It seems that the Axis deer herd my parents texted me about is here to stay as I’ve been getting nearly daily updates from the home front that the herd is seen every morning when they head out to work. Obviously, this is not helping alleviate the hunting itch. That’s why hunting buddies exist. So I texted my pal Will who lives down in Corpus Christi. Will and I grew up together, he’s the guy that introduced me to hunting, and has been present for basically every big hunting moment of my life. So I shot him a message to let him know that the Axis were back in force . . .
He responded almost immediately to subtly ask if he was going to get an invite this fall (he is). But then he threw me a curve and asked if I wanted to go hunt ducks this season. While I’m a pretty big fan of Duck Dynasty, I’ve never been much of a bird hunter, a situation I’m already planning to remedy this year with some dove hunting at the ranch.
But ducks, man, that’s heavy stuff. You need waders, and dogs, steel shot, and guns that go in saltwater. So obviously, I said yes figuring that details would be a secondary item. Then I got to work and realized that I’d committed to hunt ducks, and didn’t have the faintest clue what I needed to outfit myself. So I texted Will and asked him for a shopping list. He replied with a clipped, “Waders, wading boots, 2 shot 3″ steel. I’ll take care of the rest.”
“But what about a gun?”, I asked. Shameful as it sounds, I only own a Yildiz O/U and I’ve never been much of a clay shooter. I’m barely competent at it. Naturally, I texted Dan and Nick for advice. Dan nonchalantly said, “Send an email to Tom over at Benelli.”
Which is hilarious in retrospect. I mean, yeah, we’re TTAG, and we’re known for our hard-hitting coverage and all, but it still blows my mind that I can call up Benelli and ask for a $1800 gun, simple as that. But you know, nothing ventured, nothing gained. So I sent Tom an email explaining that I’d committed to a duck hunt and didn’t have a duck gun or the faintest clue how to get a duck from sky to the table. He responded almost immediately to let me know that I had the full backing of Benelli and that they’d be happy to send me a loaner for the newly created “First Time Duck Hunter” series I’d just made up. He offered me my choice of the following; SuperBlack Eagle II, Super Vinci, Franchi ITENSITY, or Stoeger 3500.
I’d had the opportunity to shoot a Super Black Eagle during a bird hunt nearly ten years ago in Mexico, and I was pleased with how easy it shot, how reliable it proved to be, and the general level of fit and finish. I’d also heard from one of the local helicopter hog hunting pilots that the State of Texas only uses Super Black Eagles since they’re the only shotgun that can hold up to the thousands of rounds of 3-1/2″ #00 buck sent downrange during their culls of the wild hog population.
With that in mind, I asked nicely for a Super Black Eagle II, but asked if our readership might call me an elitist for picking the very expensive Benelli. Tom’s response was swift and is reprinted below, unedited.
Will someone call you an elitist? Probably. Someone else will probably call you not legit if you hunt with an inexpensive gun.The Benelli SBE II sets the standard in duck blinds, standing timber, and duck boats across the world. It just can’t be argued otherwise. It is a waterfowl killing machine. If you’re hunting in brackish water in South Texas you’ll see plenty SBE II’s. Duck hunters are incredibly dedicated and passionate about their hunting, their dogs, and their guns. So it is not uncommon for a duck hunter to save for years to buy a Benelli SBE II. If you’re a motorcycle guy you may forego the new flat screen for some new chrome or straight pipes to make your bike the best. It’s all about someone’s priorities and there’s not a lot duck hunters put ahead of their gear. Shooting an SBE II doesn’t make you an elitist, just makes you someone who wants unrelenting reliability, superior performance, and the kind of gun you can use as a canoe paddle then rinse off and shoot all day.Frankly you’ll find the same thing in the SuperVinci in a more modern design (it’s what I shoot).Sorry! We have a lot of pride in our product!Tom
I admire the hell out of that sort of response. I love when the employees of a company are adamant about how great their particular “thing” is. Especially when it comes across as so confident that it gets presented as fact. I’m super excited about the opportunity to go bust some ducks in December with my hunting buddy Will and a Super Black Eagle II. Will’s excited too as evidenced by the nearly constant stream of pictures I’ve been getting from him of last season’s ducks blacking out the sky.
Assuming the shipping gods smile upon me, I may actually get to give that Benelli a try in a few weeks when I go dove hunting at the ranch.
As always, I’ll write about everything that comes up from gear to guns to calls in preparation as well as a full review of the duck hunting in South Texas. And as you’ve come to expect, we’re gonna beat the hell out of that Benelli and give you a full review when the dust settles. Strap in folks, we’re going bird hunting.