THE HUNTER’S WAY

Ed­die Jones takes us out into the field to prac­tise what he’s been preach­ing

Air Gunner - - Contents -

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.

FRAG­ILE BIRDS

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

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