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.
Do you have a good tag-soup recipe? —Stan Kemmerer, Spring Creek, Nev.
A: The best tag-soup recipe I know of came from the late Larry Koller, a formidable hunter and outdoor chef. (This version serves four.)
As many tags as possible, shredded medium-fine
- 2 quarts water, if possible containing some industrial effluent
- 4 oz. crow meat, shredded
- 1 tsp. gall
- 1 tsp. wormwood
- Boil ingredients for 15 minutes, let cool, serve with humble pie. Enjoy!
Q: Any tips for how I can shoot a bigger buck than my father-in-law? —Justin Clouthier, Ottawa, Ontario
A: My suggestion is to lock him in a closet, and then go deer hunting. That way, whatever you get will be bigger. Just keep in mind that he may want payback.
Q: Is it O.K. to clean my rifle’s bore with patches cut from an old T-shirt? —Tom Kleist, Eagle Lake, Minn.
A: Cut-up tees make fine gun patches, and they’re also very good for spit-shining jump boots, in case you have a pair of those. Feel free to continue using them.
Q: Why is it that so many rifles these days come with a 24-inch barrel for non-magnum cartridges?—Jacob Claussen, Little Canada, Minn.
A: Fashions come and go, and right now, the fashionable barrel length for rifles chambered for standard-length cartridges is 24 inches. Also, if you make 26-inch barrels for the magnums and 24-inch tubes for non-magnums, you can use the same-length stock for both, and it won’t look bad.
Q: Is it in poor taste to put a silencer on a classic wood-stocked rifle? —Eric M., Richmond, Va.
A: It may be in poor taste, but it is by-God practical, and I’d do it in a heartbeat if I had any hearing left to protect.
Q: How far would you shoot at an elk with a .30/30? Would I be crazy to take mine on my next hunt? —Levi Barber, Conifer, Colo.
A: I think the .30/30 is no more than a 200-yard rifle, but it has taken untold numbers of elk. If it’s the only gun you have, you can take it with no fear of having a net thrown over you.
Q: What kind of BB gun did you have as a kid, and did you shoot anything you weren’t supposed to? —Chip Garrett, Abilene, Texas
A: I had both pump- and lever-action BB guns but did very little killing with them. That waited until I got a good air rifle. I was unsupervised and did a lot of shooting I shouldn’t have, which I regret to this day.
Q: Do you have any rifles that are not for sale at any price? —Ralph L. Innes, Poplar Bluff, Miss.
A: I have three: a plain .280 that was built for me by Jim Carmichel; a very fancy .300 Weatherby that was stocked and engraved by Winston G. Churchill; and a 7mm Weatherby Magnum that was restocked by Griffin & Howe in the ’70s and went all over the world with me before I retired it. I go first, then they go.