Advanced Decoying pt. II
Well here we are in Advanced Decoying Part 2 or common sense decoying as it were. Also in this article I want to take you on a different scenario and take you away from the shotgun, in this article and think about other guns or methods that can be used for dealing with the humble WoodPigeon, for which I have such a respect for this amazing bird. It’s probably next to the hawk and falcon our greatest flyer and a real survivor so it’s a time honoured and well earned respect I have for the humble Woodpigeon. You see I shoot around 8000 acres of land ranging from large gardens and camp sites to garden centres and sports grounds, allotments and all the varied farm land. I could shoot for a month every day and not shoot the same place twice, Now this is down to the best part of twenty five years building this reputation up and doing a good job for whoever I shoot or hunt for helping them protect their land livestock crops veg etc. from vermin etc., As I have said before I have not actively looked for permission to shoot on for well over twenty years, as all mine comes from recommendations for a job well done…
One place I have had to concentrate on just recently is a well let’s just call it a sports ground, as it has been plagued with corvids and rabbits also next to this the farm crops have been getting smashed by the ever growing population of corvids and rabbits and massive flocks of the humble Wood Pigeon etc., Now shotguns are no good here! I will explain why, you see the place is full of public footpaths next to it an equestrian centre (I also look after) all around it are roads and one very busy main road at the bottom and the other side a garden centre, Now others have sat here with shot guns and indeed had some great success but also end up with the police paying them a visit and they have had the police helicopter go up in the past. Now it’s not so much the unsafe shooting, as if you limit yourself using my stop decoys (I have spoken of these in the articles flight lines and decoys and Advanced Decoying Part 1) you can get some pretty good bags. But it’s quite simply the shot fall out and the obtrusive bangs of the shotgun that get the people on edge call the police and there you have a few hours of good shooting ruined by this.
Don’t forget as I have said before a quick call to police Comms is a great way to prevent such things although the police will attend if they get a call from a member of the public but a quick call helps speed things like licence checks or data as they know who you are. Like I say I don’t like to use shot guns in such places no I find it just as effective and as much fun to use the simply brilliant Air Arms Air Rifles in my Case the S410 and the S510 and if my Daughter Emilie is shooting too her S200, So no obtrusive bangs no having to worry about shot fall out all you have to think about is safe shooting with a safe back stop etc., I will relate to you a couple of days just recently were the use of the air gun has produced some brilliant sport some reasonable bags and has not disturbed a single person around us from the sports ground equestrian centre or members of the public.
Dad and I had a call from the sports ground and the farmer saying can you come quick, and move a horde of corvids and pigeons off the crops and buildings of the sports ground The crops were being smashed and it turns out off one small field they had lost two tonnes of grain in a week (Farmer told me) and the sports ground and buildings were getting covered in bird droppings, from all the birds sitting on the them digesting the farmers valuable crops. Well of course we went out on recce and blimey they were right the place was black and blue with the corvids and pigeon alike As the crop had not been cut this limited what we could do as we just could not see the birds in the standing crop, although we did have moderate success taking perched birds from the sitty trees etc. surrounding the place that week the farmer cut all the crops and said keep on top of them as he may plant some late season something or other he had not made his mind up yet. Well my mate Gerald was over from Buckinghamshire, so he gave me a hand on a day right next to the car park of the sports ground and boy did we have a great day. I have used this method before that I am about to tell you of, You see we pulled just inside the field and with the car park next to us the birds were well used to cars etc so took no notice of us at all.
Thus the plan was hatched we would shoot from the truck and use the truck as a sort of hide, Now I don’t normally put decoys out doing this I much prefer to use the birds we shoot and build a pattern up from this fresh dead birds are always the best decoys and so thats exactly what we did. I shot the first bird within a minute of pulling up and as it was we bagged five birds before the pigeons knew what was going on so we had the start of a pattern of decoys.
Now as I have said before don’t just sit there like a limp lettuce get of your backside and get out there and get the pattern right also this sort of decoying is not so simple as you have to make the birds land and its imperative to keep that kill zone clear of dead birds, I usually use the 3 to 5 second rule here you see I have calculated you get between 3 and 5 seconds before the pigeons either see you and or take off again so you have to be ready and mount the gun smoothly and slowly as the pigeon is landing and looking were its feet are and not around for danger.
