THE HUNTER’S WAY
Eddie Jones takes us out into the field to practise what he’s been preaching
This month, I’m back out in the field doing what I like most, controlling pests around the farm. For this feature, I wanted to put into practice a few of the tips I have given for the last few months. Shooting around the farmyard offers the hunter a multitude of opportunities and can give you a very rewarding session. Not only is there usually an abundance of pests around the farm, but there are also many other species. In one of my video shoots for Air Arms, I tried to show what can be achieved, and it did not turn out as well as I’d hoped, but this time I was alone, no cameraman to worry about getting the shot, or scaring things off whilst getting in position. Last month, also saw me try some new kit, and again, it didn’t go as well as I’d planned, so I was hoping for better results this month.
Whilst looking around the farm a few days prior to this session, I noticed the wheat getting cut, so this was going to give me the opportunity for pest number one – the woodpigeon – and when walking around the buildings, I noticed a few areas that looked great for a rat or two. At this time of year, the grain store is usually stocked up and this gives many pests something to eat; collared doves especially love these stores, so you need to keep on top of them to help reduce contamination from the faeces they drop. Corvids are also definitely on your list around the farmyard, and there are a few on this farm, looking to take an easy meal from the silage mound, or the feed put out for the cows. The only problem you have when shooting these areas is being safe; before every shot you need to make sure that there isn’t a person or animal in line with what you are shooting.
DOUBLE THE ATTRACTION
At the start of the session, I had a couple of hours before the farmer and staff would be finished around the buildings for the night, so I decided to go to the field that was
cut and try the Enforcer decoys again. I found a good position under some trees where I could lie down and which would give me a nice incline to shoot against. I’d put a few branches that I had cut, along the barbed wire to give me some cover and keep me shaded, and also made sure that I had a good background to help hide any movement I made lining up for a shot.
When decoying I usually start with around five decoys in the pattern, and I try to get single birds, or maybe doubles into the pattern to avoid them getting spooked by others. As this was a big field, I decided to put 10 of the Enforcers out, to double the attraction of any passing birds.
I’d been quietly watching the fields for around 20 minutes, and had been getting some interest in the pattern, but no commitment to land. Instead, the pigeons were heading straight out into the middle of the field before settling down. This was a little frustrating, but it was early on, so I persisted with what I had set up. Another 20 pigeons passed by, and finally, I got my chance. Two birds curled around after spotting my decoys and came in perfectly against the slight breeze coming from my right.
The Ultimate Sporter was ready as soon as they landed and I wasted no time in lining up on the closest pigeon at around 30 yards. The pigeons always have a look around for a few seconds before they start bobbing their heads, feeding, and this is the time to strike! You have to be quick on to them, but not so rushed that you will miss. I gave the shot around half a mil dot for windage, pulled the trigger and the pigeon slumped forward, flapping, with a perfect head shot. This gave me the confidence to sit tight and see what I could end up with over the next hour or so before I moved into the yard.
I had a bit of luck for the next 30 minutes, and a few pigeons continued past to the middle, but I got one that peeled off and came straight into the decoys, so I was sure the detail on the Enforcer decoys were working well – even though only a few were coming into the pattern, I was getting something to shoot. I think the main numbers were already committed to
“The Ultimate Sporter was ready as soon as they landed and I wasted no time in lining up on the closest pigeon”
the middle of the field and wouldn’t have been interested if I’d real pigeons out instead of decoys. I continued until 6pm for a nice bag of seven pigeons, and I’m sure that I’d easily have tripled that had I got there in the morning, rather than late afternoon.
OUT OF RANGE
It was time to move on to the farm because I could see a few birds circling around the cattle sheds, so I knew the farmhands had finished. My first chance came when I neared the silage pile. I knew a couple of jackdaws had landed behind the wall that surrounds it, so I used the cover of the wall and slowly slid the Ultimate around before I looked myself. One of the jackdaws saw me straight away and jumped up on to the top of the wall, but two others were too busy trying to get food, so I was able to line up on one. I was waiting for what seemed an age for it to stay still and at last I had my chance. With the steady aim that I had resting against the wall, I dispatched the jackdaw cleanly. The others went crazy seeing one of their kind lying on the floor, but I stayed where I was, trying not to look directly at any bird. All the commotion going on had attracted the attention of a couple of magpies and I could see one on top of a roof ,just above the cattle pen. The magpie was looking down toward the jackdaw on the floor and I had just enough of a view of its head to get a shot. Giving a full mil- dot for wind, I sent the magpie crashing to the floor with another nice shot. After the death of the two corvids, the other jackdaws took flight to some nearby trees – they knew something was not right and stayed well out of range for ages.
Rather than waste any more time waiting, I decided to head to the grain store, and used whatever cover I could to edge myself slowly to the entrance of the building. When scanning the beams, I noticed one dove sitting tight in the corner and knew I would have no worries of the pellet going through the roof with over- penetration. These birds are very fragile, so you can guarantee your .177 pellet will go straight through them. I had the girder as my backstop and so took the shot. There was no need to compensate for wind this time, so I took an easy head shot and dropped the dove to the floor.
Rather than waste any time waiting for another, I decided to try for a rat. Time was getting on, and it was a perfect time for the rats to start venturing out to feed. I rested on a gate – in ambush mode – just waiting for a glimpse of brown fur moving around the pallets or concrete, and I was praying for my chance to get another pest off the list, when there it was! A huge rat was hiding in a shady part of the concrete. I think it knew I was there, but couldn’t see me properly. Resting as steadily as I could, I sent another Air Arms Field pellet on its way, and the shot was good; the rat lay on its side but kicking slightly. Rather than wait for it to stop kicking, I quickly put another pellet into its heart to make doubly sure, then I could retrieve it quicker and get some pictures taken whilst I had good light.
Well, that was it for the session. Using my knowledge of likely places to find the different quarry – and possibly a little luck – I managed to get five different species. I was happy with the results and look forward to getting back for another session, soon.
Looks like somebody likes Eddie
ABOVE: I was well hidden from the incoming birds
BELOW LEFT: With all my kit prepared I waited for the pigeons to arrive
ABOVE: I could see the dove and had a safe back stop for my pellet
BELOW RIGHT: Collared doves soil grain stores, reducing the value of the crop