“I always make sure my gun is good and oiled beforehand if I’m expecting rain,” said Dave Frederick, a deer and waterfowl hunter as well as a wildlife biologist with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “You can save yourself a lot of work by making sure it’s well-oiled before hunting.”
Frederick cautions hunters not to over-oil their guns, as this can cause the action to stick. But a light coating of oil will help protect a gun from the elements.
“I use a good oil with Teflon, to help bead up the water and protect the metal,” he said. “Afterwards, usually when I’m duck hunting in the rain, I’ll pull it apart and dry it off.”
Muzzleloader hunters who leave the field with a wet gun should pull the stock and barrel apart and dry both. Water can get between the stock and barrel and quickly lead to rust. Hunters should not put a wet gun in a case.
“That will cause the gun to rust that much faster,” said John Brunjes, a waterfowl hunter and Kentucky Fish and Wildlife migratory bird biologist. “Not only that, your gun case will also get wet. Then you’ll be getting the gun wet over and over when you put it in the case.”
Guns can sometimes get completely submerged in water during a waterfowl hunt. This is one instance when a wipe down with light oil won’t get the job done.
“If you drop your gun down in water, you need to quickly take it apart and clean it,” Brunjes advised. “If it’s just a light rain or a splash, you can wait until you get home to break it down.”
It’s a good idea to wipe down a wood gunstock, using the same lightly-oiled rag used for the barrel. Wood stocks are finished with a sealant, but over time the sealant will break down.
“If you keep a thin layer of oil on the stock, it will help keep water out,” said Frederick. “I always wipe my stock down. You’re just adding oil to the wood to give it a little bit of water resistance.”
Synthetic gunstocks don’t need any special care when they get wet. Hunters who spend a lot of time in wet conditions may want to go a step further and consider having their entire gun dipped in a synthetic coating. For less than $150, you’ll end up with a gun that is practically waterproof.
Late muzzleloader deer season runs Dec. 13-21 statewide. Zone 4 deer hunters should note that only antlered deer are legal for harvest Dec. 13-18 in that deer zone, while either sex deer may be taken Dec. 19-21. For complete deer hunting regulations, including bag limits, equipment restrictions and hunter education requirements, pick up a copy of the 2008-09 Kentucky Hunting & Trapping Guide.
Most waterfowl seasons are currently open. For complete waterfowl hunting regulations, including season dates, zones and bag limits, check the 2008-09 Kentucky Hunting Guide for Waterfowl. Regulation guides are available wherever hunting licenses are sold.
Author Hayley Lynch is an award-winning writer for Kentucky Afield magazine, the official publication of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. She is an avid hunter and shotgun shooter.