[su_heading size=”30″]Tactics, tips and a passel of great gear for your upcoming battles with Mr. Gobbler. [/su_heading]
STORY AND PHOTOS BY LARRY CASE
A selection of Undertaker calls from HS Strut.
[su_dropcap style=”light”]T[/su_dropcap]he wild turkey is an American bird right down to his red, white and blue head. You may recall that shortly after we had that little scuffle with the British a few hundred years ago, Ben Franklin himself wanted to make the wild turkey our national bird. Thank heaven ol’ Ben was outvoted on this particular idea. Imagine the wild turkey as a completely protected species. We would be forced to hunt something else, like maybe the bald eagle. Hunting eagles wouldn’t be much fun, and I sincerely doubt they are anywhere near as tasty.
But even if it had never ﬂirted with a highfalutin yet largely ceremonial government title, the wild turkey would remain unique among game birds. We don’t hunt any other feathered creature the way we hunt turkeys, with the basic premise being sitting and attempting to call them into shotgun range. Their habits and wariness, coupled with ultra-keen eyesight and hearing create a need for the use of hunting tactics and equipment that we apply to no other type or breed of fowl. Herewith are some strategies and gobblerappropriate gear for you to consider for your next feathered frenzy.
HS Strut’s Triple Trauma call has an adjustable lid that allows you to mimic three different hens.
CALLING TURKEYS HAS BECOME the most overrated, mystifying, and downright lied about phase of turkey hunting. Some supposed experts claim that calling comprises only about 30 percent of what is needed to seal the deal with a gobbler, maybe less. I could argue with that ﬁgure, but if you are a beginner, you will need to ﬁnd a call that you are comfortable with. I would go with a box call or a slate friction-type call. Learn to make the simple yelp of a hen turkey and maybe the cluck to begin with, and that will give you a strong start.
Don’t worry about doing 14 different calls like the guys on TV. If a turkey is ready to be called in, sometimes a couple yelps and a cluck or two is all that is necessary. Let the guys at the calling contests do all the fancy stuff; you are out in the woods to shoot turkeys. Give the gobbler just enough to keep him interested. If he is coming toward you, quit calling. Less is sometimes better than more.
Nomad’s Rip Stop shirt in Mossy Oak Obsession.
Whether you call more or less, you still need a call. And, friends, there are a lot of turkey calls out there. There are many good ones that will call turkeys most days. Prices run from really cheap to what you might shell out on the down payment of a nice truck. HS Strut offers several moderately priced box calls that work; they sound like a turkey. What I like about the Undertaker box call is it features an abrasive, waterproof surface on the paddle and the striking surfaces of the call. If you have ever been aﬁeld and have your favorite box call get soaked and rendered useless, you know what a great feature this is. MSRP is $39.99. The new Triple Trauma box call has an adjustable lid that allows you to change the tone of the call and mimic three different hens. MSRP is $29.99, and you can contact them via their website (hunterspec.com).
Nomad’s Rip Stop pants in Mossy Oak Bottomland features the National Wild Turkey Federation logo on the side pocket.
Finally, the new Hensanity call from Primos offers a couple new twists to a tried-and-true form of turkey call. (Editor’s note: This was featured in last month’s News column.) The body of the call or “pot” has four sound ports that you control with your hand and allows you to make a wide array of variations in your calling. The frictionite surface means you don’t have to worry about losing your sandpaper to rough up the call. MSRP is $29.99, and you can ﬁnd more information from Primos (primos.com). WHEN TURKEYS HAVE SEEMINGLY quit talking (they will do this often during any given season), sometimes the best thing to do is to get really aggressive. Cinch up your boots, call like you mean it, and cover as much real estate as possible. Go to your listening place and use your locator crow or owl call; if you hear nothing, try the turkey calls. Get assertive with a lot of loud calling, cuts and cackles. If no gobbler responds, move on to the next spot. One down side of this method, of course, is sometimes the gobbler shows up for a date after you leave. You can deal with it; if you hear him gobble at your last stop, get back over there.
The opposite of the marathon runner with a shotgun technique is to simply wait them out. If you know the place you are hunting well and you know the turkeys are there, maybe you just want to sit tight. Find a good spot to call from and set up camp. Get comfortable, call every 15 or 20 minutes, and by all means take a nap if you want to. A word of caution on the nap thing: You need to be ready for the dreaded “come in silent” gobbler. These are the turkeys that never say a word, slip in on you and don’t gobble. And a turkey with these antisocial tendencies needs to be taken out of the gene pool.
