The pigeons on my permission have become easily spooked
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.