David E. Petzal answers your questions about guns, shooting, hunting, and life. Got a question for our rifles editor? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We cannot guarantee polite answers to all questions.
Q: A friend wants to bring his dog to deer camp. I say the dog scent will linger and chase away deer. The dog nut disagrees. So, who is right? —Matt Begich, Hastings, Minn.
A. I don’t think the scent is a problem because the dog probably doesn’t smell any worse than you and your friend. The barking will not help, however, and some dogs go nuts around deer. He should leave the hound at home, or you should look for new friends.
Q: Will my grandfather’s old .35 Remington pump be enough gun for my first black bear hunt? —Luke Seedorff, Battle Creek, Mich.
A: The .35 Remington is one of the most effective cartridges around, and you need have no worries about bashing a bruin with it.
Q: Can I use my .270 Win. on elk out to 300 yards? —Devon Mathewson, Kansas City, MO.
A: You can use a .270 on elk out to 301 yards, or a lot farther than that if you want. I killed an elk in Wyoming at what was probably upwards of 500 yards with a .270. I say probably because the snow was chest-deep and we couldn’t pace off the distance.
Q: I just shot 1⁄2-inch groups using factory ammo—with a $400 rifle! Have we reached the zenith of rifle technology? —Jim White, via e-mail
A: We’ve reached a new plateau for sure, but in this century I look forward to something altogether new, not based on gunpowder. Or maybe rocks and spears, depending on how things work out.
Q: If you could only have one knife for everything, from survival to skinning to whittling, what would it be? —Ris Walling, Anderson, Ind.
A: No one knife can really do it all well. But if I were put to it, I’d say that the Russell Canadian Belt Knife, the tool-steel version, can do a passable all-around job.
Q: What’s the best factory .45/70 ammo for whitetails? —Lester Spell Jr., Richland, Miss.
A: If you’re sticking to whitetails, I’d go with Hornady LeverEvolution ammo with the 325-grain Flex-Tip bullet. It’s very accurate and quick expanding, and if you happen to get a long shot, it shoots pretty flat, considering.
Q: Should I get a survival takedown rifle? You know, just in case? —Sully Jameson, Knoxville, Tenn.
A: In these troubled times, I think a survival rifle makes a lot more sense than a Safe Space, whatever the hell that is. I’ve never been a fan of takedowns, however. The ones I’ve shot have not been as accurate as conventional rifles, and why introduce mechanical weaknesses into a gun? If you’re looking for something short and handy, with all the other qualifications, get a Ruger Gunsite Scout rifle with the 16.10-inch barrel.
Q: If any actor, dead or alive, could play you in Gun Nut: The David E. Petzal Story, who would you prefer? —Keith Cullen, New Paltz, N.Y.
A: I think I’ve answered this one before, but so what? Brad Pitt is the obvious choice. The physical resemblance is uncanny, and he seems able to capture my particular brand of madcap charm.