The three-pack flock of Strut Lite decoys from HS Strut feature a semistrutting jake, a feeding hen and a breeding hen.
But no matter if you run and gun or sit on your hindquarters all day, you still need durable camouﬂage clothing that is functional for turkey hunting. Nomad performance hunting apparel has partnered with the National Wild Turkey Federation to create a line of premium performance fabrics that feature the NWTF logo and the new NWTF Mossy Oak Obsession camouﬂage pattern. A collection featuring the Bottomland pattern (one of my favorites) is also available. A portion of all proﬁts from this line will go to the NWTF for conservation-based projects.
Primos’ Gen 3 Trigger Stick series has added improved features such as locking leg angles to provide more stability. They come in monopod, bipod and tripod models, and in short and tall lengths.
Although I have hunted spring gobblers in the snow (notice that I didn’t say I liked it), most spring hunts are in warmer weather. The Nomad/NWTF collection should have you covered from early to late season. Their woven long-sleeve shirt and pant features rugged, lightweight Rip-Stop Technology with secured cargo pockets – designed speciﬁcally for the turkey woods. For warm-weather hunts, the company offers a quarter-zip and cooling T-shirt option built from breathable materials that feature vented back/underarms and offers moisture transport. To round out the collection, Nomad also offers hats, gaiters and gloves. Their website is nomad.com. EXPERIENCED TURKEY HUNTERS KNOW that the last several yards of a turkey’s approach toward you are the most critical. Make a mistake after he crosses the 50-yard line and you will not be partaking of fried turkey breast. The key here is just to be ready. Sit at the base of the largest tree you can ﬁnd and face the direction the gobbler will approach from. If you are a right-handed shooter, point your left shoulder at the place you think he will appear; do the opposite if you are a lefty. This allows you to swing the gun in order to cover as much area as possible. As you sit with your knees up, the shotgun is on one knee. Get as comfortable as you can, because you’ll need to be able to sit like this for some time.
When the gobbler comes into view, you cannot move. Let me repeat that sentence and add an exclamation point for emphasis: You cannot move!
As the moment of truth draws near, you may need to make a very slight adjustment in aiming at the turkey. This is accomplished by carefully watching the bird and waiting until his head goes behind something big, usually a tree (and the tree has to be pretty large for this to work). Keep in mind the turkey must be within a few feet of this tree if you are to go undetected. Remember the old turkey hunter adage: “A turkey can see through a thin rock.”
Ask any experienced turkey hunter; the scenario of sitting at the base of a tree while the gobbler approaches can be torture. The gobbler may take his own sweet time in getting to you, longer if you’re sitting on a rock, tree root or other sharp object, all while you are trying to hold the shotgun on your knee without moving! (Did I mention you cannot move?) Through the years, I have sat and watched the barrel of more than one companion’s gun start to wobble in increasingly larger circles. Turkey shotguns can be heavy, and so something to help relieve the weight of that gun may be in order. The Primos Trigger Stick Gen 3 series can really help with this.
The best feature of this product to me is it will adjust to the desired height with one hand. Simply grab the “trigger” and boom, it’s right where you need it to be. The Gen 3 series has added improved features such as locking leg angles to provide more stability, and the gun rest rotates so you can easily adjust your aim. These sticks come in monopod, bipod and tripod models, and in short and tall lengths.
The Remington 870 – this is the Express Super Magnum Waterfowl model – may account for more dead turkeys than any other shotgun, the author argues.
ONCE TURKEY DECOYS FINALLY MADE their debut, I began to see some hunters get away with movement near an approaching gobbler that would previously have been impossible. The reason is simple. The turkey has his eyes on the decoy and is less likely to see the hunter. However, until recently, I’ve been discouraged from carrying decoys because they are too bulky and heavy, and some early versions of light, packable decoys were often lacking in the appearance department, resembling a mutant ostrich as much as anything else.
But I’m beginning to change my opinion on that, because HS Strut’s new Strut Lite decoys look and feel great. They have a ﬂake-resistant paint job and have a foldable, hollow body construction for easy storage in your vest. They are available in a three-pack with a semistrutting jake, a feeding hen and a breeding hen, and individually. MSRP for the ﬂock is $99.99; singles range from $34.99 to $44.99. See hunterspec.com. ALTHOUGH SOME STATES ALLOW RIFLES for taking turkeys, it is generally thought of as a shotgun sport. The choices for turkey shotguns out there are wide and varied, and choosing just one or two shotguns to discuss with you here is not easy. I’ve gone back to my roots a bit with the choice of two pump guns, but I may have balanced that out with decidedly new and improved ammo.
