Advanced Decoying Part 3
Rise Of The Silk Moths
We start off in this one on a very difficult one indeed, this farm is located right on the edge of a town, the shooting angles are very limited here, also because of its location/footpaths/close to an urban population and topography of the land the gun of choice is the Air Rifle, you see the shot gun is not always the best gun of choice, mainly due to the obtrusive ban it makes, safety is never the issue for in Britain we are proud of our firearms safety as we all have very strict rules, but safety none the less is a problem on this farm as people just walk out where they are not supposed to be, that coupled with a vast amount of anti shooting people living around the area makes it a problem, so the quiet pin point accuracy of an air rifle really is the tool for the job, even though you would not be breaking any law using a shot gun, prudence dictates to me the Air Rifle is my first choice.
Many people also rely on the latest gadgets and not field craft, I have said this time and time again, to be a good pigeon shooter or hunter it takes knowledge and time learned field craft, the gadgets help and have their place, but without field craft you just get lucky, I have also said the most essential piece of equipment of any hunter is a good pair of binoculars, reconnaissance and building up a picture of where the pigeons want to be is the key to a good days shooting.
Decoy patterns maybe wrong the wind may change the birds may decide to feed elsewhere, don't just sit there like a dummy if the birds are not playing ball find out why, are they seeing you in the hide is the sun silhouetting you are the decoys on they backs, get out the hide and see what's putting them off work it out, this is a DIY day that YOU are the Captain of, do you need to flag fields off or build a scare crow. sometimes the birds no matter what you do wont play ball its that simple, that's what makes pigeon shooting a real challenge for me in its untamed rawness and to do it consistently with an air rifle you really have to master your craft.
I think I will tell you of the times I am out coaching and inspiring my Young Sports Ambassadors, I know you guys like to know how the kids are doing as it revives a lot of your own memories shooting with your Fathers/Uncles/Family Friends or the old game keeper from the village, I know it brings back so many memories for me as a you Countryman in the making, also reading articles from my child hood hero's like Fred J Taylor (The Rabbiting Man) John Humphreys (Country Gun) or The Major Archie Coats (The Pigeon Shooter) that's where I came from as many of you have, I bet you are there like I am now writing this looking off into the clouds of a distant past with a smile on your face remembering your childhood hunting memories.
I also had to deal with Corvid's (crow family) now that was going to make this job a thousand times harder, the camouflage had to 101% perfect as well as the field craft and the marksmanship, I set Niall my right hand man a task take Young Sport Ambassador Carter and Oliver down the bottom end by the sitty trees keep the birds of that end at all costs, I tucked into the standing maize crop at the top end on a good flight line, I had reconnaissance the field the day before and knew this was a very strong flight line plus with 20 years of experience shooting the field I knew this was just the spot for an Air Rifle shoot.
I got back in the maize and immersed myself and became one with nature, young Tess the springer spaniel stayed at my side, within a minute the first wood pigeon landed right in the kill zone, I took a breath exhaled and squeezed the trigger off, whisper quiet the pellet left the gun and a distinct thump as the pigeon dropped to my shot with a few flaps, no obtrusive noise of a shot gun and I barely had time to cock the gun as another landed next to his dead mate, this continued on for about an hour until I had around 20 dead pigeons on the ground, when the birds told me I had to go and tidy up the pattern, that was just the pigeons, the Corvid's did the same in that hour and I accounted for a good dozen of them too, I went out to tidy up the pattern and clear my kill zones for another session, of Course Tess wanted to help too and said I had put the birds in the wrong spots so moved them all for me, ahhhhh a young dog she was just trying to help even when I growled at her to leave them alone, she just stuck her nose in the air and went back to the hide as if to say sod you then you can get it wrong all by yourself, the little bugger also ate my cheese sandwich that was sitting on top my shooting bag, my own fault I should have put it back in my lunch bag.
Back in the hide the action started again for the couple of hours or so until it was time to pack up, I think the picture says it all as the Young Sports helped me pack up, remember we just started with 4 full bodied decoys and 1 crow decoy using a natural hide and air rifle.
I told farmer I only had just over an hour as I had to be at another job but I would return with a full set up including shot guns the following day, again I have been dealing with this farm for the best part of 20 years, I took a guess that the lone Ash tree was a good place to have a go, I set out my 4 bird decoy pattern and sat back against the tree no hide just a face veil and gloves on this Jack Pyke Camo is brilliant I telle, the pigeons were like bees round a honey pot landing in the tree above me then dropping down to the decoys or just landing straight in, by the time I stood up and had to leave I had the best part of 20 fresh shot wood pigeons on the ground, I returned the very next day with the Jack Pyke/Enforcer Decoys gear and shot a further 400+ with a shot gun, but the size of the bag is not what matters its the being there and protecting the crops and putting your field craft to the ultimate test that's what matters not the size of the bag, also complying with the necessary GL Licences etc I strongly urge you all to read the GL licences and carry the necessary ones with you as I do.
I was called out to a rat job in a piggery yard, again a very old client of mine, I set all the traps in place and even shot a few rats, when the Farmer next door came in to see my Farmer Client, I was introduced and said and well a long story short he is now also my client, I had to look at a standing wheat crop, he had managed to get the barley in but not the wheat before the weather turned, I could not use a shot gun as the fields were surrounded by horses, I gave it a go on a flight line into the wheat field under an old oak tree on the barley stubble, again no hide half a dozen Jack Pyke flock coated shell decoys a face veil gloves and my old Air Arms S410, I telle that little gun in my hands is a laser nail driver, again knowledge and a little reece told me that lone oak tree was not only a flight line but also a sitty tree, I think that photo says it all really not bad for 3 hours eh.
Equipment used: www.thatchreed.co.uk (Jack Pyke) www.riversideoutdoor.co.uk (Hides) www.enforcerdecoys.co.uk (decoys) www.air-arms.co.uk (Air Rifles) www.reallywildadventures.co.uk (Crop and Pest Control)
By The Ole Hedge Creeper