Eddie Jones is decoying pigeons in his favourite kit
Eddie looks back on an eventful summer, sorts out his autumn hunting wardrobe - and bags ten pigeons and a magpie!
By the time you read this, our summer should well and truly be gone, and the cooler air along with stunning colour changes in our landscapes will show the arrival of autumn. So what has this summer been like for me? Well, it has been good as a whole. I have had some really good days and some proper nightmares that you never want to happen. We all like to remember the good ones the most, but those bad days can give us lessons that we should take on board, to learn from and so eliminate any mistakes for future hunts.
This summer I’ve been doing something different for a change because I was invited to take part in some filming for my sponsor, Air Arms. The short videos were not for me to go out and shoot everything in sight, but to show why we go out to control pests – with a little shooting action thrown in. I was happy doing this, even though I am a nightmare on film – it just isn’t me, but I tried my best. We get so much bad press for shooting animals today, so to bring out something that might educate non-shooters is a winner in my eyes.
A CHANGE OF MIND
I showed the video to some work colleagues who I know are pretty anti-shooting and understandably, they found the shooting bit hard to watch, but listening to why we control the pests we shoot did have a positive effect and I’m not looked upon like a blood-thirsty killer any more. The videos have had a great response from viewers, so you never know, there might be more in the pipeline in the future.
This summer has also given me chance to give the new Galahad a real test on all pest species. I have the .177 and the .22 FAC and both have delivered faultless results. It took some getting used to at first; the low cheek piece and higher mount set-up felt weird, but I soon got used to the aim points on the Hawke Sidewinder and Airmax for the different distances and angles.
FEEL THE FLEECE
I have also been asked about the clothing I wear, so here’s a low- down of the gear I am wearing now. The newest addition to my clothing is the new fleece range, something that I have been waiting for a long time
from Jack Pyke. The range has a Fieldman hoodie and a fleece pullover; the hoodie comes in a plain green colour or the English oak pattern, but the pullover is in English Oak only. These tops have become firm favourites of mine when shooting during the day and at night.
I wear the Countryman Trousers all the time now, and they are perfect for any situation; silent when stalking and waterproof on the butt for when you want to sit down because they are reinforced with 600D waterproof Oxford Cordura at the knees and seat. They also have two front upper pockets, two cargo pockets with flaps, rear zipped pockets, adjustable Velcro ankle fastening, belt loops, and fly zip.
The boots that I use have been the brilliant, too. I still have the same pair that I was first given to try over four years ago. I wear them sometimes when sea fishing and they are still leak free. The Fieldman boots are made from full-grain leather, supported by a Vibram trek rubber sole, a high rubber rand for all terrain protection, and a Hydroguard membrane – which is waterproof and breathable, with 200gms insulation. The Agion anti-microbial treatment (odour resistant) part I really like, also a padded tongue and heel with a speed-lace system. The Jack Pyke head net, gloves and cap complement it all, and there is the kit that I’ve been using this summer. I will most definitely be wearing it through the winter, but it will be accompanied by some warmer gear that I will share in future articles.
So, let’s get to some pest control. The latest video that I did was shooting woodpigeons, but when filming these videos you don’t get much shooting time. What with all the ‘ takes’ that we had to do, which were mainly my fault, shooting is probably the least bit filmed so I wanted to have another go at this location and see what I could get on my own.
I arrived at the ground around the same time, about 130pm, set up the hide in ten minutes, and placed out the decoys. In the film, I had placed them on a muck pile behind the trees, but this time I thought I’d place some on the grass between me and the trees, too. The trees I had in front of me were more of a rest area, and although I had a large muck pile 100 yards to my left, there was nowhere that I could build a hide. I was trying to pull them away from that, and hoped they would land in the trees to take a look at my decoys. There was still a lot of cover on the branches and this made it a bit harder to find the pigeons, but I was using the FAC Galahad, so if a side- on shot did present itself, I was confident that the .22 pellet would knock it down just as effectively as a head shot.
The hide is made from four Jack Pyke hide poles, which are very good for getting in the ground and are solid when fixed in place. I then cover it with army DPM netting on the outside, but I will use a Jack Pyke clear-view hide net behind it, and to finish it off I use a little of the natural flora around me. When shooting from a hide, I usually like to find a nice rest to shoot from, but today I had to use my trigger sticks because there was no natural rest. This definitely helps to give you the steadiest shot possible for a clean kill.
It was a slow start, and only one pigeon had come in after an hour. In the film it had been better, so it was not looking good. Patience is the key when pigeonshooting from a hide, so I was not too worried, but things do start going through your mind. The next hour was a bit better, though. I managed two more pigeons and a bonus magpie that had dropped in to check out one of the dead pigeons. The wind was now causing problems too, and the gusts were pretty strong, I would say up to 30- 40 mph, so if the pigeons dropped onto the thinner branches, it was too difficult to guarantee a clean hit, so although I had only shot a few so far, I was getting more come in to rest.
BUILDING A BAG
The next couple of hours were frustrating. Nearly every pigeon was landing in the thickest part of the tree where they were covered, or on the thin branches. However, those that had opted for the thicker branches were cleanly dispatched. I had now got eight pigeons and the magpie, but the rain showers that had been forecast had now started and conditions were not very comfortable. I braved a good few more downpours before I decided enough was enough, and as soon as I thought the gear was dry, I packed up as quickly as possible. I had finished with ten pigeons and a magpie, a bit better than the previous outing and without the wind and rain I would definitely have been in the 20-plus range. I will be keeping an eye on this spot for the next few weeks and I might just get that bumper bag.
Not my biggest bag, but I was happy with it considering the conditions
I love these boots and they’ve lasted well
My new trousers have loads of storage pockets and are comfortable
The backside and knees have waterproof reinforcement
I’m finding the new fleece hoodie very useful
I like to have a good solid rifle rest in the hide
Adding some local foliage seems to make a difference
Jack Pyke’s hide poles are easy to transport and strong in use