Ask Petzal: Small Bucks and Elk Wisdom

Our rifles editor answers your questions about guns, shooting, hunting, and life

Ask Petzal
What did the door in your college dorm sound like?Mark Matcho

Q: The door to the hallway in my college dorm has a creaky hinge that sounds exactly like a bugling elk every time it swings slowly shut. Is this a sign I should act on?Eli Davis, silver spring, Md.

A: Yes, it is. Proceed immediately to the infirmary, or the wellness center, or whatever they call it, and ask to be heavily sedated. It will do you a world of good in the long run.

Q: I've been told that the .17 HMR is too powerful for squirrels but won't kill a coyote. What the hell is this gun's purpose, then? —*Travis Bruski, Alpena, Mich. *

A: I am not a fan of the .17s, having shot them off and on since 1976. They're too destructive for small game, and marginal for coyotes. Their purpose is to sell rifles and ammunition to people who are looking for something different.

Q: I revere your words just beyond scripture, so tell me why I shouldn't buy a .257 Weatherby for deer, antelope, and elk in a pinch? —D. DeLozier, smithville, Mo.

A: Verily, I speak unto thee, saying the .257 was Roy Weatherby's favorite of all his cartridges, and I've owned three and liked them a whole bunch, so bless your heart, go ahead and buy one. I favor the 120-grain Nosler Partition loading; you can hunt anything with it.

Q: On paper, the 6.5 Creedmoor splits hairs with the 7mm/08. What makes the 6.5 better?Mack Everette, Eastern N.C.

A: First, 6.5mm—and the Creedmoor in particular—is very trendy now. This means that the makers of ammo and components are producing very high-quality cases and bullets for it. Second, the ballistic coefficients of a great many 6.5 bullets are extremely high, making them superior for long-range shooting.

Q: What's your smallest whitetail buck that you are the most proud of taking?Joe Harman, Auburn Hills, Mich.

A: It was a 150-pound 4-point that I snuck up on in powdery snow on a ridge in Montana where he was bedded down. He jumped, but I hit him on the run from about 10 feet. Then I dragged him through a half mile of squaw wood by myself. I was proud. I was also a lot younger.

Q: If you could give the 18-​year-​old version of yourself one piece of firearms-­related advice, what would it be? For myself, it would be to buy half as many firearms and twice as much ammunition.Jordan Davis, Beckley, W.V.

A: First, stop giving advice. You're 18. More important, here's some general wisdom that applies to firearms and everything else. If you're as lucky as I have been, you'll meet people who will help you out of pure kindness. I met many of these folks, and I never thanked them adequately because I assumed there would be time to later. There never was, and I will go to my own grave regretting what I did not do.