Ask Petzal: Nicknaming Deer, Hearing Protection, and the Ferrari of Dangerous Game Guns

David E. Petzal answers your questions about guns, shooting, hunting, and life

ask david e. petzal big game hunting
“Need’s got nothing to do with it.”Mark Matcho

Q: I love African dangerous-game rifles, though I will never be able to afford to go to Africa. People always ask me why I need a gun like that. How would you respond? _—Craig Shelton, Denton, Texas

A: You ain't alone, buster. I do too. My best answer is to paraphrase William Munny in Unforgiven: "Need's got nothing to do with it." Do you need a Ferrari that develops 660 hp? Do you need a plain steel Rolex watch that costs $5,000? Do you need a Fabbri shotgun for $250,000? Of course not. Would you turn one down because you don't need it? Of course not.

Q: What do you think of hunters nicknaming their quarry? Have you ever done it? —Mike Sunderland, Atlanta, GA.

A: It's called anthropomorphism, the ascribing of ­human characteristics to animals, and is practiced by primitive ­cultures, such as hunting and fishing shows on television. I've never done it, and I think it's about as idiotic as zombies.

Q: Have you worn ear protection throughout your life, and how good is your hearing today? —Bryon Bradley, Richland, Wash.

A: I got my first rifle in 1956, started shooting on an organized basis in 1958, and served in the Army from 1963 until 1969. None of this involved ear protection because no one wore it back then. Today I wear hearing aids, and even with them I'm often unable to understand people. My degree of hearing loss is characterized as "moderately severe." The next step, "severe," means no hearing left at all.

Q: Which is a better deer gun for the deep woods of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, the Ruger 77/44 or Marlin 336 in .30/30? —Cameron Zandstra, Highland, Ind.

A: You could literally toss a coin. If there are two rifles more ideally suited to the job, I don't know what they might be. If you already have both and are wondering which to carry, go with the one you shoot better.

Q: What do you think of specially coated bullets that are supposed to break-in your rifle barrel? —Keith Beachy, Lancaster, Pa.

A: I've never used them, but I've heard people whose opinion I respect speak highly of David Tubbs' Final Finish bullet kits. If you're thinking of moly, don't. I'd rather pee down a barrel.

Q: Is 75 yards a reasonable max for whitetails with a Ruger Super Redhawk .44 mag with a 5½-inch barrel? What optic should I use? —Rob Friske, Cashton, Wis.

A: Seventy-five yards is a perfectly reasonable max. I've ­always had better results from a handgun with a red-dot sight than with any scope. Less shaking.

Q: My buddy swears every time he misses an ­animal that it's because a "twig" redirected his bullet. What do you think?John H., Round Lake, Ill.

A: A good shot will generally admit that he screwed up. The odds are that the average twig blaster is a lousy shot.

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