DECOYING DELIGHT PART 2
The editor is out after pigeons again, with some new information
Last month, I achieved one of my goals for the year which was to get out pigeon decoying and, despite some problems, I really enjoyed myself. I’m always keen to learn, and after talking to some very experienced airgun decoyers I felt better informed and better prepared to go again. An afternoon became free and although the conditions were stinking hot and humid, Georgie, my Labrador, and I set off to a different part of the farm that had just been harvested.
Dry conditions allowed me to drive my road car right to where I planned to put my hide, which was a real treat. The area I shoot over is clay, and one drop of rain turns it into the slipperiest goo you can imagine, so even good 4x4s struggle to move on it.
Because the garden poles I’d taken last time failed, I packed five, steel track pins and a 4lb club hammer. Stealthy, I was not, but I was able to put my hide just where I wanted and it stayed put with no problems. At first, I put one of Jack Pyke’s ClearView nets across the front, but soon decided that their cut-leaf one allowed me to see the incoming birds better, so I put the ClearView over the top.
I set out a pattern of my old decoys quite widely and put my crow decoy some 70 yards away to one side, to reassure the pigeons that all was well. The sun was beating down by the time Georgie and I settled in the hide and that was when I realised another mistake; there was a slight fall in the ground so I couldn’t see the decoys, which meant I wouldn’t be able to see the birds either. Bugger! My view sitting on the ground was completely different to when I was standing, so out I went, collected the decoys and repositioned them on a flatter piece of the field.
Birds were soon attracted, but fewer
“I wondered if the old, shiny decoys were reflecting the sun, so I swapped them for some flock- bodied ones”
landed than last time and I began to wonder what the problem was. I wondered if the old, shiny decoys were reflecting the sun, so I swapped them for some flock-bodied ones. Phil Hardman, who writes for Airgun World, has given me a good tip which I used. He told me to place the decoys amongst any standing stalks, or in tractor ruts, so that the birds don’t get such a good look at them after they’ve landed - from the air, they’ll still be seen easily.
With these two changes made, the incoming birds gained the confidence to land and I could begin shooting. Because of the stubble, head shots were the only real choice; I tried a couple ‘ between the shoulders’ shots by attempting to thread a pellet through a gap, but any contact between the pellet and a hard barley stalk ended up in a miss, so I gave that up as a bad job.
I found out something interesting. I gave Georgie her water bowl as we settled in and she had a good drink, but as soon as I fired the first shot and she made the retrieve, she didn’t drink again. She appeared to go into ‘ hunting mode’ and despite the cool water being right in front of her, wouldn’t touch it. I watched her eyes follow each and every bird as it approached, locked on, and expecting me to do my job so that she could do hers. I could almost imagine her willing me to make the kill.
She might not have wanted to drink, but sitting in full sun for hours I’d soon drunk the two litres of water I’d taken for myself, and was in need of more. Then a thought struck me. I put the rifle and Georgie into the car and drove for two minutes to the village shop where I bought more water and an ice cream and then headed back to the hide. I doubt I was gone five minutes and was then scoffing a Magnum and sipping chilled water in the hide. Now that’s my kind of hunting!
One by one, the bag was building and by the time I needed to go, I had a dozen fat pigeons to take to the kitchen. So what did I learn this time? Better decoys really help, and Phil’s tip worked well. Be aware of their placement from your shooting position. Take more water in the car just in case. Hammering in steel track pins wasn’t ideal, so I’ve ordered some proper hide poles from Jack Pyke, which I’ll try out next time.
I’ve also been sent some new decoys called ‘ Enforcer’, from DJ Decoys, which are very detailed and guaranteed not to reflect sunshine. They’re also 10% larger than life size to make them more visible from a distance, and I’ll be using them next time I go out. Unfortunately, the stubbles are being ploughed as I write, and I may have missed the best of this year’s harvest, but never mind. I’m sure I can find where the pigeons are eating and I’ll try my luck again soon against these wonderful birds.
“One by one the bag was building and by the time I needed to go, I had a dozen fat pigeons to take to the kitchen”
Main: Georgie and I got comfortable and waited for the action Left: By hiding the decoys in the stubble, the pigeons are less likely to see that they’re not real
Left: If a flapping bird leaves feathers, clear them away so that they don’t warn incoming birds Below: A decent bag and a happy dog. Excellent! Bottom: It was a simple hide that worked perfectly