Despite the ever-growing popularity of wielding a bow in the deer woods, the majority of hunters, especially the older generations, still carry a gun. And many of those same gun toters vary what they carry throughout the season: muzzleloader, slug gun or rifle. Then there’s the good chance that most spend at least a day or two in the duck blind, the pheasant fields and at the base of a giant oak sniping squirrels with a .22. Needless to say, that’s several long firearms to care for, and knowing how to store guns long term is a sound practice once the hunting season ends.

Give ‘Em a Good Cleaning

It’s not imperative that you clean your deer gun after each time you hunt. In fact, you may have noticed over the years that deer don’t particularly love the smells of powder solvent and breech plug grease. If you drop it in the mud or get caught in a steady downpour, that’s another story - wipe it down with an oily rag. Most of the rifle gurus even suggest leaving your rifle outside on very cold days rather than taking them in a warm cabin where they’ll “sweat,” the moisture of the cabin speeding up the onslaught of rust, which also leads to inaccuracy.

When the season closes, however, it’s time to get particular about these very important tools in order to keep meat in the freezer year in and year out. Break down the gun as best you can without needing gunsmith training to put it back together. Remove the bolt from a rifle, the breech plug from a muzzleloader and break down a slug gun to access the places you wouldn’t normally take the time to clean. You can purchase gun cleaning kits online that carry the components to fit any firearm. Hoppe’s #9 is our go-to powder solvent. Nothing beats the smell!

Where to Store

As firearm safety becomes increasingly important, many hunters have moved to storing their guns in a safe. Plus, should a fire break out in your home, your most prized assets will be protected. Modern day safe manufacturers have done a great job of building humidity regulated storage units to protect not only guns but also jewelry, paper documents and other important items from moisture damage. Long term storage like this can be fine, just make sure to check in every so often to make sure nothing is amiss. 

Then there’s the old-fashioned gun cabinet that so many of us still relish. How long guns can be stored in this way will depend on how often you are willing to check in on them. A gun cabinet doesn't protect your firearm from the environment as well as other methods might. Still, how else can you show off the wood grains and hand engravings of that custom rifle you saved to buy 30 years ago? If the gun cabinet is your means of storage, we’d suggest running an oilcloth over each firearm once a month. It’ll help the wood keep its sheen and the metal from rusting.

Before You Shoot

Before you know it, another spring and summer have passed. Deer season is just weeks away and it’s time to make sure your gun-and-scope combination remains true to its nature. Before you start running rounds through it, be sure to give it another thorough cleaning to remove any excess oil or grease that may linger in the barrel, breech or action. This will help avoid misfires and errant shots, and remove lingering smells that wave danger flags in the faces of all big game animals.

Always ready.

Right now we’re dealing with the lull. The turkey opener is weeks away, and with its approach, the same rules apply: get that tight-patterned, hard-kicking shotgun out of the safe and run it through a preseason inspection. We know that guns are built with durability in mind while also remembering that everything has a life. The more tender, love and care, the longer it’ll perform when you need it.