Chris Ellis of Ellis Communications and his son Jack proudly pose with their Osceola gobbler. It was Jack’s first turkey.
With more than 12 million models sold since it appeared in 1951, what can you say about the Remington 870 that has not already been said? I will stick my neck out (pun intended) and say more turkeys have been shot with a Remington 870 than any other shotgun. It has the rock-solid dependability and functionality that turkey and waterfowl hunters demand, and I’m sure that many of you out there are still hunting with your dad’s or granddad’s 870 Wingmaster. I am not sure I can even count the number of variations of the 870, but the Super Magnum Turkey/ Waterfowl model will do most anything you need a shotgun for. The “Super” in the name designates it will handle 2¾- to 3½-inch shells for those days when you want a little extra punch for turkeys, or Canada geese. Another good reason to choose this one is because it comes in Mossy Oak Bottomland. MSRP for this model is $629.00.
If for some reason you’d like another brand or ﬂavor of pump gun, the 612 Magnum Turkey from CZ-USA may be the one for you. And, although this smoothbore was designed for turkey hunting, you won’t have any trouble taking it to the duck blind or pheasant ﬁelds. It weighs in at an amazing 6.8 pounds, a big bonus that you are going to appreciate if you need to lug it though the turkey woods. The 612 Magnum Turkey is hydrodipped in Realtree Xtra Green, shoots everything up to 3½-inch ammo and comes with an extra-full choke for turkeys and a modiﬁed for upland game and steel shot. This pump gun has an action reminiscent of the Model 12, and with an MSRP of $429 it is hard to beat.
As with the countless calls, there are various and sundry shotgun shells out there for turkeys these days. Winchester seems to be ruling the roost in this area with their Long Beard XR ammo. The boys at Winchester made shot shell history when they perfected the Shot-Lok technology, which allowed them to load shot in a liqueﬁed resin. This resin hardens, and upon ignition in the chamber of the shotgun it shatters and produces a super-effective buffering compound. All of this translates into the tight downrange patterns today’s turkey hunters want. New this year will be 20-gauge rounds in the Long Beard XR line, so stay tuned for news about this. MSRP is $18.99 for a box of 10 3-inch shells for 12-gauge shotguns, and $22.99 for 3½-inch shells.
CZ-USA’s 612 Magnum Turkey model is hydrodipped in Realtree Xtra Green, and comes with an extra-full choke for turkeys.
FINALLY, AND FOR BETTER OR worse, turkey hunting has become a game of tightshooting shotguns, and to many turkey hunters the tighter the better. Today’s gobbler hunters want effective killing patterns on turkeys at 50 yards and beyond. George Trulock in Whigham, Ga., has been making choke tubes for many years and he is good at it. Mr. Trulock has forgotten more about choke tubes on shotguns than most of us will ever know. Currently TruLock Chokes (trulockchokes.com) has an inventory of over 2,000 choke tubes in stock, so take your pic. Trulock went so far as to not only make a choke tube speciﬁcally to be used with the Winchester Long Beard XR ammo, but he is making choke tubes speciﬁc to the shot size you want to use. He’s said, “If you shoot different shot sizes through the same choke, you could see a big difference in the pattern for each size. That’s why we decided to make each choke model speciﬁc to the Longbeard XR No. 4, 5 and 6 shot, and to tell you the truth, the results were quite impressive.” PERSONALLY, I’M VERY THANKFUL that Mr. Franklin lost out on his bid to make the wild turkey our national bird. I would hate to think about the redbuds blooming and all of those old gobblers ﬁlling the spring air with their racket and we couldn’t be out there pursuing them. Not only do we get to match wits with this most American of birds, but we also get to justify the purchase of some really cool guns and gear. I love turkey hunting. Don’t you? ASJ
This big Missouri gobbler was taken with CZ-USA’s 612 Turkey model shotgun. The gun also comes in a Magnum version. (CZ-USA)
Disarm techniques have been taught to many law enforcement, military and in self defense courses. In the defensive tactics mindset, it is taught you never look for a disarm. If you do, its best to use your own firearm to disarm a bad guy. Disarms itself are accidental if not incidental.
