Ask Petzal: The effect of copper bullets on gun bores, dry skin during duck season, and haunted hunting camps
David E. Petzal answers your questions about guns, shooting, hunting, and life
Q: My buddy swears that our hunting camp is haunted, and it’s freaking me out. Do you think that’s possible? Would you hunt in a haunted camp? —Dalton Peterson, Pittsburgh, Pa.
A: It depends on the ghost in question. If you have one who was a good guy in life, why not? Might add to the fun. On the other hand, who needs another son of a bitch, even if he’s a dead son of a bitch?
Q: When I shoot, I can’t place the sights or crosshairs on the center of the target. I hold under and raise them up. If I am dry-firing, I have no problem. I am sure the problem is between my ears. Thoughts? —Rick Atwell, via email
A: I think you do need a checkup from the neck up; after all, why wouldn’t this happen during dry-firing? To cure it, get a .22 rimfire, get close to the target, and shoot up mass quantities of ammo, pulling the trigger the instant the sights are on the black. Forget about trigger squeeze. Go ahead and yank. You’d be surprised how accurate this technique can be.
Q: My brother says the barrel of my Savage 99 .308 is on its last leg. Is it possible to rebarrel without turning the rifle into something it wasn’t meant to be? —Luke Weaver, Sears, Mich.
A: I am suspicious of your brother’s death sentence on the rifle’s barrel. It takes about 5,000 rounds to wear out a .308, and that’s a ton of shooting for a hunting rifle. More likely, it just needs a good cleaning. Get a jar of J-B Bore Cleaning Compound and have at it. I mean scrub. That said, if the bore is indeed worn out, you can rebarrel to the original specs with no problem.
Q: I work in Iraq, and the desert weather plays hell on my skin. When I return to Tennessee for duck season, would I be sacrificing any manliness by using a black charcoal facial exfoliant instead of my usual burnt cork or face paint? —Evan Rowe, via email
A: No problem with facial exfoliant, whatever that is. But just to be on the safe side, omit the eyeliner and lipstick.
Q: Two questions: First, do you have a favorite poem? Second, if you had youth, strength, and stamina back, what critter would you next hunt? —Alex Wolson, Burlington, Iowa
A: My favorite poem is “Danny Deever,” by Rudyard Kipling, who is my favorite poet. If I were again in the full flower of my manhood, I would go hunt elk. I’ve always had an unhealthy fascination with the awful beasts.
Q: Is it harder to get a rifle’s bore truly clean if you shoot copper bullets? —Anthony D’agostino, Billings, Mont.
A: I’ve often wondered about this myself. In theory, pure copper should foul worse than copper alloy because it’s softer and “smears” the rifling. In real life, the more important factor seems to be how smooth or rough the bore is.