BARNEVELD — The 2019 gun deer season opens Nov. 23, six days later than the 2018 season opened. But time is going fast.
Now’s the time to begin preparation.
Adrian Alan, range manager at Vortex Optics and a former officer in the Madison Police Department, believes from experience that the moment a hunter comes inside from the last day’s hunt is the time to begin thinking about next year.
“Don’t just put the rifle in a case, zip it up and leave it until next year,” Alan said. “If the gun was exposed to moisture or it’s coming in out of the cold and condensation ... then problems can begin.”
Safety first, even before the cleaning begins.
Unload, remove or empty the magazine, double-check the chamber to make sure it’s empty.
If the rifle was not fired at all, make sure it’s wiped down, Alan said, or go directly to cleaning the gun as though it has been fired at targets and deer during the nine days.
“Shooters can over-clean a gun, however. Carbon and copper in the barrel do not cause rust; moisture causes rust,” Alan said.
When cleaning, begin by removing the bolt, particularly if it’s a bolt-action gun, and wipe the bolt down with cleaning solvent. Run several patches down the barrel, starting at the breach end, never the muzzle end, so the barrel crown is not damaged.
If the barrel has not been cleaned in a while or if it has been shot through numerous times, send a brush with solvent pushed through the barrel, followed by wet patches and dry patches.
“The inside doesn’t have to be white-glove clean,” Alan said.
If the gun has been exposed to moisture, and the stock can be removed, lightly oil all the metal surfaces.
Make sure the torque on the action is correct when putting the gun together.
A light all-in-one oil is OK, but do not oil the wood. Check the wood for cracks and other parts for wear, particularly the extractor.
Store the gun in an area not conducive to rusting, in a gun safe if humidity won’t build up, but not in a zipped case. Open-air circulation is okay or a gun safe. Think cool and dry, which usually does not mean a basement unless the humidity is controlled.
Scopes should be checked. Use compressed air or a soft brush to dust off the lenses followed by a soft microfiber cloth after a breath of moist air. Cover the ends with caps or lens-end clothes.
Trigger mechanisms are usually more complicated to take apart and clean and are best left to a gunsmith.
Check the gun periodically during the offseason for rust or dust buildup. If caught soon enough, very, very fine steel wool with a drop of oil can usually take the rust off.
“The time goes by quickly during the offseason, so checking periodically and not leaving major problems go until the last minute before preseason sighting-in works best,” Alan said.
Next October, attend a supervised sighting-in session to catch hidden problems.
A properly working gun can make a season successful.