Saturday, 23 October 2010
A great day's pigeon shooting
For our Christmas issue's pigeon shooting feature, I went out yesterday with Andy Crow, a farm manager on the Kent/Surrey border. His job leaves him plenty of spare time through the winter to shoot pigeons - which is a good thing because if he didn't, there wouldn't be much oilseed rape come harvest time.
We set up on a field of fodder maize stubble in the early mist. Andy doesn't believe in tucking his hide away in a hedge under a tree - he planted this one smack bang in the middle of the field. Using hazel branches cut from the wood, he disguised it as a bush.
Then he rigged up his decoy pattern, using his home made cradles and about a dozen dead birds from the chiller - no plastic decoys for him.
Add a whirly, connect it up, and retire back to our 'bush hide' to await developments. In no time at all, the mist had lifted to reveal a lovely blue sky - and the birds were piling in.
Having taken a few 'in the hide' photos, I switched to trying to capture the moment a pigeon was hit - not an easy task! I was pleased with this one...
And this one is interesting - zoom in and you can see the pattern just ahead of the bird. A fraction of a second later the two had collided, and the bird was dead in mid air.
Andy kindly handed me his gun for a while and, after a few embarrassing misses, I managed to kill 14 or 15 birds, including a couple of nice long shots. When we cleared up at the end of the day, the total was 147. Out of the 'brick' of 250 cartridges we had 53 left, which gives a pretty impressive ratio of 3 birds for every 4 shots.
It was a very enjoyable day, and Andy was great company. I hope to be going out with him again soon - and you can read all about our trip, together with his methods and tips, in the Christmas issue.