By Sam Trisler
The popularity of the A&E reality show Duck Dynasty has done wonders to increase the public’s awareness of duck hunting. Mossberg, making the most of this opportunity, announced this past summer that it had teamed up with the Duck Commander guys to create a new line of products. These interpretations of venerable Mossberg guns are starting to trickle out of the factory. We talked to Mossberg reps at SHOT Show this year and they agreed to send us a Duck Commander 930, which we had in the field before the end of duck season (just a week later). What better way to check out a gun that is designed to knock waterfowl out of the sky than to take it to the blind?
The Whole Line
Mossberg’s shotguns have earned the company a solid foothold on the entry-level scattergun market. As one would expect from the new Duck Commander line, there are a number of sporting guns. The shotguns pretty much cover most of Mossberg’s regular line. From the 500 pump to the 935 autoloader, they have something that will fit your needs. Mossberg also included the 20 gauge Super Bantam youth model and the 3 ½ inch 12 gauge 835 Ulti-Mag.
There are some unexpected Duck Commander offerings as well. Non-shotguns. It may seem strange to find the Duck Commander logo on guns that are not meant for duck hunting. Still, why miss an opportunity? There are three .22 LR auto loaders that have gotten the redneck-royalty’s Duck Commander treatment: the 702 Plinkster and the AR-styled 715 pistol and rifle.
All of the guns in the Duck Commander line have a couple of things in common. The first one you will notice is the camouflage; they are all dipped in Real Tree’s newest waterfowl pattern, Max-5. Mossberg is only putting this pattern on the Duck Commander guns. The other big standout is the Duck Commander logo on the stocks or receivers. All of the shotguns come with the new Mossberg two-tone Tru-Glo fiber optic front beads. Also, each of these guns comes with an American flag bandana, just like the one Willie wears on the show. I recommend taking it off before heading to your blind, but that’s up to you. It would certainly keep the Canadian Geese well north of your set-up. Mossberg has also released a special edition of these shotguns that has some slight differences. The receivers and barrels are not dipped in Max-5, but instead have a flying duck pattern. They’re also engraved “Faith, Family, Ducks” and “Happy, Happy, Happy.”
From SHOT Show to the field
When we checked in with Mossberg at SHOT Show, we pitched them an idea for this article—to get a Duck Commander shotgun to Arkansas before the season ended. If they could get me the gun in time, I would get it in the field. I even called one of my hunting buddies from the show floor to see if he was available for the following weekend. The timing was tight. The show ended on January 17th and duck season ended on the 26th. When the show ended, we got the call that a 930 was on the way. I had it in my hands by the evening of the 22nd.
The 930 Duck Commander
I am a huge fan of Realtree’s Max-4 pattern, and Max-5 is similar but a little lighter in color. There are fewer browns and more light greens. The finish is well applied and covered everything thing except the bolt, trigger and recoil pad.
The two-color front bead is interesting. It is the bright neon yellow with a red dot in the middle. It is super easy to pick out, but it is so bright that it is easy to focus on it and not on what you are aiming at. Overall, the Mossberg felt good and shouldered quickly.
Like the normal line of 930 Mossbergs, the Duck Commander 930 is chambered for 2 ¾ and 3” shells. Mossberg also ships these guns with their stock spacer system to help fit the shotgun to your frame. Every stock Mossberg shotgun I have owned or fired slaps me on the cheekbone when fired. The insert that drops the comb usually fixes this. The MSRP is $864.
Before the hunt
Normally I pattern a new shotgun before a hunt, but I didn’t have this one in far enough in advance. I live in town, and the neighbors don’t take to kindly to my shooting in the backyard. I was able to make a quick stop after work to at least test fire the 930. There wasn’t time to pattern it, but I was able to run it with some 3-inch Federal High Speed steels and a few 2.75 inch target rounds I happened to have in the truck. It functioned fine and cycled the two different loads. That would have to do, because I had a date with some ducks the next morning.
The first day
If it weren’t for this shotgun, I probably would have called off the Friday morning hunt. On the drive out to the lake, I passed a bank marquee that showed the temperature as 0. I know some of you fine folks up in the great white north like to splash around and break ice in temps below this, but to an Arkansas native, that is damn cold. Most of the lake had frozen over. After a hard 30-45 minutes of busting two-inch-thick ice, we had a passable hole. It wasn’t the best, but it had to do. The sun was almost up and shooting time was closing in.
One good thing about the cold was that we had the whole 200-acre lake to ourselves. As the sun crested the hills, we could see a flight in the distance. I started on the jerk cord and my partner Steve started in with the call. I wish I could say that we bagged our limit, but we didn’t get a single bird. We had a couple of good looks, but none came in close enough. Them’s the breaks sometimes. We took a few shots that were just at the edge of the kill zone, but without any luck.
Then we had eight nice Canadians fly right over the blind, nice and low. I was loaded with Kent #3 Fasteels, which are not my ideal choice for taking geese, but they could have gotten the job done at this range. I threw the Mossberg to my shoulder, drew down a good sight lead and… click. Light strike. I’m sure this was from the cold. But it was a missed shot at the only real opportunity of the day.
The weather was a lot better on Saturday. The temperature had been above freezing the afternoon before and had not gotten cold enough to freeze the lake up like the morning before. It was still cold, and we spent a good hour clearing our hole out, but it now touched some open water. Much better than the day before.
As we finished up with the decoys, a group of four other hunters in a boat pulled up 50-60 yards from us and started to set up. We called out to them to see if they felt they were too close to us. We would have gotten more than a peppering if they had fired towards us. Yet when we suggested they move, they refused. They claimed they couldn’t get the boat in anywhere else because of the ice.
There are almost as many thoughts on how to call ducks as there are shot in a 3” #8 shell. There are two things I will say. If you can’t make a call sound remotely close to what a real duck sounds like, let someone else try. And if you are not very good at calling, then the less you quack, the better. The yahoos who had set up next to us had no idea how to call. The call sounded like a castrated gadwall with a head cold. It was way too high pitched and too raspy, and we heard a lot of it. The same call over and cover. It was loud. Too loud. I think he must have had some fancy three-reed call with a 10 inch megaphone attached to it. That kind of loud.
The bad calls were the least of it. Twice, the jokers opened up in the general direction of ducks that were way too far out. Both of those flights were headed right at our decoys with the brakes on. No ducks this day either, but we should have had some. We would have, if Larry, Moe, Curly and Shemp hadn’t scared them off with their 80-yard warning shots.
The Curse of the Duck Commander?
I wasn’t able to get nice stringer full of ducks to show off the prowess of the new Mossberg Duck Commander 930, but it was hardly the gun’s fault. Other than the one light primer strike, the shotgun functioned as it should. After we were done both days, we ran a number of shells through it. It cycled them without fail.
As we were picking up our decoys on Saturday morning, we called out to our way-too-close neighbors to ask how long they had been duck hunting. “This is our first year,” was the reply. I have to wonder if Duck Dynasty had at least a small part in keeping the Duck Commander from getting its ducks. Still, everyone has to start somewhere. This past season, I have seen more new hunters than I can ever remember seeing in the past. No matter how you feel about the occasional missed opportunity, this increase is a really good thing. It is great seeing people young and old take to this great shooting sport—even when they might need a good lesson in etiquette.