All this is no easy feat and takes years of practice and timing that I still have not mastered fully yet, I have said your decoying has to be spot on to get these birds to land and not just drop in like with a shot gun, Also if you can master this method/s then with a shot gun you will have no problem and guys who have shot with me ask frequently how the hell do you get pigeons queing up to land as they hover not a foot above the gound bird after bird jostling for a place.
Some of you have said well they must be young birds in the hight of summer on the harvest and in part yes thats true too but I have also proved this point in winter with mature birds that have been shot at all summer and winter and over clover, You have to think like the bird study them their patters their mannerisms etc this will all build you up a better picture of how to hunt them, I am the same with every bird or beast I hunt I like to get into their minds and to think like them etc..
Greg has done a cracking piece on tracking right here on The Countryman’s Diary and in part that’s comes into this here too. Anyway on with this day I had watched the pigeons feeding in small groups and larger groups and a patter started emerging a rough number 7 sort of shape and usually started with 5 or 6 pigeons feeding I have seen this in winter on clover so straight away it rang a bell, As I sat there and watched them with my field glasses (binoculars) I saw bird after bird drop into this pattern and they did not drop into waht we would call the kill zone either no they stopped about ten yards short of the bottom leg of the 7 and walked in?
The more I saw this the more I got a picture building of how to get them to decoy in range of the air rifles, So as we had already bagged 5 birds I decided to use this small pattern and see what would happen. Well blow me side ways it worked like a dream as bird after bird dropped in ten yards from the leg of my 7 pattern and walked in, We either took them were they landed or as they stopped to feed with the fresh shot decoys on the ground, I also had positioned us thirty yards from the sitty trees so we could take birds off their perches that did not drop in to the pattern this also worked like a dream and all this from shooting from the truck, I even had one bird land jump ontop of a dead bird and start having his wicked way with it I could not believe my eyes and was a first for me me.
Lets just say he died happy with a smile on his face has any of you ever had this let us know on the diary questions and answers page. Now I am not saying this will work every time from the truck but needles to say its well worth looking at this if you have this option as the birds are used to cars in many areas now, I have also used this method whilst feral shooting in farm yards etc and have taken corvids/ferals/woodpigeons/squirrels/rabbits and indeed a plague of rats using this method, I have also done this from a traditional hide when needs must, I could of easily had 200 bird days with a shotgun but the bags taken with the air rifle and focusing more on fieldcraft and decoy placement etc has really honed my skills not only as a pigeon shooter but as a marksman too as this training has taught timing and shot placement etc for the bigger rifles I use and oh so much more.
Well three days this week I have been there and no longer than three hours at most wether with my Dad or my Son Ryan or with Gerald or one of my Young sports Nick and I telle boys we have together learnt some valuable lessons on decoying the humble pigeon and the proper use of an air rifle in the right hands is a deadly combo, Also each day we had many more birds down but as sometimes happens they take off mortally wounded and drop further over in this case a garden centre that I also shoot just over the main road but instead of retrieving them I have a deal with the center owner who picks them up with his gun dog and he keeps them for the table, Also whilst shooting from the truck we also had not only bagged pigeons but also a squirrel and corvids too as well as Gerald bagged four nice bunnies with the trusty ole Air Arms S510, And before I get hundreds of questions what pellets do I use I only use Air Arms Field Diablos in all my Air Arms guns as both the guns and the pellets do what it says on the tin and kills cleanly humanly and accurately and are reliable time and time again. Well until part 3 of Advanced Decoying may I wish you all straight barrels and dry powder or air in this case and and if you have any questions or seek advice drop us a line at The Countryman’s Diary written by Hunters for Hunters, Remember shoot safe, shoot well and use common sense and take a young sport with you and teach them the proper ways of The Countryman. Advanced Decoying part 2 ( Air Rifle Mania ) By The Ole Hedge Creeper AKA: Rob Collins.
Regards Rob Collins(Chairman)