Disarms are not that complicated its a matter of determination and self preservation being the primary motivator. Watch as this security camera footage captures the tables turning on a would-be thief.
The attacker in the video is wielding what appears to be a tactical shotgun. Unfortunately for him, he puts it well within reach of the quick-thinking victim. You would’ve thought the tough guy would’ve put up more of a fight! Stay Safe.
[su_heading size=”30″]Choosing the right loads and chokes is all part of preparing your turkey gun for spring success. [/su_heading]
STORY AND PHOTOS BY TROY RODAKOWSKI
[su_dropcap style=”light”]W[/su_dropcap]hether you prefer a 20-, 12- or even a 10-gauge shotgun to go after your spring gobbler, the time is now to pick the right load for maximum effectiveness. You might only get one chance at that trophy bird, so why not give yourself the best opportunity at a quick clean and ethical harvest?
Using range finders and shot-tracking equipment such as the Bullseye system can be very helpful.
There are many turkey choke tubes on the market, and folks often ask me which one is best. I always tell them to pick a choke designed for your gun and the load you plan to shoot. But whatever you do, choose something, because you shouldn’t head into the woods without a turkey choke. Trust me, you are not doing yourself any favors by not having one.
Choke tubes come in four standard sizes, commonly known as cylinder choke (C), improved cylinder choke (IC), modiﬁed choke (M), and full choke (F). Essentially, turkey chokes are extra full. Once upon a time, the standard for shotgun patterns was the 30-inch circle and what percentage of the pellets in a shotgun shell was delivered inside that area. The idea was to have an evenly distributed pattern inside the circle, but modern turkey hunters want something tighter than that. TURKEY CHOKES ARE DESIGNED speciﬁcally to keep your pattern tight at various distances. Turkey shells have more of a powder charge than a typical shotgun load, and this is where this distinctive choke will pay dividends. The general rule of thumb is that it takes three pellets to break a clay target and six pellets to take down a small game bird.
Counting the number of pellets in the vitals is key to finding the best patterning load for your gun.
Of course, as the size of the game bird increases, so does the number of pellets that are needed for a successful shot. In other words, it takes more pellets to kill a turkey than it does to bag a quail! Shot size is also important, as a larger shot will be needed to take down a turkey. In order to choose your chokes, you want to predict how far away your shot is going to be.
Hunters go after spring turkeys using a variety of methods; so one load won’t be perfect for everybody. But everyone can pick the perfect load to match his or her style of hunting. First, determine which size shot you like best – 2¾-, 3- or 3½-inch shells loaded with size 3, 4, 5 or 6 shot? Again, you need to shoot several through your gun and see which one patterns best on paper. There are even pelleted blends with specially designed wads for greater distance. Last year I hunted with Federal 3rd Degree Turkey Loads, copper-plated lead pellets in size 4, 5 and 6 shot. I was impressed with the effectiveness through my gun prior to season, especially at intermediate ranges.
There are old ﬁxed-choke guns that will shoot certain loads better regardless of other factors. I like to start out with standard No. 6s and see what the pattern looks like before trying something different. My father has an old Remington 870 ﬁxed full choke, and he seems to shoot size 6 loads through it best. Newer 20-gauge shotguns will shoot size 7s at 1,100 feet per second, and these are great for a young hunter or beginning sportsmen or -women.
FOR HUNTERS ON THE MOVE, lighter guns with good loads chambered in 3- and 3½-inch size 4 or 5 shot with velocity over 1,100 fps are more desirable. Regardless, a hunter needs to practice with several loads and determine which one works best. I like to ﬁnd at least two that pattern well, choose one that I prefer and have another on standby. Why have two, you may ask? Well, I have found that not all loads are readily available especially during season, so this way I don’t ﬁnd myself running out of shells halfway through the month of May and have to scramble to ﬁnd another type that I’m comfortable with. Does that sound like planning ahead? It sure does.
Blends of copper and lead with specially formulated wads have increased pellet density and range for gobbler gunners over the last few years.
The bottom line is, you want the largest possible percentage of pellets in the vitals as possible. Pattern your gun according to the type of terrain you’ve chosen to hunt. For example, if you are hunting thick brushy country, make sure to pattern for 30 yards or less, and in a more open environment pattern out to 40 yards. Counting your pellets at each range and ﬁguring out your kill percentage provides valuable information.
