MICK GAR­VEY

... WITH THE EN­FORCERS

Airgun World - - Contents -

Fol­low­ing up on last month’s day out with Air­gun World reader, Steve, and the ar­rival of young pheas­ants on my per­mis­sion, I once again took up the of­fer from Steve to join him on his land for a day, for the pi­geons on re­cently cut wheat and bar­ley. The pheas­ant poults needed time to ad­just after just be­ing de­liv­ered, al­though my move­ments are al­ways car­ried out with ul­ti­mate re­gard for the game­birds be­ing ei­ther young or es­tab­lished be­cause it is part of my re­mit to take care of th­ese birds and their habi­tat, but I have an­other area where the squir­rels hang out, and this will be get­ting my at­ten­tion un­til the start of the sea­son. In the back of my mind, I re­alise that the keep­ers prob­a­bly cause more dis­tur­bance with the reg­u­lar feed­ing and wa­ter­ing vis­its, com­pared to my stealthy, highly con­cealed silent ap­proach, and I have been made aware of many a heated de­bate re­gard­ing this and dis­cussed it with quite a few fel­low shoot­ers. We are the un­paid ex­tra eyes and ears in the woods, keep­ing our­selves un­no­ticed but alert to any un­wanted in­tru­sions from lost walk­ers, and even worse, the poach­ers tak­ing what’s not theirs and what oth­ers have put so much time and ef­fort into ... phew! With that off my chest, it’s back to to­day’s events.

BUSY TIMES

I had been keep­ing my­self busy on my own fresh-cut rape-seed, wheat and bar­ley fields and with my new En­forcer de­coys I had en­joyed some de­cent days, with bags in the 40s, 30s, and a cou­ple of 20s, which with an air ri­fle is not bad at all, es­pe­cially when the wood­ies and fer­als aren’t feed­ing too con­fi­dently. As air­gun­ners, we don’t have the same ap­proach as shot­gun­ners. We have to get the pi­geons on the ground and down long enough to get a shot off, and I find three sec­onds is about all you’ll get if they aren’t on the feed con­fi­dently. Shot­guns have a much more leisurely method of at­tack, send­ing a full load of lead to in­ter­cept the pi­geons that are com­ing into the pat­tern, and be­fore the shotty boys and girls get up­set with me, I ap­pre­ci­ate it’s a skill and some­thing I haven’t prac­tised enough, but I firmly be­lieve our job is more of an ex­act science. We use a sin­gle pel­let into a de­fin­i­tive kill spot, ei­ther the head or be­tween the shoul­ders, and bring the birds to our pat­tern in a con­fi­dent man­ner, long enough to get the shot.

My best-ever day saw me take 91 and at the end of it I felt trau­ma­tised, fa­tigued, cov­ered in blood, sweat and al­most tears, and re­cent re­sults had shown me that the En­forcer de­coys worked, and worked well, so Ste­vie’s pi­geons were about to get hit hard.

TWO-PRONGED AT­TACK

We met up at my host’s home again, but this time we had break­fast at Steve’s favourite and lo­cal, lay-by greasy spoon, al­though it was any­thing but greasy. I set­tled for a ba­con and egg sand­wich, and Steve opted for the full monty but low-carb plate­ful. Steve has lost over four stone re­cently by cut­ting out carbs, sugar and ce­re­als, and like his shoot­ing, has worked hard at it. Well done, sir!!

The jour­ney to our area was short and as we en­tered the field, a hand­ful of fer­als took flight. Un­for­tu­nately, th­ese would not be on the hit list be­cause a lo­cal was feed­ing them, and there was a few ‘lost homers’ among them, so it would be ‘wood­ies only’ here. We had al­ready de­cided on a two pronged at­tack, with me at the far end and Steve near the en­trance gate – this should keep them mov­ing be­tween us. There had been plenty of ac­tiv­ity here and my host was con­fi­dent of ‘hav­ing a few’, and with my En­forcers wait­ing to do their part, so was I. A flurry of ac­tiv­ity as we ap­proached my spot sent us both wide-eyed as four squir­rels made their way over the wall and into the ad­ja­cent wood. The wood wasn’t part of Steve’s per­mis­sion, so there was no chance of a stalk for the skin­nies, al­though he does have the okay to re­trieve any dropped pi­geons from this wood­land. I sug­gested that this would make a great place for a feeder and he as­sured me he’ll be on it asap.

