has won numerous awards for its business ethics, treatment of employees and involvement in the community.

If rust has formed on the surface of the finish or in some hard to reach spots like the sights, etc., put a few drops of solvent on a toothbrush or use an old hard rubber typewriter eraser to remove the rust.

Do not leave paper towels, rags, etc. stuffed in the muzzle of the gun while storing because it can be dangerous if you forget they are there. At the very least it will probably attract and keep moisture which will eventually cause rust.

So whether for greater accuracy, protecting your investment or just rewarding a faithful friend, taking good care of your guns includes a thorough cleaning.


REMEMBER LANDOWNERS: At any time of year, but especially now with the end of hunting season and the onset of the holidays it is appropriate to remember the landowners who let you use their property with some gift. Some small gift will show your appreciation for them letting you hunt or fish on their property. It also helps mark you as a considerate and responsible sportsman and may go a long way towards getting permission to hunt or fish there again next year.

START SCOUTING NOW: Last weekend, Terry Yardley asked Dick Cooper what he was going to do now that deer season was over. “Scouting Season starts tomorrow,” Cooper said with a smile.

It is a good idea to get out and start scouting for next year’s deer season as soon as possible before snow gets too deep. The main deer trails stand out like road maps in the early winter woods and even secondary trails are very visible. Rubs and scrapes from this season are also easily seen until the snow covers them. You can also identify cover types, feeding patterns, travel corridors and terrain much easier when the leaves are off and the weeds like goldenrod are fallen down.

It is now easier to get into deep brush where big bucks live and figure out their home area and travel or escape routes. You may spook them, but it is a long time until next deer season and it will certainly not disrupt patterns or locations.

In many areas where the snow piles up deep, deer will move from the higher elevations into low lands or creek bottoms to escape winds and higher snow levels. Evergreens provide cover and food sources in winter. By checking the hillsides or tops of higher elevations, you can find where deer normally are in October.

It is a good time to pick out locations for tree stands, perhaps do some trimming or even set up a stand if you are on private land. It is an excuse to get outside, satisfy your curiosity and collect valuable information that may pay dividends next year.

A PET BY ANY OTHER NAME: Many of you probably have “pet names” or nicknames for your cats and dogs. And you probably refer to them as pets. But the Journal of Animal Ethics says that the term pet is derogatory.

The journal, produced by the University of Illinois and the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, is obviously on the fringe of animal rights wackos, and says that you should call your pets “companion animals.” They go on to say this is seen as, “the advancement of progressive thought about animals.” They also say that you, as a pet owner, should be called a “human carer” and wild animals should be categorized as “free-living animals” rather than wildlife.

Obviously there is more lunacy in their thought process and corollary suggestions, but I have to go and give my cat some attention since he is meowing, or should I say, “making a verbal response.” I thought we could all enjoy a chuckle, and it does serve a useful purpose in reminding us that some people should not forget to take their medication!

COYOTE HUNT: Save the dates of January 6–8 for the Bob Evans Memorial Predator Calling Hunt with cash prizes and proceeds to benefit Advanced Strategies for physically challenged sportsmen. Details to come.


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