I've been lucky to get out a few times in recent weeks, sometimes with JDog, sometimes on my own or with others. So here's my round-up.
JDog and I shot a fantastic flightline on land I can shoot with birds coming to and fro from rape fields I can't. I spotted the line and watched it over several days, it was amazing, like a motorway for pigeons. The birds were travelling in a loop but funnelling through an area with rough grass and a tall hedge. We couldn't shoot on the best day when the wind was strongest but when we did get out, it was very good. We had hides 50m apart, me in front of the rough grass and JDog in front of some standing wheat. The line was fairly broad but we managed to get on some of the birds coming back, with some great shooting. A rough pick up of 40 with only a few lost in the crop as we had no dog.
Always exciting when you find you have new fields to shoot over, so when the farm manager said they had harvested winter barley on the "new fields" I was right on it and, even better, it was five mins from home. I watched the fields for a couple of days (I usually combine this with letting my son drive the Land Rover around the field while I look). It looked decent with a nice tree to set up under where birds were pitching in.
JDog couldn't join me so I went alone. My heart sank when I saw two 4x4s parked down the field - how on earth did these two know about the fields! ******. Anyway as I drove down I realised they were set up next to a muck heap and shooting pigeons coming into it. Clearly they hadn't watched the fields. Quick chat and I parked up to watch for a bit. The line looked good to the tree but there was also another line into a second stubble. They were big fields so I couldn't cover both. A quick call to JDog and he was on his way. Showers came and went, JDog set up on the other field but it just didn't happen, he thought it had been shot recently (possibly when it was standing). Anyway, I stuck it out, the wind dropped and it became hard work in the heat as birds could pitch in anywhere.
I managed 24, which I was happy with considering there was no wind when I finished.
Near the spot where we shot the birds flighting was rape stubble which I don't have permission over. After the flightline shoot, I found out who owned it and JDog went one better and drove round and asked the combine driver. A pigeon shootter himself, he kindly gave limited permission to shoot from the boundary of my land on the edge of his stubble. I couldn't get out when JDog wanted to, and he was reluctant when I wanted to. Still, I went out, it was forecast heavy rain and strong winds. As I watched there certainly were some heavy downpours as clouds raced across. However, as soon as they cleared pigeons started to pile into the rape stubble. I called JDog......I could tell he wanted to come and sure enough a few minutes later he was in the car. It rained again....and again....and then cleared a little. So we set off, carried our gave over a ditch and set up (after the usual argument about hide positions) in one hide and shot together.
It wasn't as prolific as we thought it would be but we did manage to decoy some and shoot other passing by. A much better line to our right would have been the spot, however, it was out of bounds. So, with Jasper's help, we picked 26 pigeons. One lost in a tree which we couldn't see but Jasper told us was there.
A solo outing which involved a recce over many rape stubbles where I saw a lot of pigeons. Five fields together in a large block held a good number but I was concerned they would head to any position once I set up. A smaller field I only went to as an after-thought must have held 250 pigeons. I pushed them off, they came back. I grass cutter came, he pushed them off, they came back. With that anticipation only pigeon shooters must experience, I set up on the likely hedge close to where they had been feeding.
Almost immediately some came back. I had lots of shooting. This is it.........then, it stopped. Birds headed over me to distant fields, I know not where. I picked up a few here and there, picked around 14 and enjoyed myself nonetheless.
As you can see no big numbers on any outings but much fun and just good to be out there!