I’m often razzed by my hunting buddies that my duck gun of choice is a double. The reason why I do started 18 years ago, when my Father and I were invited by a family friend to my first duck hunt in Stuttgart, Arkansas. I had chased small game with my Grandfather’s .22 growing up, but my Dad’s work schedule and the unfortunate event of having the gun cabinet emptied by a thief meant that wingshooting adventures were not part of my early hunting years.
Leading up to that trip, we acquired the duck hunting essentials–waders, non-toxic ammo, and camouflage hats–from the local department store, but my father was still without a shotgun. Much to my surprise, Dad came home one night grinning ear to ear with an economy double. The double trigger, nonejector, side-by-side was like the many carried by generations before.
The frost-covered morning of the hunt arrived, and my Dad crumpled bird after bird with his new double. What it lacked in new technology and 3 ½-inch capability, it made up for in style and tradition. I also took my first duck, a lone woody, on that trip, and a feather from that drake still adorns the Dorfman hat atop my bookshelf. Thinking back to that hunt always brings a smile to my face, which helps cover up years of other hard memories.
The over/under 12-gauge Beretta I carry today was purchased and fitted with a pad to accommodate my extra-long dimensions, a characteristic that makes it difficult for me to shoot modern autos well. As generations of hunters know, a double is a terrific tool in any duck blind. But the main reason I carry a double doesn’t have to do with performance; it’s a matter of tradition and legacy. I recently added a pair of 20s to the safe, so it’s a tradition that will one day be passed on to my two boys.