In a week that a reported bag of 985 pigeons are reported on stubble we had a call for help. This farmer is very particular on how you treat his crops, that is we can shoot as long as we do not damage the standing crop or the tracks around the farm. It could be classed as OCD but he has won best kept farm in the past.
So we arrived at the farm on Tuesday and all we could see was three defined flightlines heading to five fields of standing wheat , in total of approx 100 acres. Not one blowhole , just like a billiard table all standing in the breeze. Now we have found it in the past that the pigeons choose a field and hit it hard on this occasion we had approx three hundred birds on these fields feeding in the wheel tracks, which had been knocked down and the stalks bent and the heads had started to ripen off. So the farmer s instructions was the shoot the pigeons but dont knock any standing wheat down!! even with the dog.
So we studied the fields and found the birds were flighting over a dividing hedge which gave us two sets of wheel tracks to drop birds into, with the wind off our backs the birds should present themselves straight in front so we could even drop them on the hedge. We set up the magnet to the side of us in a track with the arms raised high above the wheat, just for movement and put five real birds in the tracks on cradles. We were shooting from 12.00 and the first birds in came straight at us. You had the hold the shot to get them to drop in and then the second was way off the mark. We dropped a few in the hedge bottom which we though the dog would retrieve but it was full of nettles and he would not get into it. We had to stop shooting at 17.00 as DB was working nights. We picked up one hundred and two pigeons.
We were back on Thursday as the birds were still visiting the field, with our experience before we scanned the fields for a position that would allow is the shoot and keep within the criteria required by the farmer. We found a position on the edge of the field which was bare of any crops which was fifty yards wide by twenty yards deep. We were set up again by 12.00 and set up the decoys and magnet in the tracks in front of us with the wind slightly from the left. This was only a day after we had shot it before and the birds were spooky but we shot till 17.00 and picked up eightyfour birds. It was frustrating shooting as you had to stop the flow as they passed out of the drop zone. We did allow the dog to retrieve but only at heel allong the tracks as he could scent birds. One trick I tried and it did work was to take a spare hide pole and walk along the tracks just brushing the heads of the wheat which allowed you visual access to the birds beneath and it was amasing how many I found which the dog had walked by but they were cold birds. Its not the dogs fault as we tend to send him for running birds so the cold birds he tends to go past.
So two days bonus shooting in the week the farmer was happy. I was not out today as Mrs PC is having an operation to correct a concern with her total knee replacement seven weeks ago, fingers crossed and next week end our son is getting married just as the stubbles are here!!!!