FIRST KILL

I set up us­ing my army-is­sue cammo net­ting, with the Jack Pyke stub­ble cammo net as a base layer, and from the field I have to say it looked im­pres­sive. Util­is­ing my old shoot­ing tri­pod and over­look­ing a semi-ran­dom

horse­shoe pat­tern I was ready and the wait be­gan. Thirty min­utes in, noth­ing had landed and only a cou­ple of the off-limit fer­als had buzzed the pat­tern, but whilst mak­ing changes to the de­coys I spot­ted a fox run­ning down the edge of the wall and that got me think­ing this could be the rea­son for the lack of quarry. Whilst pon­der­ing my next move, I sensed move­ment to my right and two of the squir­rels had re­turned to the ex­act same spot they were at pre­vi­ously, and after slowly mov­ing the Wild­cat into free­stand­ing po­si­tion, I made the shot and took my first kill of the day. It tum­bled over the wall into the wood, so I un­loaded the gun and placed the mag­a­zine in my pocket, checked the area for any­one walk­ing, and left the gun un­der my de­coy bag while I re­trieved the skinny.

AC­CORD­ING TO PLAN

I could see a few pi­geons drop­ping in near Steve, but wasn’t sure if he’d man­aged a shot. Not long after, a text came, ask­ing how I was

“we stayed on later than planned, tak­ing some great shots be­tween us”

get­ting on, so with only two pi­geons for Steve, and my sin­gle skinny, we de­cided to move to an­other field. It can be strange how days pan out; there had been plenty of ac­tiv­ity on this field over the last few days, but to­day was a no-show for the wood­ies. The next field looked bet­ter, with cat­tle graz­ing in the first half, seg­re­gated from us by an elec­tric fence, a hedge-line down one side and a cou­ple of sitty trees on the op­po­site side. We would set up a sin­gle hide for the both of us from all our gear, and from the field it again looked per­fect. With the wind in our faces the pi­geons should come straight down the bar­rel to us, we could see them com­ing from fields away, and if they veered off to the sitty trees, we could still mon­i­tor their move­ments.

DIF­FER­ENT PAT­TERN

This time, I opted for a more uni­form pat­tern for the de­coys and I had no sooner re­turned to the hide than Steve dropped an­other woodie that had come straight to the cen­tre of the pat­tern – it was my turn to feel some relief from the pres­sure of sup­ply­ing the de­coys. The plan was for me to take the longer shots with the FAC Wild­cat, and for my host to take the closer shots with his trusty HW100 FSB car­bine with the Huggett Belita mod.

This is where I should tell you ev­ery­thing went to plan and we bagged up; well, we did, and the plan worked bril­liantly. Fu­elled by our en­thu­si­asm, we stayed on un­til later than planned, tak­ing some great shots be­tween us.

With a sin­gle feral ly­ing up­side down an in­com­ing woodie skirted off at the last minute and landed a cou­ple of trees down from us. Once we had spot­ted it and de­cided it was a shot for the Wild­cat, I had to po­si­tion my­self and the gun to weave a path for the 18gr Air Arms Di­abolo. A gen­tle breeze had the leaves mov­ing slightly, but I got my­self into the rhythm of the mov­ing fo­liage, cor­rected my breath­ing and a plump woodie dropped like a stone with a crack­ing head­shot – even if I do say so my­self.

CON­VINC­ING DEEKS

I turned my at­ten­tion back to the pat­tern and had to ad­just my eyes and blink a cou­ple of times be­cause a spar­rowhawk was tear­ing into one of the En­forcer de­coys – tes­ta­ment to the life­like look they have. We shooed it off, re­set the pat­tern and agreed to stay for an­other 30 min­utes, both tak­ing birds from our des­ig­nated ar­eas. Once again, Steve got all ex­cited when I took a brace of wood­ies shot­gun style – left and right, with­out even tak­ing my eye from the Hawke Air­max, and in­dex­ing the mag whilst mov­ing the gun round. I was quite chuffed with that one.

SHOCK­INGLY GOOD DAY

We ended up with 30 wood­ies, 3 fer­als and a skinny, and al­though not the big­gest bag of late, it was def­i­nitely the most en­joy­able by far. I do pre­fer my own com­pany and to be at one with my­self, but once in a while you meet some­one who has the same en­thu­si­asm as your­self, and ev­ery­thing gels into place. All the tak­ings went to the bird of prey cen­tre – they must have the best fed birds in the area!

To top off the day, I man­aged to give my­self a cou­ple of shocks from the elec­tric cat­tle fence and added to the deep cut I gave my­self from a barbed wire fence ear­lier in the month, but I was still on cloud nine. Thanks, Ste­vie mate. I re­ally en­joyed your com­pany and our ban­ter. I’m al­ready look­ing for­ward to the next one. I

A bird or two in the hand …

Plenty of in­ter­est from the wood­ies on the rape­seed.

Rape­seed – black gold.

Pretty im­pres­sive, even if I say so my­self.

En­forcers brought them in and the FX took them down.

Take aim – fire!

Which is which? An­other DJD con­vert.

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