Sports and Outdoors


 Lake Info

Normal Lake Level is 322.00 feet above Mean Sea Level.
Current level for Cedar Creek Lake is: 322.45 Water Temperature:
68  degrees - top
degrees - bottom




Don’t let neglect ruin your weapon
By Lee McClellan
Special to The Monitor

FRANKFORT, Ky.–I hunted doves with some friends the first September after I got married.
The sun burned down on us in the field and sweated poured from me down and onto my beloved 20-gauge, a Remington 870 Wingmaster LW Magnum. I bought it in 1993 after shouldering it and giving it back to the store clerk a few dozen times over the course of several weeks.
My reluctance stemmed from the gun costing $150 more than a lower-end Remington pump, but I finally succumbed.
It’s a relatively inexpensive pump, not a pricey over-and-under or high-end semi-automatic, but no gun I’ve shouldered since feels as good as that one. It’s like an old friend, and I’ve taken scores of doves, quail and rabbits with it since.
After the dove hunt, I cleaned the inside of the barrel in haste, stuck the gun in a case and shoved it in a closet. My wife and I were in the process of buying our first home, and I didn’t take the time to care for my favorite shotgun.
Late the following summer, I drove to a friend’s farm to shoot some clay pigeons to bone up for the dove opening. I slid my hand in the gun case and felt something rough.
I pulled the gun out of the case and a flash of pumpkin greeted my eyes – a coating of orange dust covered much of the receiver and barrel. My haste cost me the bluing of my much-loved 20-gauge. I felt ill.
I maintained that gun meticulously, and just the one instance of neglect bit me.
”If you have $300 in the gun or $3,000, you’ve still invested a lot of money,” said Mark Marraccini, a licensed gun dealer and executive staff advisor for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.
“Some wear and tear on a shotgun has some good memories attached. But, there is a difference between a little scratch from crossing a fence and neglect,” Marraccini added. “Neglect is neglect, and there are no good memories attached to that.”
Wipe your gun down with an oiled cotton cloth before doing anything else after hunting.
“Body oils or body salts from sweat are corrosive agents to metal,” Marraccini explained. “If you don’t take care of the gun right after you use it, then it will likely rust. It doesn’t take long for those corrosive agents to weaken the bluing on your gun.”
Marraccini, who builds pioneer-era black powder rifles by hand, explains the bluing that protects the metal surfaces of a shotgun is simply controlled rust.
“In the old flintlock rifle days, gunsmiths hung newly made barrels in a moist, warm environment and let them get a light coating of rust,” he said. “Then, they wiped them down with oil, and that was their protective coating.”
If a gun is put up in haste like mine and rust develops, options still exist.
“All is not lost,” Marraccini said. “A lot of times it’s minor. You can take a cotton gun cloth and apply gun oil to it and buff the rust lightly.
“If that doesn’t do it, take some 0000 steel wool, apply gun oil and buff,” he added. “You must go very light, or you can take the bluing off with the steel wool.”
When rust penetrates the protective coating to the bare metal, a pit develops.
“If the steel wool and oil don’t work, try some of the cold blue products on the market,” Marraccini said. “The cold blue is similar to fixing a scratch on the hood of your car with touch-up paint. It is the same color, but you can still see it.”
Deep pits in the gun metal most likely need professional help from a gunsmith.
“The gunsmith will do a complete re-bluing,” Marraccini said. “A re-blued gun looks pretty, but it actually hurts the value of the gun, and you can still tell it is not the original bluing.”
A shotgun taken into the field with any regularity will eventually acquire some dents and scratches on the wood of the stock.
“Some scratches will make it an heirloom,” Marraccini said. “Each one has a good story and memory of a nice time afield.”
Scratch repair depends on a couple of factors.
“Repairing a scratch depends on the severity of the scratch and the type of finish on the wood,” Marraccini said. “A really high-gloss finish shows everything, but you can get away with more using muted hand-rubbed finishes.”
Gun stock oils available at gun stores are made for scratch repair, but deep scratches may require sanding the stock down to bare wood and refinishing.
A dent in the wood may be lifted by steam.
“Fold an old cotton T-shirt over two or three times and get it damp,” Marraccini said. “Place the dampened T-shirt over the dent, and run the tip of a hot iron over it a few times. You want to force steam into the crumpled wood fibers and lift them up.”
If you do like I did, and make a mistake in maintenance, it’s not the end of the world. Try some of these methods to remove rust or repair a stock, but keep in mind they may not return the shotgun to the way it looked out of the box.
”There are memories of Dad or Granddad with each little bit of wear and tear,” Marraccini said. “If you want a gun that is going to stay perfect, put in a shadow box and hang it on the wall.”
Author Lee McClellan is an award-winning associate editor for Kentucky Afield magazine, the official publication of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. He is a life-long hunter and angler, with a passion for smallmouth bass fishing.


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