When the name Weatherby is brought up to any hunter or shooter, most think of the ultra high velocity rifles Weatherby is known for and rightfully so. But, did you know they also make shotguns? Yes that’s right, shotguns. These aren’t just any shotguns either; the company’s lifeblood of exceptional fit and finish courses through their veins and is readily apparent along their sleek lines.
I will admit, when I was in the market for a new quack smacker (anything smacker for that matter) Weatherby was barely on my radar but having drank the Kool-Aid with their rifles I figured their shotguns were of the same reputation. Thus my research began.
Much to my surprise there was not a ton to be found on a Weatherby scattergun. I watched a few videos, read a review or two and perused some forum debates (we all know how those “expert” dialogues go), and that was about it.
Having shot my fair share of pump, gas and inertia guns over the years my curiosity was more than piqued to see how the Element Waterfowler would stack up.
Living in North-central Wyoming doesn’t lend itself to the procurement of much other than life sustaining items such as groceries, water and…well, that’s about it. Would I have it any other way? No, but that’s a conversation for another time.
So, with no Element shotgun within 400 miles to be held, I reached out to Justin Moore, the Director of Marketing and Communications at Weatherby to see if we could find a solution. Having worked with Justin in the past, it was nice reacquainting with an industry friend as too much time had passed. With our jovial jest out of the way, our discussion turned to shotguns.
At this point I was completely consternated as to which shotgun I wanted to test and hopefully purchase. I am a creature of habit and the venerable SA-08 was pulling at the gas gun loving valves of my heart but the Element was just sitting there silently taunting me with new, innovative features not found on any other gun at this price point.
My emotional distress must have been readily apparent to Justin as he offered to end my misery by sending them both! Wow! I had two weeks of ducks season left and two shotguns that I had been drooling over for three months en route!
I don’t think a straight jacket could have kept me in my chair when those slender brown boxes arrived at my office. I ripped them open and assembled the contents within. I swear I saw a celestial beam of light shinning down from above.
Now what to do? I only have two hands, I have to walk a half mile into my favorite duck hole with everything on my back; no way could I carry two guns. So, I guess I will have to take two mornings off of work and hunt ducks, oh the agony!
My first morning in I had the Element in hand and Kent Fasteel 3” 1-1/4 oz. of #2’s in the bandolier. I clicked on my headlamp, slung my decoy pack on my back and made the trek to my favorite river braid a half-mile distant. The dark skies revealed a multitude of stars and the silence was punctuated by my labored breaths and the occasional whistling of wings as I drew nearer to the river.
The face-slapping willows quickly gave way to the rushing water as I jumped in to get my spread out. At a balmy -10 my breath was making it difficult to see what I was doing in the narrow beam of my headlamp. With my blocks out, I settled back into my logjam blind, poured a cup of coffee and watched the sun make its appearance.
Right at shooting light, three greenheads screamed in like meteors. I spilled my coffee reaching for the Element, but it didn’t matter as the adrenaline instantly warmed my body. I would like to say with three, smooth trigger pulls I neatly dropped all three but in reality I completely missed the first two and managed to down the third with a hurried last shot in the main river current.
I didn’t think anything of it and ran out to the bobbing drake. That’s when it happened. I slowed down and reached out as far as I could to grab the duck that was swiftly floating by. I just needed one more step and I would have him. The next thing I knew the gravel bottom gave way and I was immersed in the main river channel. I managed to grab a breath of air before I was swept under the surface. Thank the good Lord above that I was wearing my ammo belt cinched down tight and an unseen gravel bar allowed me to gain my feet a short distance later.
At this point I felt like a Navy SEAL in their cold-water immersion training. As I gained my feet, I dumped water out of the barrel, sprinted the rest of the way to the drake and headed for shore. I was slightly dazed; a little worried about hypothermia in the frigid temps and concerned about the gun.
A brief visual check revealed no blockages in the chrome-lined barrel and the inertia action cycled flawlessly. Just about the time I felt confident the gun was functional a lone drake started his inspection of my decoys. As
he circled the first time I loaded two shells. On the second time around he was within range. Well, here goes nothing.
As the fiber optic bead found its mark, I slapped the trigger and a load of #2’s reduced him to my possession. With my confidence now fully restored in the gun, I grabbed my call and worked a small but distant group of mallards. They apparently had other intentions.
During the initial flurry of activity I hadn’t paid much attention to my condition. My jacket was freezing solid and I was getting colder than I realized. There were more ducks in the air but now the question was how stupid was I going to be? I decided to be a little stupid but not put my life in danger to kill a limit stupid.
As I looked up contemplating my predicament I saw a lone mallard on the horizon making a beeline right for me. With numb fingers I fumbled for my call and blew into it. Nothing, damn! Frozen solid!
As the drake neared he apparently liked what he saw and dropped the landing gear. At three feet above the water the anti-aircraft gun barked to life and the mallard crumpled into the eddy. With three greenheads in hand, my core temperature dropping and a new learning experience under my belt I decided to call it quits.
As I kicked the heater on in my truck, I realized I had just submersion/gravel/sand/ice tested the Element. Not much more I could put it through really and it functioned flawlessly. I was more than sold at this point but wanted to get home and break the gun down for a thorough cleaning.
Once at home, I broke down the gun to all its components and I was shocked at how few moving parts it really had, a testament to its reliability in all conditions. I cleaned all the parts and reassembled it then sat back and strategized my approach for the next morning with the SA-08. No, it didn’t include another baptism but that’s a story for another time.
Below is a list of features and benefits of the Element to hopefully help you make a decision if you’re in the market for a new shotgun….
Multi-Choke System: Provides versatile shooting performance across a wide range of hunting applications. The Element is provided with four chokes, IC, Mod, Full and Long Range Steel.
About the Author:
Dan Turvey, Jr. has been hunting the Mississippi, Central and Pacific flyways for over 20 years. He started out jump shooting small streams in Southcentral Montana and since, his fowling obsession has taken him to multiple states in pursuit of all duck varieties. As a dedicated river rat, Dan loves the unique challenges of do-it-yourself waterfowling on Western rivers.