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JMikeyH

Pigeon shooting woes

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Hi all,

I'm very green when it comes to pigeon shooting, having only had a shotgun since March. Since getting it I've been out several times a week either hitting the crows and jackdaws at a cattlefarm permission, or trying my hand at decoying pigeons on rape.

Despite my best efforts, I always seem to come back with very few pigeons or none at all for sometimes an 8+ hour session sat in a hide.

I appreciate that this is a pass time where patience is needed, and I've got plenty of that, however I'm wondering if there's something I'm missing.

I have tried a variety of decoy set ups, from rigidly following the horseshoe or two group pattern, to more natural and sporadically placed patterns. I've used a mixture of decoys from shells, flocked and unflocked full bodies, magnets and bouncers and a mixture of all, sometimes leaving out the magnet or the bouncers and trying different numbers of decoys from just 6 or 8 to putting out 20 odd.

I've not got access to much variety of crop to shoot over. My options are oilseed rape, well-sprouted wheat or grass pastures. None of these seem to change the outcome, though somewhat confusingly I've had more success decoying over a field of grass than the other two!

 

It might be an impossible question, but is there something I'm missing or does everyone long periods of little success? Of course, the only videos you see on youtube is of people getting 3-digit bags, it's getting hard to keep motivated as the decoying gear ain't the easiest to carry and set up/pack up is a pain for no reward! And in case anyone is wondering, I do have a license to shoot most of the birds involved in the GL debacle.

 

Any input is appreciated :)

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My first question would be are you seeing any flightlines? Are birds around?

You can have the best hide/decoys in the world but if you're in the wrong place, you won't fire a shot.

Are you doing your reconnaissance and seeing where the birds are at?

Just need to understand whether you see birds and can't decoy them or there aren't any around.

Cattle farms are generally more corvid focused, unless they have a colony of ferals in the cow sheds. I've had great fun shooting corvids in and around the silage clamp and feed bins. There are usually plenty of sitty trees and regular flight lines. Decoying them is great fun but they have really good eyesight.

Pigeons can be harder work as you need to be where they want to be. If you are just sat in some randon OSR field with decoys they may well be prefering to be somewhere else. Decoys are no guarantee that they will come to you. They need to be looking to feed and find your decoys/crop/location appealing.

Give us a bit more of an idea of what you are/are not seeing and we'll see what we can do to help.

Yoda once said "fish in empty pond you will, no fish you will catch".

 

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Posted (edited)

Hi Hedge,

 

Most of the time there are birds flying over. I do try to get out before and see where the pigeons are, though some times I do just turn up with the kit and set up where I have seen them previously. Last time I was trying for them on oilseed rape, I set up where I saw them just to spend the entire day watching them land in the next field over. Following on from this on the next day, I set up where they were landing in the next field over, only to watch them land in the field I was in the day before!

Birds would fly over (never in any great number), and the odd one or two would decoy. Most however would fly over and pay the decoys no mind at all, as if they weren't even there. Some would look like they were about to decoy then veer off as they came in like they had seen me but I always try to stay tucked down in the hide for as log as I can! I'm under no illusions about my shotgun capabilities and I like the birds to have them commit to landing before I take a shot.

I'm flummoxed about why it isn't working as I always try to set up where I have seen them previously (bald patches in crop etc), but it never seems to produce. As I mentioned before, it doesn't seem like the majority of them are bothered by the decoys/hide, but instead they don't pay them any attention at all

Edited by JMikeyH

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It's all about the flightlines . It's no use setting up elsewhere if there is no line or you can't be sure they will want to feed there.

A few hours spent watching are never wasted. 

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Well as I am local to you I maybe able to offer you some advice when I return from holiday, I will PM you on my return next weekend and see if I can help.

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My advice is , you can only shoot what returns to the field. If they fly off , find where they are going and ask permission. Explain where you have permission and that you are trying to reduce the flock. Stick at it and remember what works, try changing your set up.

I can remember my early days dawn till dusk for nine birds.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks Alan, would appreciate it

I'll go out this afternoon with the binos, does what you see the day before become irrelevant eventually? For example, if you see a flightline and pigeons in an area last week, is that information likely to be redundant by the next week?

I'd also like to know about times to go shooting. I have fairly long days during the week, so morning shooting isn't an option and I could only manage to get out after 6pm - is it worth going out at this time now the days are longer? In the mornings is it important to set up before first light or not so much?

Edited by JMikeyH

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7 hours ago, JMikeyH said:

Thanks Alan, would appreciate it

I'll go out this afternoon with the binos, does what you see the day before become irrelevant eventually? For example, if you see a flightline and pigeons in an area last week, is that information likely to be redundant by the next week?

