The pi­geons on my per­mis­sion have be­come eas­ily spooked

Sporting Shooter - - Experts -

QI have quite a large acreage in the Mid­lands where I have per­mis­sion to shoot pi­geons. How­ever, sev­eral other shoot­ers also now have ac­cess to the ground since a new farm man­ager be­gan let­ting friends shoot there. I’ve no­ticed that the birds seem much flight­ier than pre­vi­ously – they aren’t gen­er­ally as low and they seem more likely to spook than in the past. Is this re­ally pos­si­ble or am I just imag­in­ing it?

AANDY CROW replies: Any wild an­i­mal, if pres­sured in some way, will adapt its be­hav­iour. Deer will be­come noc­tur­nal, foxes will be­come lamp shy and in my opin­ion, pi­geons do learn to be more wary of cer­tain ar­eas or cer­tain things.

I never shoot at large flocks of birds, and when the birds are de­coy­ing, I gen­er­ally like to shoot them as close as pos­si­ble to en­sure I'm go­ing to kill them cleanly.

If you shoot at and miss a bird – or even worse a cou­ple of hun­dred birds – they are un­likely to be as con­fi­dent next time they ap­proach a cer­tain area. Like­wise, in my ex­pe­ri­ence, pi­geons seem to be able to iden­tify equip­ment such as a whirly or flap­per and can shy away if they as­so­ci­ate the item with dan­ger.

If they are be­ing shot at on a reg­u­lar ba­sis they aren’t go­ing to be hang­ing around! Re­mem­ber, as well, that at this time of year there aren’t any ju­ve­niles around yet, only older, wiser birds that have sur­vived.

Many of those 'sui­ci­dal' birds that de­coy like mad af­ter har­vest are young­sters that haven't learned to be fear­ful or cau­tious.

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