As you read this I'm sitting in hunting camp at One Lazy J Ranch and Outfitter in northwest Nebraska, trying to check "Merriam's" off the list of subspecies in my Grand Slam Pursuit.
I've killed the majority of my turkeys throughout the years with a trusty ol' Remington 11-87, but finally I'm expanding my 12 gauge horizons to other newfangled offerings. It's not that I've been resistant to modernizing my turkey-gunning approach ... I've just been slow to adapt. In fact, I've been very tempted by most of the new "tactical" turkey guns I've shouldered at sporting goods stores or in hunting camps—because of practical and visual appeal.
Having never hunted with a tactical turkey gun, I've decided to give it a shot this year with the Weatherby PA-459 Turkey shotgun. I suppose it's a perfect fit for me—Weatherby has always been more "traditional" in their firearms offerings, and I've generally flown the same course with my firearms usage. If Weatherby can make a somewhat radical departure from the norm, so can I!
I'm most excited about (hopefully) getting hung up less while creeping through the woods with a shorter barrel than I'm accustomed to. I also look forward to the added stability of a pistol grip. The Ghost Ring sight should be helpful, in theory, for zeroing-in on head-bobbing longbeards when they reach my kill zone. With the Picatinny rail, I might even be tempted to jump way into the future and add a fancy red-dot sight. And as a regular semiauto guy, it'll be a comforting peace of mind knowing that I'm carrying a typically more-reliable pump action (hence the "PA" in "PA-459").
Those are my positive first impressions about the PA-459, but there is also a "dark side," albeit not too concerning to me: This shotgun doesn't shoot 3.5-inch cartridges, and Weatherby only offers two choke tube options: cylinder bore and extra-full. Three-inchers are more than sufficient, but the included extra-full choke is ported, meaning it's not ideal for popular new loads with unique wads like the Flitecontrol wad in Federal's Mag-Shok Heavyweights or the Versatite wad in Hornady's Heavy Magnums. Thankfully, there are plenty of other drop-dead ammo options available that'll make gobblers quiver in fear. (Note: According to a trusted source at Weatherby, Beretta's reasonably extensive line of Mobilchoke tubes will fit the PA-459. It's possible Weatherby will expand their choke tube line in the future.)
I'll keep you posted as the PA-459 and I tiptoe through cowpies in search of Nebraska Merriam's. But now, I ask you:
What are you shooting this turkey season?