I'd also like to know about times to go shooting. I have fairly long days during the week, so morning shooting isn't an option and I could only manage to get out after 6pm - is it worth going out at this time now the days are longer? In the mornings is it important to set up before first light or not so much?

Yes and no, flight lines don’t mean a thing unless they are going to a field to feed and then you got to find that field, its a difficult one to answer, it depends on so many things like time of year, the type of crops and the weather, its not very often you can plan days ahead just because you spotted a flight line last week, best advice is go out and find them on the day and shoot the same day, pigeons will always (well most of the time) tell you where they want on a field and if they are likely to return.

 

Time of year and crop dependent again, generally summer shooting will be midday onward and winter shooting (rape) can be anytime of day as you and they only have a narrow window of daylight, I personally don’t like first light shooting as nine times out of ten they will just disappear in one big flock, I like to let them have an hour or two feeding then walk them off a couple of times and hopefully they start returning.

Some of your best shooting is after midday during the summer months.

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20 hours ago, JMikeyH said:

Hi Hedge,

 

Most of the time there are birds flying over. I do try to get out before and see where the pigeons are, though some times I do just turn up with the kit and set up where I have seen them previously. Last time I was trying for them on oilseed rape, I set up where I saw them just to spend the entire day watching them land in the next field over. Following on from this on the next day, I set up where they were landing in the next field over, only to watch them land in the field I was in the day before!

Birds would fly over (never in any great number), and the odd one or two would decoy. Most however would fly over and pay the decoys no mind at all, as if they weren't even there. Some would look like they were about to decoy then veer off as they came in like they had seen me but I always try to stay tucked down in the hide for as log as I can! I'm under no illusions about my shotgun capabilities and I like the birds to have them commit to landing before I take a shot.

I'm flummoxed about why it isn't working as I always try to set up where I have seen them previously (bald patches in crop etc), but it never seems to produce. As I mentioned before, it doesn't seem like the majority of them are bothered by the decoys/hide, but instead they don't pay them any attention at all

As others have said, it's not an exact science and it can be frustrating. You do as much as you can to increase your chances of success, but even then, there are no guarantees.

You've done some sensible stuff. Seen them on a field and set up on it, only for them to go on the field next door. If there is an abundance of food, they can field hop and you'll never keep up with them (or you need at least 2 shooters covering both fields and hope you can get them to decoy into one or the other - assuming they stay in the area).

Birds don't have to fly over you in any great number (as in groups of 20+). A steady flow is preferable, ones and two's , shoot, reload and wait for the next ones. You do however, need to be under or close to a flight line where there are a steady stream of pigeons to start with.No flightline = no pigeons.

If the pigoens are flying in what I call `high and straight`, they are going somewhere else and you'll struggle to change their mind. If they are flying low, almost hedge hopping and weaving a bit side to side, they are looking to feed and *should* be able to decoy them.

You mention sometimes the pigeons appear to commit then veer off. This could be your pattern is in some way discouraging them and/or they see you/movement and shy away.

To test that theory - if they do appear to decoy, don't move. Stay hidden. See if they land or at least come and have a good look. If they do, the pattern is good and something you are doing is scaring them. If they spook for another reason, you need to work out why.

As for times of day - I've tried early morning flighting with limited joy. As others have said, after lunch seems to work better. They feed, sleep it off and feed some more. Shooting after 6pm in the summer days might yield some fruit but I can't give any specifics. I've has a good evening (after a fairly slow day) when suddenly about 5pm all these pigeons found 4 decoys irresitable. As we shot them, we added them to the pattern. We got about 15 in the end but it was really good fun for 30 mins. They just kept turning up.

I'm an hour from you and happy to come hold your hand or at least check out your fieldcraft/pattern etc. It could be just a couple of subtle tweaks that help.

Also - can you give an idea of the hide/netting you use and what sort of decoys/floaters etc?

Don't dispair - I've been shooting on and off for 30+ years and NEVER had my red letter day. My fieldcraft is very good but I'm a very average shot.

 

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25 minutes ago, hedge said:

As others have said, it's not an exact science and it can be frustrating. You do as much as you can to increase your chances of success, but even then, there are no guarantees.

You've done some sensible stuff. Seen them on a field and set up on it, only for them to go on the field next door. If there is an abundance of food, they can field hop and you'll never keep up with them (or you need at least 2 shooters covering both fields and hope you can get them to decoy into one or the other - assuming they stay in the area).

