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Any winter pigeon experts?

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    I’m struggling at the moment on the pigeon. I shoot mainly over rape.

    The farmer seems happy for us to just keep them moving, but I’d prefer to keep him even happier by reducing the numbers.

    My fieldcraft is not terrible, in early spring I have good days when the flocks start breaking up, and harvest time every day is a big days... but December to February is always a massive struggle.

    The spring and summer fieldcraft just doesn’t cut it... do I perhaps need to invest in some extra kit like a couple of mechanical flappers to go in the pattern, the rotary magnet is nothing more than a scarer I’m find at this time of year.

    Any guidance or tips will be very well received. 

     

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    17 minutes ago, hankook1 said:

    how many decoys are you putting out i find you need a lot more than in the summer months !!

    Yeah not many, and that would make sense with the flocking up in winter. Will try that next time out

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    There are very few posts this time of the year concerning large bags of pigeons shot on rape , come to that medium ones as well , when one of the most dedicated pigeon decoyers on the forum ( P C ) struggle lately getting a big bag by his standard on rape then you realise how difficult it is.

    Yes there are experts on here but even those guys don't post any big bags off rape , maybe some when it start germinating but not at this time of the year, I have got the time but I don't like wasting it sitting on a cold hedge for the odd shot when I could get on with any out standing work so it then give me even more time when the time come to make it worth while . 

    I would say the biggest handicap is the quantity grown , how many times do you hear , I had a couple of shots and didn't see them no more , no you wouldn't if they have got another half a dozen fields in the area.

    GOOD LUCK .

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    As said it is seldom very easy to kill good bags during the colder months. pigeons moving around as one are always tricky to deal with. If there is a large acreage of rape grown on one farm as there often is nowadays, you are only going to push the birds onto another field. Gas guns or other shooters can help to cover the area.

    Pigeons generally have quite a few feeds per day on the rape in the colder months and retreat to a nearby roost to digest between feeds. Good sport can be had sat waiting in these roost and pigeons droppings are a give away to where you need to be as the rape passes through the birds quickly so the floor will be a wash with the droppings.

    As Clodhopper says a good wind will help stir up the birds and muffle the shots.

    Being on the rape making the effort is enough for most farmers as pigeons can do a lot of damage from now till March/April.

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    Another problem with rape at this time of the year is a lot of the stuff is grown in game shooting areas and unless pigeons are doing any serious damage ( which is rare around our way ) then you will not be allowed near it till the day after the very last shoot , which then makes it hard for shooters on surrounding land .

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    Hi, yes back to decoys and patterns, forget the magnet especially if the rape is still just getting going , say up to 6 inches or so, I use a large pattern up to 30 decoys laid out in a circle with strategic gaps to allow birds to land inside the pattern, if the crop is high, say 6 inches, keep decoys packed well together , pigeons get nervous if they cannot see other feeding birds close by, place 2 or 3 floaters / bouncers well down wind of the pattern to act as sign posts to passing birds, if you need to get movement into the pattern then one or two flappers placed upwind on the edge of the pattern can work well, 

    As soon as you get dead birds start replacing decoys with birds on cradles, start with the most downwind decoys , the first they see as they approach, try to keep the hide out of the direct approach line of sight , I like to shoot left to right birds so I prefer to be out on the right side of the pattern, facing down wind and across the pattern.

    I have been experimenting with hides built out in the rape rather than under trees or hedges, this give you a much better choice of shooting grounds, especially when damaged patches are out of range from normal hide areas,  a large fishing brolly covered in nets and get as much net over the  top as possible leaving just enough open to get the gun up and fire, I use 4 or 5 full 4 metre nets to achieve the best results, last time out I placed a full bodied decoy on top of the hide and had 2 young birds try to land on the hide, one problem I have had with mid field hides is the birds coming too close, as a result I started laying the pattern out around 40 to 45 yards away which certainly improved the results. Dont be afraid to move patterns around if they flare away or seem uncertain on approach.

    The only thing I can add is dont expect huge numbers , if you can get them coming in ones and twos but on a regular basis you should get some good sport, but as with all rape shooting once they build up into large flocks it seems to get more difficult to hold them, its all at once or none at all.

    There will be some who disagree with my methods and so I say it is down to individuals to try everything possible to get the best results, its just nice to have options rather than sticking to the same old method regardless, just keep at it and best of luck.

