It’s a beautiful although slightly overcast morning as we set ourselves up for a day on the pigeons.
Start of pigeon season, and my first day shooting since the end of last game shooting season; so we have our fingers crossed for a good day.
First off, we need to get set up in a hide. It’s important to set out early, so you get your hide placed and built before the pigeons come out from roost.
Using nets and poles will give you a good base of a blind to work from and helps if you dress it with any fallen and broken branches and brashing to offer more natural surroundings when the pigeons hopefully fall into your decoy pattern.
Placing your blind under a tree that has some bare branches early in the season will make it a good sitting tree. Offering clear spaces for a clear shot free from hanging foliage.
Most of the decoys in our pattern are around 15-25 yards out in front of us so shooting should be reasonably straightforward.
There’s a pretty brisk wind this morning, so as the birds are coming over us they will have the wind in their wings so there will be some speed there, which we need to account for!
Realtree Max-5 is a great all round Pigeon Shooting pattern whether it’s for early pigeons, or well into the spring and summer. It has a lot to offer with the dark background for early season and the green elements work well for the early spring. The Max-5 offers incredible detail; each pattern has been strategically placed to create super-realistic tone, contrast and shadow.
When you appear from behind your blind it is important to be camouflagued to blend in with the surroundings so that your pigeons continue to come into your pattern. Having a great white silhouette appearing out of your blind every so often when you go to shoot will deter the pigeons to another spot, and you don’t want your neighbour to get your shooting!
Pigeon Shooting provides a fantastic days sport and normally is a great help to the farmer in maintaining the crops. It’s remained overcast for the duration of our day but didn’t alter our opportunity. The wind was pretty strong all day.
Interesting thing about today, was the way the pattern attracted the birds. Some of them came right in, and others came into the centre and hovered before landing, they didn’t want to come into the pattern. Something about it just seemed to spook them. That enabled us to take quite a few long shots but as you may know, those are not always quite as successful as bringing the birds into the pattern and shooting them at 15-20 yards.
However, some of those shots around the pattern were spectacular. I managed to bag 23, although there are a lot more empty cartridges on the floor! That’s half the fun of this sport.
It feels great when you make a good shot and the bird comes down, but equally it has to be sporting. The 23 pigeons I shot today won’t really see a big dent in the population around our shooting area, there really are a lot of birds and my guide knows exactly where to find them.
If it is not your area that you are shooting and you have been invited on a day it really is important to find out the key facts of the ground. What time do they start to move? Which direction do they generally come from? Do they favour a particular flight path? And what kind of pattern did they use on this ground before to bring the birds in?
Equally if it is your own ground, it is important to do a reconnaissance beforehand. Watch the ground on similar days to that you’ll be shooting on, make some notes for certain times of the day and plan your day in advance.
Today has been a truly wonderful day in the field. Great countryside, fantastic views and great shooting sport.
Now the hard bit, the tidying up! Packing away decoys, nets and blinds, picking up the cartridges, putting back the branches and brashings and making sure any rubbish is taken home.
And finally, picking up the carcasses and taking them home for tea!