You will be very surprised at the different performance of various loads at the similar ranges. The ideal pattern for a turkey gun is 100 pellets within a 10-inch circle at 40 yards. Achieving this density essentially means that there should be a large enough percentage of pellets in the vitals to ethically harvest your turkey.
These loads have been very consistent for the author over the years.
WHEN PATTERNING YOUR GUN, remember to always shoot from a stable rest,
bench or sled. I like to use my Bullseye camera system (bullseyecamera.com) or other digital range ﬁnder to help simplify the process. This also helps save time running up and down range and changing targets. No matter what shot size you choose, the pattern should equate to 25 to 35 percent (on average) of pellets in the vitals or 10-inch diameter. Density is the key ingredient in determining which load you prefer and works best.
You can make your own targets out of butcher paper or print out your own. Several outdoor companies sell high-quality shoot-n-see style targets that can be found at Cabela’s, Gander Mountain and other sporting goods retailers. A general rule and helpful reminder is that most turkey guns are patterned for 40 yards or less, since this distance is universally considered “ethical” to shoot and harvest a bird.
But spring is nearly upon us, so now is the time to quit reading about turkeys and get out there to burn some powder in preparation for a great season. ASJ
It’s not easy to bring down these amazing birds, so why not take a little time to make sure your time counts. A favorite shotgun with a turkey choke and a consistent load is all you need.
For the shotgun user, we all like to try out different types of slugs, maybe you’ve come across the “needle”. The needle slug is a 3D printed Alumide shotgun projectile. Alumide is a mixture of nylon and aluminum powder. It makes a pretty strong structure, the load was only 4 grams so its a light load.
This was based on a “pen shank” created by Michael Yeh. Greg from TAOFLEDERMAUS Youtuber gets a chance to shoot this needle at a clump of clay and jelly down range. Check out the results below.
There were a few more shots taken at a vest without any level IIIA plates, see the video below.
Hi this is Jeff of TAOFLEDERMAUS, today we’ve got another submission by Michael Yeh, a 3D printed, oddly-shaped projectile that’s based on a pen shank that he invented. That’s right. And like I said, this is printed with Alumide. Alumide is a mixture of nylon and aluminum powder. It makes a pretty strong structure, but it’s still pretty light. This only weighs four grams.
We’re out here shooting the 3D printed “needle”, the Needle is the name of this round made by Michael Yeh, you’ve seen him before, sending us some great 3D printed rounds. We’re gonna give this a try, you can tell it sorta looks like a rocket-pod on a helicopter. It’s got a couple of little through-and-through holes there, maybe we’ll get a little whistle out of them. So we’re gonna try them against Mr. Grumpy Clay down there, and see what we can get. Alright, Michael, let’s give this a try.
Ok I’m ready!
Here we go!
So you can see what we found, here. We found a little plug down here on the bottom, and all its little spires broke off. Then in here, one, two, three, and then the little tip. Right up in here, just the tip. And here’s what’s cool, this tip bent, but didn’t shear.
Wonder how it hit? Probably hit sideways or somethin’.
And then he took the wad to the nose. If you’re taking a wad to the nose, you’re doin’ it wrong.
Now you may have heard how quiet the shotgun was, we had a full-powder charge in there, but when you have a very lightweight load in there, something like four grams, it’s often not really enough to really light the powder and give it full velocity. And as you can see, this projectile never stabilized, flying sideways when it hit the clay. Ok, let’s take a shot at some ballistic jelly!
Oh yeah! That was better!
So the wad was stuck in the front, and you can see the needle round, there’s the point, it actually turned around.
Is that the front or the back? I see– look, you can see the track going through there!
This was the, uh…
No, what the heck happened there?
This…this almost looks like this is the track, but this thing did rotate, so… the wad was stuck in here. I dunno. We’ll have to see. But as I found it, it was still sitting like this.
Unless it did hit nose-first in there, and spun it around and caught the wad on the back side?
You can see some kind of a track, like, maybe it–wait. It went way in there and then bounced– it’ll spring back.
It’s actually in perfect condition.
Send that back to Michael for a refund!
Yeah! That’s the one I didn’t mark, too, for some reason.
You’ll be able to see it on slow-mo, but it either went in tip first and almost penetrated all the way through, or spun around.
Now this shot was noticeably louder, and you can see we have a much higher velocity. Another difference that we can see here is that we can see that the projectile is flying nose-first for most of the way, and then at the last split-second it flips around and hits the gel backwards. It’s interesting to see how the wadding is kind of engulfed in the cavitation hole there.
