The edi­tor is out af­ter pi­geons again, with some new in­for­ma­tion

Air Gunner - - Hunting -

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.

Old de­coys

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.

Nat­u­ral hunter

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

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