THE HUNTER’S WAY

Ed­die Jones is af­ter pi­geons with some new kit and his good lady

Air Gunner - - Contents -

Ed­die Jones tells us how to get the best from a pi­geon shoot­ing day in high sum­mer

“Find­ing the pi­geons’ flight lines will give you the big­gest ad­van­tage”

Since writ­ing the fea­tures about the most com­mon species that we con­trol on our rounds, I have been asked how much kit I would take for a typ­i­cal de­coy­ing ses­sion. When I first started out, I would just take a few de­coys, some small sticks with a sharp end for the de­coys to be pegged into the ground, and a bit of old army camo net. This was all I wanted to carry on a warm sum­mer’s af­ter­noon. It did get me a few shots, and that’s okay if you are just hav­ing a nice chilled ses­sion, but I later found out that it was not enough if I wanted a big bag of pi­geons.

When shoot­ing over stub­ble, you can get some great bags, and there are guys out there who have shot near on 100 pi­geons in one ses­sion with an air ri­fle. I have not been so lucky, though. I think my big­gest bag was around 50- 60, but you need the pi­geons in your area to get this kind of day to start with.

In the early spring, you will have clover as the main diet, so any pad­docks or grass fields on your shoot will pro­duce good num­bers at times, but once the crops are cut, you re­ally need to go out and find those large flocks and be ready for them.

Find­ing the pi­geons’ flight lines will give you the big­gest ad­van­tage of getting in amongst them from the off. If the pi­geons can feed with­out dis­tur­bance, they will usu­ally come in for as long as the stub­ble is around. These days, you need to be on your game be­cause farm­ers soon plough the fields over and re- sow them, so it will be good to have a chat with the farmer and ask when they will be cut­ting and re- seed­ing.

Know­ing where the pi­geons usu­ally come in re­gard­ing the wind di­rec­tion onto the fields is also a big ad­van­tage. If you can catch their eye with the few de­coys that you have taken, then you should also be able to use the shot pi­geons that you get early on, to build up a good re­al­is­tic pat­tern to keep them com­ing for as long as pos­si­ble.

GIRLY COLOURS

For this ses­sion I wasn’t shoot­ing over crops. I had no­ticed a few pi­geons drop­ping onto a cut grass field whilst I was walk­ing around on a

rab­bit ses­sion, and I thought it would be a great chance to try out some new kit that I had been given to test, Also my part­ner has taken an in­ter­est in my hobby and wanted to come to see how de­coy­ing worked. She has been do­ing rather well re­cently on tar­gets, and also on a re­cent rab­bit shoot, so I couldn’t say no. Hav­ing Ca­rina with me would also give me a true test on how good the new Ghost camo net from Jack Pyke would cope with the girly colours she in­sists on wear­ing.

The net con­sist of two lay­ers; one is full mesh and the other is mesh cut to show a more bro­ken up pat­tern, and holes to aid see­ing through, and I must ad­mit, I was well im­pressed on how good it is to look through from the in­side out.

When set­ting up the hide, you need to find a nice back­ground be­hind you so that it hides any move­ment you make as the pi­geon comes in. The more shade the bet­ter, if pos­si­ble, but make sure you can see what is com­ing in from both sides. Don’t be tempted to make the hide too big, or too high – you need to be able to shoot over it com­fort­ably and see what is com­ing in. For this test, though, I pulled the hide fur­ther for­ward from the trees, just to let more light in­side it.

TOUGH ON THE NET

I wanted to do this test with­out any help from the sur­round­ing fauna. I would never just use a net in front of the hide on its own in real ses­sions, but this was a test so I had to use it raw. From the pic­tures, you will see that the girly pink re­ally could be seen through the net, and in real sit­u­a­tions I would not dream of let­ting the mis­sus wear that – no mat­ter how big the bot­tom lip gets, but once she switches to the Quick Wick T-shirt you def­i­nitely see the dif­fer­ence. When I was in the hide wear­ing the darker bot­toms and camo colours, it cer­tainly helped to blend me in well. I know you’ll say that you can see the bags that came with the de­coys on the floor, but that was pur­posely set up. I would make sure in a real sit­u­a­tion that these were all put in one darker bag, or cov­ered over; I just want to be tough on the net.

RE­AL­IS­TIC DEEKS

There had been no spe­cific flight-line that the pi­geons were tak­ing on this field when I was watch­ing them, so I set

up the de­coys in a horse­shoe-shape pat­tern around 30 yards from the hide. There was hardly any breeze, and I could face the de­coys in any di­rec­tion I wanted so that they didn’t look reg­i­men­tal. I then set up a bouncer slightly be­hind the de­coys, but just a lit­tle. This will give the im­pres­sion of a pi­geon com­ing into land, but also give room for a pi­geon to pass the flap­per and come into the pat­tern.

The kind of de­coys you use will de­pend on you, and what you can af­ford, but the En­forcer de­coys that I have been test­ing re­ally take some beat­ing now, and you can get them at a great price. They are the most re­al­is­tic plas­tic de­coys I have seen and they have def­i­nitely pulled in more pi­geons do­ing this type of de­coy­ing than any oth­ers I have used.

PER­SONAL CADDY!

It was now time to see if any­thing would come into the pat­tern. It was mid- af­ter­noon and bak­ing hot, not the time I like to be out de­coy­ing, but I had to try. Well, I started off let­ting Ca­rina wear her girly pink top, just to show her how im­por­tant it is to be hid­den from pi­geons. We had four come in close to land­ing, only for them to flick their wings and head on to the trees to our left. Ev­ery time Ca­rina lifted the ri­fle, she was seen. Bit­ing my nails and keep­ing calm, I fi­nally per­suaded her to ditch the pink, and straight away she had one present it­self just a lit­tle fur­ther for­ward of the de­coys. I in­sisted on a head shot be­cause she was still in her in­fancy shoot­ing off sticks. I wouldn’t want an in­jured pi­geon, so I knew it would be a kill or miss. She did man­age to miss this one, but I was be­ing im­pa­tient and telling her to get a move on be­fore it got sun­stroke, so it was my fault. I had hoped it would fly off quickly, just so she could see how fast you have to be when shoot­ing with an air ri­fle – this pi­geon was ei­ther dumb or the net was do­ing ex­actly what it was made for.

Any­way, we did man­age to get a cou­ple more come straight in and, yes, she did get her prize. I was over the moon that she stayed calm and got a nice 30-yard shot per­fect. I de­cided to pull the plug on the ses­sion be­cause I had been called to at­tend a farm to do some fox con­trol that evening, and I didn’t want to be rush­ing around. The short ses­sion had proved that the Ghost net and de­coys worked fault­lessly – whether the bouncer was pulling them in, or the whole pat­tern was right. I know that what­ever pi­geon ar­rived in the area, it came to the pat­tern. I know I am go­ing to get some stick off the guys for tak­ing the other half shoot­ing, but I don’t care. It is great that I can share my hobby with her, and I have my own per­sonal caddy!

“From the pic­tures, you will see that the girly pink re­ally could be seen through the net”

ABOVE: By keep­ing the hide low I could shoot over it com­fort­ably

BE­LOW: The ‘floater’ adds move­ment to the pat­tern

ABOVE: I kept the pat­tern sim­ple to be­gin

BE­LOW LEFT: Ca­rina can com­fort­ably carry my de­coy­ing kit

BE­LOW RIGHT: This neat bag stops the En­forcer de­coys from getting dam­aged

ABOVE: Pink ... re­ally?

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