Ok, I’m ready!
Also, not recommended for home defense! [fire]
Look at the triangular-shaped impact from that thing hitting sideways and kinda keyholing in there. It’s the almost exact same shape as this flying and going -boom- right there.
So that’s not very stable, but it was accurate enough!
Wad. Accurate enough for home defense!
Look at the picture of the wad, it’s a perfect transfer, like silly putty.
Now this shot was noticeably louder, and it was flying at a much higher velocity this time. This is probably at least hitting mach 1.
So this is like, 300 yards, you say?
Yeah it’s about 300 yards, it’s a sniper shot.
Call of Duty 300 yards. Ok. It looks like we plant some hickock seeds. He’s starting to sprout up!
Ok that was another weak-sounding shot, but we had pretty good velocity. You can see the slug tumbling end-over-end, it never regained stability, though. But we still had fun doing it. I hope you check out michael’s channel, he does a lot of different stuff. Crossbows, he does some reloading, black powder stuff, it’s pretty
cool, the kid’s really smart, and has always impressed me. And some of the stuff we have coming up, the Australian Fosterless slugs, I’m not sure what we’re calling them there, we have another Tim Hamilton Turban brass slug design, and this is another Tim Hamilton-designed, just like the dumbell design that we shot the other day, and then finally we have the UPK2, a very cool russian slug, and here’s a demo of it.
OK, hit it! [Fire] wow.
I still have a lot of stuff that people have been waiting for me to shoot that they’ve sent to me, some of them waiting a couple months so bear with us, the weather hasn’t been very good, but we’re slowly catching up on this stuff. Hope you guys enjoyed this, thanks for watching.
[su_heading size=”30″]Benelli’s Montefeltro has made the journey from European novelty to the world’s most respected repeating upland shotgun. [/su_heading]
STORY AND PHOTOS BY BRAD FITZPATRICK
[su_dropcap style=”flat”]I[/su_dropcap]n 1911, as John Browning was ﬁnalizing his semiautomatic pistol stateside, Teresa Benelli was helping her six sons invest in a small automotive repair shop in Urbino, Italy. The brothers did well with their business and eventually began building motorcycles, selling their bikes in the U.S. through Montgomery Ward catalogs. By 1967, the brand had earned enough capital to allow Giovanni Benelli to design and market semiautomatic shotguns, a byproduct of his love of hunting. Little did he know that the gun that bore his name would reinvent the shotgun market in much the same way that Browning’s 1911 forever changed pistol design.
The Montefeltro has a reputation for harsh recoil, but it isn’t abusive. The author fired this field gun – which wore a black plastic butt plate – more than 500 times on this day in Argentina, and although his shoulder was sore it wasn’t enough to keep him from heading to the field at first light the following day.
Although the name Benelli was stamped on the very ﬁrst gun to leave the Urbino factory in ’67, the real genius behind the gun was an Italian designer named Bruno Civolani. Civolani’s system was different than the gas systems that were becoming popular in the States. One of the hallmarks of the Benelli design was that it was so simple and basic that it rarely broke and, as shotgun enthusiasts quickly learned, it required less frequent cleaning and could go hundreds of thousands of rounds before a failure.
That design was the Inertia Driven System, and it had three basic components: a rotating bolt face, a bolt body and an inertia spring. As recoil pushes the gun rearward, the bolt stays in place for an instant and the inertia spring compresses, eventually developing enough energy to unlock the bolt face. The bolt body is then forced rearward, extracting and ejecting the spent casing. The recoil spring shoves the bolt back forward and slams the bolt body back into place after picking up the next shell. The ﬁnal step in the process is for the rotating bolt head to lock into battery for the next shot.
Waiting on birds in Argentina. The wait was rarely longer than 30 seconds, so this Montefeltro took a beating, and that’s just one day. In addition, it cycled dirty shells and busted hard primers without any issues.
BENELLI WAS ALREADY BIG IN EUROPE before American hunters and shooters started noticing a few of these slim, sleek Italian autoloaders showing up in duck blinds and upland ﬁelds. One of those early guns was named the Montefeltro in honor of the Duke of Montefeltro and his family who lived in the region of Urbino. Benelli’s Montefeltro had some similar features to popular American guns at the time, but there were a few obvious differences.