    :good::lol:

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    1 hour ago, lakeside1000 said:

    Hi, yes back to decoys and patterns, forget the magnet especially if the rape is still just getting going , say up to 6 inches or so, I use a large pattern up to 30 decoys laid out in a circle with strategic gaps to allow birds to land inside the pattern, if the crop is high, say 6 inches, keep decoys packed well together , pigeons get nervous if they cannot see other feeding birds close by, place 2 or 3 floaters / bouncers well down wind of the pattern to act as sign posts to passing birds, if you need to get movement into the pattern then one or two flappers placed upwind on the edge of the pattern can work well, 

    As soon as you get dead birds start replacing decoys with birds on cradles, start with the most downwind decoys , the first they see as they approach, try to keep the hide out of the direct approach line of sight , I like to shoot left to right birds so I prefer to be out on the right side of the pattern, facing down wind and across the pattern.

    I have been experimenting with hides built out in the rape rather than under trees or hedges, this give you a much better choice of shooting grounds, especially when damaged patches are out of range from normal hide areas,  a large fishing brolly covered in nets and get as much net over the  top as possible leaving just enough open to get the gun up and fire, I use 4 or 5 full 4 metre nets to achieve the best results, last time out I placed a full bodied decoy on top of the hide and had 2 young birds try to land on the hide, one problem I have had with mid field hides is the birds coming too close, as a result I started laying the pattern out around 40 to 45 yards away which certainly improved the results. Dont be afraid to move patterns around if they flare away or seem uncertain on approach.

    The only thing I can add is dont expect huge numbers , if you can get them coming in ones and twos but on a regular basis you should get some good sport, but as with all rape shooting once they build up into large flocks it seems to get more difficult to hold them, its all at once or none at all.

    There will be some who disagree with my methods and so I say it is down to individuals to try everything possible to get the best results, its just nice to have options rather than sticking to the same old method regardless, just keep at it and best of luck.

    :good:

    I am interested in your theories.

    Why no magnet? I have had my best bags at this time of year when using one.

    Pigeons get nervous when they can't see other feeding birds close by? Please tell how you know this.

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    Yes, a magnet, (or two, ideally), is an absolute must over Winter Rape, I don't bother with shells or fuds, the birds struggle to see them, the more movement you have, the more chance you have of drawing the birds in, provided you have done a proper recce the day before and worked out exactly where the birds are likely to be feeding, it's as simple as that.

    I've only been out once this year on Winter Rape, most days I've been hoping to get out have been a disaster weather wise, but the one day I did get out, i picked up 85, shooting from 7.30 until it dried up around 11.30am, all down to a proper recce over the field whilst game shooting the previous day.

    Cat.

     

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    19 hours ago, motty said:

    I am interested in your theories.

    Why no magnet? I have had my best bags at this time of year when using one.

    Pigeons get nervous when they can't see other feeding birds close by? Please tell how you know this.

    I also would be interested to know…. :hmm:

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    5 minutes ago, jcbbracken said:

    make sure all the fields are covered by guns keeps them moveing

    But what about when they fly two miles down the road and land in a wood and sit there all day?

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    On 11/12/2017 at 20:20, motty said:

    I am interested in your theories.

    Why no magnet? I have had my best bags at this time of year when using one.

    Pigeons get nervous when they can't see other feeding birds close by? Please tell how you know this.

    Just a lot of time out shooting them, they do act differently on different days but the most noticeable one was on tallish rape when a large pattern had them floating over but not committing, I gradually moved the decoys closer together until they ended up just inches from each other, the result was startling, the birds were trying to land shoulder to shoulder with decoys , my son and I shared the hide and had a respectable 52 before the cold got to us.

    Magnets are a strange beast, with hypa flaps on board they come in for a look but possibly the noise puts them off but on other days especially with young birds I have had them try to land on the spinning arms, mad or what. I have had great success with dead birds on board and would thoroughly recommend a magnet for most decoying, but on new seeded ground or very short crop I find the flappers a better bet.  

    As I said its personal choice and and experience that makes the difference. many of my friends prefer full bodied decoys but I only use shells with sillosock covers fitted, just my choice and a lot lighter and easier to carry when stacked,

    Also most of my experience has been gained shooting around lincolnshire and norfolk where there have been very few pigeons to go at, possibly when there are very large flocks they are more likely to compete with each other to get the best feeding place, so less likely to be nervous of different equipment, small numbers seem to take more time to commit, maybe this makes them more picky when it comes to dropping in over decoys, who knows? 

