Old School Pigeon Shooting Traditional Pigeon Shooting The Old Masters way
Now my post was all about how so many of us have no idea of proper field craft anymore, you rely on gadgets and luck to a good days pigeon shooting, that couples with the biggest bag number is what many of you think makes a good days pigeon shooting.
I was a young man in my early 20s then not an old fart in my late 40s as I am now, I tell you I never want to shoot a big bag like that again ever. I was young and stupid and had a fighting spirit in me back then for it, but now as a battle worn ole warrior I am happy with a nice small moderate bag.
I also use field craft as my key stone, this was what I was taught as a young boy by my mentors like my Pappy/Father and Uncle Dave all countrymen of the old school who have forgotten more than I will ever truly know, and hero's like The Major Archie Coats or my ole muckers Fred J Taylor and John Batley again masters of the old school, my Pappy and dear ole Archie and Fred who are no longer with us, I always say when an old man dies a library dies with them, for all these men have taught me one thing, a good pair of binoculars and time spent just watching is what brings home the bacon.
So for me field craft and respect for your quarry is everything, for pigeon shooting its watch the flight lines(pigeon roads) look to see if there is a water source a pond a stream a cattle trough, look for the sitty trees, understand the crop rotation of the farm etc and so much more, I have written about a lot of this in my series of articles called Permission To Approach over at The Countryman's Diary.
As soon as we got there he said I am going to drive across the wheat stubble to that ash tree and set up there at the far end, ahhhh so you have already watched the field then have you so that's a flight line? A what he said? I chuckled and said ok son you go there I will glass the field for a few moments get a feel for the place as it was his farm permission we were shooting on.
Almost straight away as he drove across the stubble’s I could see pigeons and indeed mixed corvids (crow family) lifting off, I sat and just watched for a while it became very apparent that there was a strong flight line going to the left over the top of the corner of the maize field near an old dead tree that also doubled as a sitty tree, I meandered over with my decoy bag/gun/cartridges and lunch with Ole Brook following me.
I sat in the edge of the maize set a small hide up and just sat and watched the lad set out 40 or so mixed decoys and batter operated flappers, there were full bodied ones shell ones and a few crow decoys too, he then set up a whirly gig and put 2 flapping pigeons on them a new product I have seen before, He then set about shooting and I just watched him for half an hour as indeed the pigeons dropped right into him almost immediately, I did notice they would flare away from the whirly gig a lot this I thought was due to the flash of the arms from the sun as it went round and round, and indeed the lad shot some nice shot on pigeons, well now it was my turn I actually put out 10 decoys this time, 6 pigeon 2 crow and a magpie some distance away as a confidence decoy, I managed to get a full bodied pigeon decoy up the tree on an open branch using my hide poles, and I put out one Jack pyke Floater decoy, I was traveling light as I often do now days.
Now the lad did get some odd bits of shooting that day but right from the off I was in the hot seat, you could physically see the pigeons come into the field turn towards his high tech pattern, then gracefully say bugger off that’s not fooling us and drop right into my pattern at the other end of the big field, I really was in the hot seat barely having time to re load at times the pigeons just kept coming and coming.
Again you need to know how to read your bird and understand your quarry, I was getting it that day the birds came from behind me, now I could of snapped shot them going away, but no good hide discipline I waited watched them fly out turn on the wind and drop right back in to the kill zone for a text book shot.
The lad laughed and said what are you going to do make a fire and cook it, watch and learn son I will teach you something that was taught to me 40 years ago by an old pigeon shooting master, I sharpened both ends of the 4ft hazel stick and made a slit in each end of the 2ft stick, I then pushed the 4ft one up through the pigeon from its back end spearing the pigeons head on the point of the stick,I then took the 2ft one and threaded it through the pigeons breast were the wing joins on, then clipped the end wing feathers of the pigeon into the slit at each end of the stick, there you go a natural floater for your pattern, well bugger me I would never of thought of that he said, Now try shooting like this for an hour and see the difference and give the birds chance to decoy no shots passed 30 yards I told him.
Please boys and girls if you are going to shoot over standing crop please have a competent dog for retrieving the shot birds and don't shoot at birds at excessive distances, and also have a home for your shot birds, I had to go pick up behind a group of chaps recently no dog and they just left all the birds, the farmer was not happy and neither was I, for me its the disrespect to the quarry and the bad name it gives all of us, the farmer was not happy as rotting pigeons in his bales causes disease to his animals and ruins expensive feed/bedding etc.
By The Ole Hedge Creeper