For starters, the forearm was trim and slim, very different than American gas guns that housed pistons and gas systems under the barrel. The Montefeltro was also lighter by as much as a pound, a result of the simplicity of the Inertia Driven System, as well as an intentional design feature – gas guns tend to work better the heavier they are, and inertia guns are quite the opposite. The Benelli was a gun that could easily be carried all day long, and upland hunters liked this.
There were a few other nuances found on the Montefeltro that are different than traditional gas guns. For one thing, the bolt was much lighter. Whereas it was a chore to pull the bolt rearward on a gas gun, the Montefeltro, by contrast, could be racked with a single ﬁnger and a slap of the wrist. Another difference – one that I have seen baffle ﬁrst-time Benelli shooters – is that simply pulling the bolt rearward doesn’t automatically feed a shell from the magazine tube into the chamber.
There’s a very, very good reason for this, though. If you jam a Montefeltro down on the ground, you can actually open the bolt, and if a shell happened to feed during that process, you would be suddenly carrying a shotgun with a chambered shell and not be aware of that fact, which is dangerous. New Benelli shooters have to get used to the idea of depressing the shell release lever and then racking the bolt. It takes some time, but I’m so familiar with my Montefeltro that the order of operations on a traditional gas gun has begun to feel foreign.
This Idaho partridge fell to the Montefeltro with a 1-ounce load of size 6 shot. The Benelli is light enough for allday carry even in this steep country.
The Montefeltro was – and is – a beautiful gun. The curves of its long action, stylized receiver and trim proﬁle were once considered revolutionary, but have now become a blueprint followed by other makers. The rib is quite ﬂat, but the Benelli is so light and well balanced that it is quick to the shoulder and ﬁts a wide range of shooters. Wingshooters liked that, and they also liked the Montefeltro’s scant weight. If you are a serious bird hunter – the kind that climbs mountains in search of Huns and chukars, or who wades through alders and grapevines for a shot at a ruffed grouse – that difference in weight makes, well, a difference.
Serious bird hunters began carrying Montes, and soon something else became very apparent about these guns. Since the Inertia Driven System doesn’t rely on gas to be vented through the gun (these gases are pushed out of the barrel for less fouling), these guns could go for thousands of rounds between cleanings and would ﬁre a wide array of loads without the need for modiﬁcation or adjustment. Want to break a few clays or walk-up a covey of quail or two? You can use light loads without any problem. Want to follow that up with a hunt for hard-ﬂying roosters or large ducks? Fine, your Benelli will eat those loads as well without indigestion.
The Montefeltro is available as a combo gun with two satin walnut stocks—perfect for a young shooter who is still growing.
Not all semiauto shotguns are available in left-handed versions, but the Montefeltro is. With so many options with regard to stock design and length, as well as action, it’s little wonder that so many shooters like the Montefeltro.
The basic Montefeltro has an anodized receiver and blued barrel and comes with a very nice satin walnut stock or durable black synthetic, and there’s also a Silver version
with AA-grade walnut and a nickel-plated engraved receiver. The trigger assembly drops out and the trigger guard is big enough that I can easily shoot my gun when wearing rather large leather gloves. Crio choke tubes are included, so named because Benelli cryogenically treats both their barrels and chokes to relieve stress on the steel, smooth surfaces, and, as a result, produce more consistent patterns. Additionally, the Montefeltro comes in a left-handed version for southpaws and a compact version for anyone with short arms. With so many options and features, it’s little wonder this gun has won over a legion of shooters in the United States and elsewhere.
THE DOVE FIELDS OF ARGENTINA test a shotgun as brutally as any other place on earth, and among the many lodges that cater to dove hunters, those belonging to the David Denies group are perhaps the ﬁnest of all. Denies offers a variety of excursions throughout South America, everything from hunting roaring red stag to ﬂy ﬁshing in some of the world’s most incredible waters to duck hunts with 50-bird limits. But the David Denies brand specializes in dove hunts, and in a land where birds are shot daily by the thousands, I doubt if any outﬁtter can put you in ﬁelds where you will pull the trigger more frequently.
The Montefeltro accounted for these Kentucky doves on the opening morning of season. Benelli’s autoloader is certainly one of the most versatile upland guns you can own, perfect for clay shooting, doves, pheasants, rabbits, and more.
