Gun cleaning is something you enjoy or you don't. Some wingshooters just seem to appreciate a clean gun more than others. The same is true for target shooters. These folks regularly break down their guns and clean them, much as a jeweler polishes a fine diamond.

For them, nothing less than a spotless firearm — or weapon — will do.

(Digression, here. Firearms generally refer to sporting guns used to kill game. "Weapons,'' by contrast, more commonly are military in nature.)

If you're among those who time after time returns home from hunting and throws your firearm in a safe or other place without cleaning it, you might want to periodically have a professional break down your gun and scrub it thoroughly.

Pros have the tools and know-how not only to clean a gun well, but to re-assemble it correctly.

Bob Everson, the gunsmith at Joe's Sporting Goods in St. Paul, sees my guns — the semi-autos, anyway — at least once a year.

After the season and before a gun is stored is always a good time to have it cleaned. But right now — assuming you've done a fair bit of shooting this fall — is another good time. This, after all, is when you need a clean, fault-free gun — when you're still shooting in a season, for both pheasants and ducks, in which the best appears yet to come.

Speaking of which: Last weekend, while I was not seeing much for roosters amid all the standing corn, I was noticing a fair number of ducks in southwest Minnesota. I could only assume the weather over the weekend blew in some ducks from out of state.

If so, the influx wasn't too widespread. Waterfowlers I talked to from Morris up to Ashby, down to Alexandria and elsewhere reported fairly slim pickings.

The metro, however, had increased numbers of mallards, it seemed, by Sunday morning.

Which by then was all the more reason to have a gun that was clean and working properly.

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