Your bags are packed, and the taxidermist is on hold. You’re ready to bag that buck of a lifetime while hunting with a brand-new muzzleloader. All that’s left is to sight in that whitetail gun and make sure it’s "on."
Wrong. Before taking that first shot, answer one question: Did you clean it first?
That’s right, that gun needs to be cleaned and seasoned before anything else.
I was reminded of this wise gun-care tip the other day while talking with friend Cory Johnson, who operates a small pro shop in central Wisconsin.
"A lot of guys automatically think they’re gun is ready to go because it’s new," he said. "But most of those new muzzleloaders oftentimes have residue in the barrels that needs to be removed for optimal performance."
The above photo is a prime example of what to expect. I took this photo after running several Quick Clean Patches through the new CVA Accura that I will be shooting in Canada next month. I’m only assuming the streaks on the cleaning patches are from residue from the milling process.
Another bit of advice is to "season" a new barrel after cleaning it for the first time. This is kind of like seasoning a new frying pan. In short, take some "bore butter" and spread it thinly on a dry patch. Run the patch down the barrel, then follow up with a clean, dry patch. This is supposed to provide a smooth, healing effect once the gun is fired.
I won’t be able to shoot the gun now for a few days (it’s been raining here since the weekend), but I will be more confident at the range knowing that I am starting from scratch with a clean gun.
Then it will be time to put this muzzleloader to the test on a big buck.