We were hunting Cordoba Lodge, and on our ﬁrst day in camp we headed to a cutover dove ﬁeld into which the birds were streaming by the thousands. I doubt that more than 30 seconds passed without a shot opportunity, and since our guns hadn’t arrived yet, we were given the lodge guns. These were, as you might imagine, Benelli Montefeltros. It was the exact same 20-gauge autoloader I carried at home for quail, rabbits, grouse and chukars, but this Argentinian gun had seen tens of thousands of rounds more than my own Monte.
The gun performed ﬂawlessly, coming quickly to the shoulder and crumpling birds that were passing left-toright, incomers, and doves that presented high overhead shots. As fast as I could shoot we reloaded, and by day’s end we had put better than 500 rounds through the gun – a light afternoon by Argentina standards. At the lodge, over a steak and wine (what else in Argentina?), I asked the lodge owner how many rounds the Benelli had gone through. He squinted, tilted his head to the sky, and did some math.
“Probably … 150,000. A hundred thousand, at least.”
I may never press the trigger on my Monte that many times, but it’s good to know that the gun can handle that kind of abuse. But that longevity is only one reason that people buy the Montefeltro. The other is that if you hunt hard, it’s one of the best shotgun options you can own.
The synthetic stock version is perfect for anyone who plans to take their gun through the briars or into flooded timber and who doesn’t want to damage that fine walnut stock.
The Silver version is truly a magnificent firearm with a nickel-plated receiver and AA-grade walnut. MSRP on this gun runs above $1,700, but the quality of this gun justifies the cost.
AMERICA ALSO OFFERS TREMENDOUS wingshooting opportunities on public lands throughout the west. The only caveat is that you’ll have to climb and hike – a lot. In this country, if you’re averaging a bird a mile, that’s pretty spectacular, and the average is probably more like one bird every 5 miles. But for those who love this kind of open range hunting, there’s nothing that can compare.
Idaho’s Tom Loy, famous for his line of superb Gordon setters, introduced me to chukar hunting. The ﬁrst gun I brought along was a 7½-pound over/under, which was a terrible choice. For one thing, it was too heavy, a real burden when you’re hiking in steep country. For another, I needed that extra shot.
This past year I hunted with Tom again, but I’ve since learned that there are upland guns built for this kind of task and the Montefeltro is one of them. My 20-gauge Monte weighs a hair over 5½ pounds and it carries very well. That’s a good thing, because Tom knows some of the best places to hunt birds in Idaho but you’ll have to walk. We covered a moderate distance on our last hunt, perhaps 5 or 6 miles, and we really had great success, harvesting ﬁve Huns and a pair of California quail. The Montefeltro accounted for about half those birds, but my back wasn’t aching when I was ﬁnished. The only strain was from a heavy game bag.
I have carried my Benelli to the ﬁeld in search of a variety of different upland species across the United States, and it has never failed me. But before you run out and buy a Montefeltro, there are a few things that you should know. For starters, gas guns recoil less. I don’t think it’s a lot less, and if you aren’t shooting hundreds of rounds a day, I doubt you would notice. The Montefeltro’s other quirk is that the bolt head must be dropped with enough force to rotate and lock it. Ease it forward and you’ll hear that dreaded “Benelli click.” With a few days’ practice you will quickly learn how to handle the Benelli so that this doesn’t happen, but I still occasionally forget and miss a shot.
The author shooting doves in Argentina with a well-worn Montefeltro. Guns rented by Argentinian dove lodges see more abuse than most any other shotgun, and Montefeltros are one of the handful of weapons you’ll see in regular use here.
Those foibles are minor compared to the Benelli Montefeltro’s many, many strong points. It’s little wonder that this svelte little Italian gun with its ingeniously simple operating system has spawned so many copies, with more and more inertia guns hitting the market each year. But there’s only one Montefeltro, and it’s hard to beat the original. ASJ
Little man rips this and all he has left to say is “I don’t know which is bigger, OO Buck or #2.”
Yeh, just a little kick and most kids his would end up on the ground, this boy leans back only to look at dad like, “Whoa, baby, that had some mustard on it!”
This little tyke has some shooting chops on him with this rifle, a compact shooter with a gun probably taller than he is. He appears to hit his mark in the video, and probably gains a bruised shoulder in the process– which he appears to be used to.
It’s good to teach your kids gun safety and responsible shooting, especially while young. Part of that is having a good set of headphones and adult supervision. Thankfully in the process, this adult supervisor kept the camera rolling. I’m sure this kid will have some fond memories to look back on in a few years, and this will be one of them.