Ask Petzal: Buffalo Plaid? Red or Green?

Loden vs Plaid
Our rifles editor dishes on backup handguns, big fish, and fashion secrets.Mark Matcho

David E. Petzal answers your questions about guns, shooting, hunting, and life. Got a question for our rifles editor? Send it to askpetzal@fieldandstream.com. We cannot guarantee polite answers to all questions.

Q: Buffalo plaid? Red or green?Kevin Collins, Concord, N.H.

A: Never. Neither. It marks you as one of the common folk. When I can get it, I favor loden, which is worn by people of taste and discernment such as myself.

Q: Between you and your great colleague, Phil Bourjaily, who is more skilled at the other's shooting discipline?Jacob Honeycutt, Orem, Utah

A: I have absolutely no idea. I've never seen Phil shoot a rifle, and he's never seen me shoot a shotgun. However, I am better looking, speak six languages, and play eight musical instruments.

Q: Wise and Enlightened Dave: I would like to have a backup handgun for dangerous game. What cali­ber do you recommend?Henry Aldaz, Denver, Colo.

A: I'm not a believer in backup handguns for dangerous game. They're not nearly as powerful as a big rifle, and unless you piss ice water in times of mortal danger, they're too hard to hit with. I know of an Alaska guide who tried to stop a grizzly with a .44 magnum, and he believes he and his client would have been killed if the client hadn't had a .338 Win. Mag. and known how to use it.

Q: Is my .270 with 130-​grain ammo too much for coyotes and foxes if I want to sell the pelts?Cody Obermiller, Willow Springs, N.C.

A: If you stick to tough, ­controlled-​­expanding bullets, it should be O.K. I've shot a number of coyotes with these slugs, and they didn't do a lot of damage to the hides.

Q: For hunting the timber in Vermont, do I really need a magnified ­optic?Andy Gagner, Starksboro, VT.

A: I have hunted in Vermont and can attest that there are lots of places where you can get by just fine without Xs. If you're not a fan of magnification, I'd get a red dot. There's nothing iron sights do that optics won't do better.

Q: Do you ever go fishing? What's your most memorable catch? —Derrick Haan, Carlisle, PA.

A: Over the years I have done a great deal of fishing, but I never got good at it. My most memorable fish was a giant ulua (trevally) that I hooked at Midway Atoll. They get as big as 170 pounds, and this thing was like a nuclear submarine. I fought him forever and finally got him alongside the boat, where he broke off.

Q: I have a desire to go elk hunting that strongly coincides with my desire to own a .338 Win. Mag. My buddies think it's too much gun. What do you think?Chris McKinny, via email

A: I think you need new buddies. The .338 is one of the best elk cartridges ever.