Birds don't have to fly over you in any great number (as in groups of 20+). A steady flow is preferable, ones and two's , shoot, reload and wait for the next ones. You do however, need to be under or close to a flight line where there are a steady stream of pigeons to start with.No flightline = no pigeons.

If the pigoens are flying in what I call `high and straight`, they are going somewhere else and you'll struggle to change their mind. If they are flying low, almost hedge hopping and weaving a bit side to side, they are looking to feed and *should* be able to decoy them.

You mention sometimes the pigeons appear to commit then veer off. This could be your pattern is in some way discouraging them and/or they see you/movement and shy away.

To test that theory - if they do appear to decoy, don't move. Stay hidden. See if they land or at least come and have a good look. If they do, the pattern is good and something you are doing is scaring them. If they spook for another reason, you need to work out why.

As for times of day - I've tried early morning flighting with limited joy. As others have said, after lunch seems to work better. They feed, sleep it off and feed some more. Shooting after 6pm in the summer days might yield some fruit but I can't give any specifics. I've has a good evening (after a fairly slow day) when suddenly about 5pm all these pigeons found 4 decoys irresitable. As we shot them, we added them to the pattern. We got about 15 in the end but it was really good fun for 30 mins. They just kept turning up.

I'm an hour from you and happy to come hold your hand or at least check out your fieldcraft/pattern etc. It could be just a couple of subtle tweaks that help.

Also - can you give an idea of the hide/netting you use and what sort of decoys/floaters etc?

Don't dispair - I've been shooting on and off for 30+ years and NEVER had my red letter day. My fieldcraft is very good but I'm a very average shot.

 

I've got 20 odd shells from A1 Decoys https://www.ebay.co.uk/i/201599862217?chn=ps

I've got a Chameleon Pigeon magnet https://www.amazon.co.uk/Chameleon-Hides-Machine-Spinning-Hunting/dp/B07G3F5Y9D/ref=sr_1_7?adgrpid=54325485038&gclid=CjwKCAjw_YPnBRBREiwAIP6TJ-STXgsNlYywUkZVft1p6wbhslBgEkAZMuvyI-njXIUdzB8aj2FZ9RoCc00QAvD_BwE&hvadid=259082995895&hvdev=c&hvlocphy=1006951&hvnetw=g&hvpos=1t1&hvqmt=e&hvrand=8878906263973307865&hvtargid=aud-613701470109%3Akwd-331179724684&hydadcr=28148_1724781&keywords=pigeon+magnet&qid=1558295060&s=gateway&sr=8-7

Though I've changed the decoys on the magnet for something more convincing as the Hypaflaps it comes with barely worked

I've got a few of these full body decoys https://www.a1decoy.co.uk/product/flocked-full-body-feeding-pigeon/

The 2 bouncers I use are Enforcer https://www.countrylifestyleandliving.co.uk/products/0adfd74a-1539-11e9-fa42-288a471f5262?gclid=CjwKCAjw_YPnBRBREiwAIP6TJ9KcOtEd8ZUrccvYOeLHYn5D7Ip3f9MT0PSVsPOMrcLS4T4Zppo1jhoCrGsQAvD_BwE#fo_c=2714&fo_k=48ef917bc944eac6b4d08b5320894787&fo_s=gplauk

 

As for the nets, I use a standard Jack Pyke see-through net as the underskin with a real-tree opaque net over the top of it, then I flesh out the hide with whatever vegetation I've set the hide up against.

I think I'll start going out in the evenings after work when I can, seems it might not be as uneventful as I had assumed!

Having a session pigeon shooting with someone who knows what they're doing would be great, I'm the only person in my circle of family and friends who hunts/shoots and it's been a long hill to climb to even have some idea of what to do :D My worry then is that I'd hate for you to have a trip down for ****** all, if nothing changes in the coming weeks then I shall be in contact and maybe we can find a day that suits us both and hopefully produces!

One of my biggest concerns is crop to shoot over, I've got no access to peas! Seems to be the best crop to shoot pigeons on at this time of year

 

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Posted (edited)

Thanks for the info.

Pigeon decoys look good. They are flocked -  that's what I wanted to check. Shiney deeks can put them off.

Personally - I can take or leave floaters and magnets. Never had them in the early days (1980's). Best thing we had was a pigeon in a cradle and a piece of fishing line that we tugged to get it to `flap`. I've seen floaters and magnets used to good effect and also bad. Again - no rhyme or reason to it. One day the pigeons like it and one day they won't.

