Good prac­tice and your hide

Set­ting up prop­erly to shoot pi­geons is es­sen­tial if you want to en­joy your­self in safety. Fol­low a few ba­sics and you will have a suc­cess­ful day, says Ge­off Gar­rod

Sporting Gun - - Gamekeeping Our Shoot - JAN­UARY 2019

You may have the per­fect day, pi­geons keen to de­coy and your gun loaded and ready to go but with­out good hide dis­ci­pline it could count for noth­ing. Fol­low these sim­ple, com­mon sense tips and you’ll have a safer day and, most likely, a big­ger bag.

When choos­ing the lo­ca­tion for your hide, try to find level ground. Be pre­pared to do a lit­tle spade­work to give your­self as flat and sta­ble a plat­form to shoot from as pos­si­ble. As part of my stan­dard de­coy­ing kit I al­ways carry a spade in the truck for this pur­pose. The rea­son flat ground is so im­por­tant is not just to stop you trip­ping and be­ing put off bal­ance by ob­sta­cles such as stones or roots, it’s more fun­da­men­tal than that. Foot­work and foot place­ment are equally im­por­tant when shoot­ing pi­geons as they are when shoot­ing driven game. It’s very easy to limit your move­ment and you’ll end up miss­ing shots be­cause you’re sim­ply set up wrongly. You need to be able to po­si­tion your feet to take shots that present them­selves in a 180° arc. Many shots are missed through poor bal­ance or not be­ing able to place your feet in the op­ti­mum po­si­tion, caus­ing you to run out of swing. A great deal of foot­work is needed when pi­geon shoot­ing as you get “ev­ery shot in the book”, so be pre­pared to

be nim­ble. The bot­tom line is that you have a loaded gun in your hand and trip­ping or fall­ing over could end badly. Miss­ing birds is also hellishly frus­trat­ing.

Ob­struc­tions

Clear your arc of fire of ob­struc­tions that may catch your bar­rel when swing­ing through a bird. Most hides will be roughly a D shape and most birds will prob­a­bly be shot over your de­coys in front of the hide in a 90° quad­rant, but al­ways ex­pect the un­ex­pected and keep as wide an arc avail­able to shoot in. Birds may and of­ten do ar­rive from all di­rec­tions. Try not to limit your op­tions, if the ter­rain and lo­ca­tion al­low. It’s not just to help your shoot­ing, it’s a mat­ter of safety too. Bang­ing into a branch could eas­ily knock the gun out of your shoul­der or cause you to pull the trig­ger when you don’t in­tend to. Take a saw or lop­pers to re­move what you need to be able to shoot safely. Don’t go mad, just clear what’s needed.

I’ve had a gun and car­tridge stand made to make sure that I can prop my gun up in the hide safely. Be­ing able to pick the gun up and move freely makes life a whole lot eas­ier. The stand makes sure that the muz­zle of the gun isn’t right next to the camo-net­ting. I’ve seen it many times: a bird ap­pears and in the rush to grab the gun and mount it, the bar­rel gets tan­gled in the top of the net­ting and the shooter ends up look­ing fool­ish and an op­por­tu­nity is missed. Keep­ing the bar­rel just a few inches away mostly pre­vents this from hap­pen­ing.

Be­ing com­fort­able will help your shoot­ing. A prob­lem shoot­ers of­ten cre­ate for them­selves is ei­ther hav­ing the camo-net­ting too low and they get spot­ted by ap­proach­ing birds, or they have the net­ting too high to com­fort­ably shoot over and will get tan­gled or bang into the hide poles when track­ing a cross­ing bird. It’s well worth tak­ing time to get the hide right for you.

Net­ting

I set my net­ting to mid-chest height. Not only does this al­low me to peek over the net to spot birds while I’m sit­ting down, but when I stand up to shoot, the gun eas­ily swings over the top of the poles. Pi­geons aren’t all that good at spot­ting colour, but they are ex­tremely sharp when it comes to see­ing any move­ment. I would al­ways rec­om­mend wear­ing a hat and prefer­ably not one that is a flat colour. The camo pat­tern on the Deer­hunter kit I wear helps to dis­guise my out­line and the same goes for the jacket. I’m not sure the colour mat­ters too much,

“The re­ac­tions of a pi­geon are rapid, equalled only by grouse for their agility in the air”

• Find a lo­ca­tion on level ground • Take a spade with you • Re­move ob­sta­cles such as branches • Make sure you stay still in the hide • Make ev­ery­thing com­fort­able

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