    Edited by lakeside1000

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    16 hours ago, jcbbracken said:

    make sure all the fields are covered by guns keeps them moving

    I can't find anyone who wants to shoot the same days as I do, mostly mid week but I do use flags when the birds are settling all over the field, that usually gets them moving until they find my decoys.

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    5 hours ago, lakeside1000 said:

    I can't find anyone who wants to shoot the same days as I do, mostly mid week but I do use flags when the birds are settling all over the field, that usually gets them moving until they find my decoys.

    Mid week shooting is sorta difficult if you have a full time job and a normal amount of holiday entitlement. I have always considered 20 birds a good day over winter rape on my own. I wonder if folks expectations are a bit on the high side? I do love finding the day roosts and spending some time on those, a dozen on a Saturday morning then home to watch the rugby seems like a decent Saturday to me.

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    8 hours ago, lakeside1000 said:

    Just a lot of time out shooting them, they do act differently on different days but the most noticeable one was on tallish rape when a large pattern had them floating over but not committing, I gradually moved the decoys closer together until they ended up just inches from each other, the result was startling, the birds were trying to land shoulder to shoulder with decoys , my son and I shared the hide and had a respectable 52 before the cold got to us.

    Magnets are a strange beast, with hypa flaps on board they come in for a look but possibly the noise puts them off but on other days especially with young birds I have had them try to land on the spinning arms, mad or what. I have had great success with dead birds on board and would thoroughly recommend a magnet for most decoying, but on new seeded ground or very short crop I find the flappers a better bet.  

    As I said its personal choice and and experience that makes the difference. many of my friends prefer full bodied decoys but I only use shells with sillosock covers fitted, just my choice and a lot lighter and easier to carry when stacked,

    Also most of my experience has been gained shooting around lincolnshire and norfolk where there have been very few pigeons to go at, possibly when there are very large flocks they are more likely to compete with each other to get the best feeding place, so less likely to be nervous of different equipment, small numbers seem to take more time to commit, maybe this makes them more picky when it comes to dropping in over decoys, who knows? 

    Well you learn something new everyday on this forum...:)

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    Ive seen the behaviour that lakeside describes where birds in large numbers come in like they are on rails, showing no concern at being near to equipment.  Then on the same day in smaller groups they become much cagier.

    Lots of huge rape fields in my area meaning if you'e not very careful they just disappear elsewhere and dont return.

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    Rape is harder and harder to shoot. When the crop first started in earnest in the mid 1970's we used to shoot a lot of birds, often hundreds in a session.

    These day's it's tough going in the winter. Barley and wheat stubbles seen to be left longer and aren't always sprayed off leaving more and often better options for the woody.

    We've got some large-ish fields as well, 300- 400 acres and these are a ball ache to shoot with any certainty. Rope bangers, a team of guns etc. etc. the birds on our patch are far from suicidal, they are smart in fact. 

    We don't grow brassicas like sprouts and cabbage like we used too. Halcyon days when you could stand up with a vivid yellow seafaring coat on in the middle of the crop, no hide no nothing other than limitations on the number of cartridges you could carry.             

      

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    11 hours ago, TIGHTCHOKE said:

    Worth a try!

    Sometimes we are to set in the way we go about trying to shoot pigeons on rape , each and everyone who shoot pigeons will come up with the way they do things , some people will be convinced its right and the rest will say its wrong .

    In other words there isn't any one way of doing things , we all now one day the magnet will draw them in as there is no tomorrow and the next time , even though you start off with dead birds on the magnet you start thinking after birds are flaring off that it would be better turned off for what good it is doing .

    So weather you decoy well in , well out , spread them out , put them in a tight bunch or use one of the many ways we are told is the way to do it  , if none of the methods you normally use are working to your satisfaction then experiment with different ways , as TIGHTCHOKE says it always, worth a try! 

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    Out again yesterday, same old problems, pigeons were on the rape when I arrived but soon departed to pastures of rape elsewhere, first four to return took one look at the magnet and did a disappearing act, so as usual I took it in, stuck out 3 floaters and a flapper and managed to get 5 before I froze solid, I could barely move when I cleared up after only 2 hours and had to sit in the car with heaters full on for half an hour to thaw out, I must be raving mad, just looking at the maps to plan the next outing, maybe tomorrow !!!

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