With that in mind….It was foggy as I drove to Tim and Matt’s farm – so I wondered if the mistiness would keep the pigeons on their night perches longer than normal. Are you a pilot? Visual flight rules require a 1,000-foot ceiling and three miles of visibility. Pest pigeons don’t need that much. The farm has a long driveway, and the fog was beginning to lift as my station wagon’s tires tossed limestone against the inner fenders. I parked short of where I’d be shooting – in case any birds had already flown in to fill their gullets on the farm’s dairy cow silage.
This was the first test for a brand new over and under, one I had bought, not one on short consignment to test for a magazine article. I had the over/under broken down in a Negrini case. Not hurrying, I married the barrels to the receiver and then snapped on the rounded forend. I had handed it to my friend Jim Buzzard the day before. He smiled as he fondled, eyed and shoulder my new piece, and then commented, “It feels so lithe, so light, so balanced, so wanting to be shot.”
But until this morning at the dairy farm I had not shot this gun. Even took it to the gun club, but wasn’t anxious to put the first lead through the barrels — yet. Even took it on a pigeon hunt the day before, but I wasn’t yet ready to hassle its pristine looks; this morning I was ready.
When the alarm goes off on a hunting morning my feet don’t usually hit the floor within seconds. But after a minute or so and I am up — and my whole inner perspective changes. I feel the excitement. Inner excitement builds as I drive to the hunt. Pest pigeons always excite me, but I was never more fired up than the morning in question — for I had “work” to do, work to see if this Inverness 20-gauge over/under met all the hype — if the gun would be effective on Tim and Matt’s pests.
The farm dogs were announcing my arrival as I shut the car door. My shooting pouch was in place and full, ear plugs in, shooting stool in one hand, gun in the other — I rounded a slight bend to see 25 to 30 pigeons erupt from further down the driveway. So much for 1,000 foot ceilings and three mile visibilities as these birds had already fed and were taking on grit. Time to scold myself for not setting the alarm earlier.
But several of the flock made the mistake of flying west to east offering a crossing shot. The Inverness barked twice and a duet of pests twisted and somersaulted to the ground. Quickly reloading — one of their brethren circled and flew back — no doubt checking on the buddy’s whereabouts. Big mistake! With the first three shots the new Inverness had accounted for a trio of birds, including a double the first time I shot it. We’ve heard about storybook finishes, but how about this storybook start!
I was banging away considerably for another 10 to 15 minutes and then the high action calmed a bit. The lull gave me time to take my place on the stool and start scanning skyward — the beautiful Inverness across my lap. I smoothed my right hand over the flat of the butt stock’s right side, wondering how a piece of walnut could end up so very dead but so uncompromisingly beautiful. Still stroking the wood I looked up and around — no birds — so I concentrated on the receiver eye candy.
Bone charcoal case hardening meant color variations galore, including orange and blue but numerous others as well. Further, I marveled at the true round body action — how elegantly that round receiver set the gun off. Pulling the Inverness receiver closer to my eyes I took the time to focus on the intricate scroll engraving — capped off with who knows how many engraved bouquets.
Just then a telltale shadow passed in front, and I knew what that meant – more work to do. Camo gloves, camo face net and full camo clothing - hopefully had me hidden enough that the quarry would make another pass. They did. Another mistake. Instead of a double I had to stay with the first bird I hit as it wasn’t stone dead. But the load in the top barrel centered that one.
Time to take up my vigil from my stool again. Within minutes, however, I was back to studying the Inverness. I noted how that rose and bouquet engraving covered everything made of metal. With a traditional receiver there’s engraving on each side — sometimes differing — as well as different engraving on the receiver bottom. This isn’t true with the round body Inverness receiver. The engraving is the same on both sides and the bottom; it just “wraps around.” Further, there’s the same type of engraving on the fore-end iron, the top tang, the opening lever, the trigger guard and even the pistol grip cap.
But the pigeons won’t let me continue this reverie. A flock of six has decided that the silage Matt has spread on the cement just outside the cow barn looks too inviting and appetizing. As they swoop in for a meal I stand and cause the Inverness to speak twice. Not a double, but one falls. One circles to return, maybe the just dead bird’s mommy or daddy, and that one pays the ultimate price.
The Inverness grip is fairly open, not tight like most of today’s competition sporting guns. That already mentioned grip cap – is totally 100 percent engraved. The fore-end is rounded, but not in the same configuration of roundness like the Browning Lightning. The impeccable checkering wraps around the forend, plus there’s plenty of the same on both sides of the pistol grip — a two-point pattern at 24-lines-to-the-inch – so more pleasurable eye candy.
The recoil pad is slick and smooth with a black spacer separating the pad from the stock. The vent rib on top is fairly thin as a 20 bore rib should be, as well as with a slight taper. There are side panels between the top and bottom barrels, but not under the forend. A unique rib is attached to the barrels under the forend. Upon attaching, the top of the forend is perfectly married to that side rib.
Another four make a pass over the barn with adjacent silage so the Inverness went into action again — the final result a resounding thud as one dead pigeon crashed against the barn’s metal roof. The cows, apparently accustomed to this noise never stopped munching. The cows stick their heads out of individual places to feed on the silage that Matt spreads on the cement with heavy farm equipment. Thus the corn in the silage is as available to the pest pigeons as to the diary cows. Matt and Tim hate these pigeons. That’s why I’m welcome to shoot right at their barn and silos.
Time to sit and admire the Inverness again. The barrels are 28-inches, but 30-inchers are available. Those barrels wear Tuff Bore — Connecticut’s own coating that the company says makes it safe to shoot steel or any other current non-toxic shot. Further the barrels are Crio treated — the deep freeze process that relieves molecular stress. The five screw chokes from Trulock are bright and shiny in Skeet, Improved Cylinder, Modified, Improved Modified and Full. They, too, are safe with steel.
Not my favorite shot in South America the next pigeon shot is an incomer that I take just before the bird passes overhead. Feathers fly and this pigeon with white wings and white underbelly twists down in odd gyrations. When you breathe deeply to figuratively smell the roses on one of these pigeon shoots it’s not roses you smell. Its cow manure, so if you want to become a pigeon shooter better get used to the pungency.
Weight of my gun is 6 pounds, 8 ounces. Regarding the gun’s ejectors, sometimes I catch the ready-to-fly empties to put them in my shell pouch, but if birds are circling, promising more shooting, I let the empties fly so I can reload quicker and then scoop up the empties on the ground when the action calms down.
My 20-gauge reloads for pigeons are nothing exceptional – ⅞ ounce of #7 Magnum. That shot size is tough to find in factory fodder, but I have no trouble finding 25-pound bags of #7 Magnum. I like to use the same shot size in my 28 gauge guns, but one must be very careful as the larger #7 shot does sometimes collect in the shot drop tube. The results are spilled shot — a reloader’s nightmare.
The Inverness stock dimensions are 14⅜ x 1⅜x 2½. The barrel selector is a part of the top tang safety. Upgrades can be in the walnut of your choosing as well as a leather covered recoil pad. Chose between a straight-grip or pistol grip at the same price. Connecticut Shotgun Manufacturing Company says prices for the Inverness start at $6,995.
After this morning’s Inverness introduction I was certainly impressed with the gun’s capabilities. It was easy to see its potential as 27 pest pigeons had died and made Tim and Matt very happy. I know this gun is going to be a big part of my shooting psyche for many a moon to come.
(Read Nick’s Shotgun Life story “The Secrets to Pest Pigeon Shooting” at http://tinyurl.com/qj6ck7q).
The web site for the Connecticut Shotgun Manufacturing Company