It's a kind of process of elimination. If your deeks are good and your hide is good (the main thing is they don't see movement), then you try to figure out what isn't working. If the pigeons appear to be interested/attracted but then veer off, take something out of the equation (i.e floaters and magnet). Go back to basics.

Again - one day they might work and one day they won't. You need to be able to adapt.

I was taught at a young age by my Dad and family friend (gamekeeper) who would sit with me and explain it all. It's a sort of right of passage. They were happy to do it and I have no issue sitting in a field watching the world go by. I shoot with a friend and since he is a much better shot than me, I take great pleasure watching him shoot. I'm good at spotting them, giving him a running commentary and also not bad at retrieving. I'll shoot at stuff and he'll laugh and we'll celebrate the occasional kill. We also split up to cover the ground better and use PMR (walki-talkie) radios to keep in touch and spot for each other. They are really good for shooting corvids as the little **** can come from any direction and having a pair of eyes in the back of your head is very helpful.

I bring snacks and will happily snooze in the hide and just like to watch stuff. I won't be offended if not much happens (I would expect to be amazed though).

As for food sources - if there is something infinitely more exciting than what you are set up on, then yes, you might not see any. I shot over some peas a few years ago that were being `hammered`. We set up and saw very little. We did see signs of other pigeon shooters (shared permission) and it seems the pigeons had moved on.

Even if they don't want to decoy to you, getting under a flight line can still provide some great sporting shots, even if they are only passing through.

I can't give specifics on what you are or are not doing right/wrong. You seem to understand the concept very well and have sensible kit. You might be expecting too much too soon and/or you're competing with more attractive food and plenty of places to dine.

Pigeon shooting can be great fun, but it's also very frustrating at times and a constant learning curve. Just look at PC's posts about the hours and miles he puts in just to find a suitable location. He may shoot 100+ pigeons but he's damn well earnt it. Getting yourself where the pigeons want to be is really important and that takes time, effort, experience and sometimes a bit of luck.

Keep at it - it's a massive learning curve but very enjoyable when everything slots into place.

 

 

Edited by hedge

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J MickeyH,

                 Welcome to the club , I have spent hours and hours watching with binoculars ,setting up different pattern etc etc.

And the expense of Decoys, Nets ,Magnet bouncers,  seat .  Only to get  maybe  half a dozen or so, over stubble.

So now i prefer to roost shoot . Its just easier,

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Sadly not all fields and farms come to that will produce decent shooting , some good advice from above as to watch the fields and take advantage of flight lines and using the wind conditions to your advantage .

This time of the year for the majority of pigeon shooters is slow to say the least , Peas can be a good crop to shoot over but I find nowadays you get very little shooting until the Peas come into pod and then like most fields some will be better than others .

To shoot pigeons fairly constantly you need a lot of time and a lot of land with the right crops been grown , yes you will get the odd bag on your one and only perm but you will need to spread your wings and find the farms and crops that are drawing the pigeons .

To be a successful pigeon shooter you need stick at it over a long period of time and you will then find the odd decent bag will become more regular and new opportunities will come your way .

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Ahem Guys , flight line shooting and roost shooting are not encouraged under the new licence as you need to show the pigeons were destroying a crop or intending to , not easy when they are just flying over or sitting in a tree.

Plus you need to show you have taken all reasonable steps to move them on or discourage them from sitting in your trees, just ask Natural England and Mr Packham if you need more guidance. 

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Want to scrap crows on his gate and replace them with him, loves wildlife so much just reading he wants to cull deer to help Nightingales, quick drop everything Muppet

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28 minutes ago, lakeside1000 said:

Ahem Guys , flight line shooting and roost shooting are not encouraged under the new licence as you need to show the pigeons were destroying a crop or intending to , not easy when they are just flying over or sitting in a tree.

Plus you need to show you have taken all reasonable steps to move them on or discourage them from sitting in your trees, just ask Natural England and Mr Packham if you need more guidance. 

That’s why lots of people have been writing/emailing their local MP, writing to DEFRA’s ‘call for evidence’ and BASC, GL online survey, hoping the numbers and evidence will have some impact on the outcome of the findings and possibly a return to normal for us, we hope.

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I have a feeling that it will NOT just be pigeon decoys that will be 'flocked'  !

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Thanks for all the replies guys, it's appreciated. I will put them into practice in the coming weeks :)

 

On a side note, I've just today been given a new permission - he grows wheat... don't suppose pigeons have any interest in green wheat do they?

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12 hours ago, JMikeyH said:

Thanks for all the replies guys, it's appreciated. I will put them into practice in the coming weeks

 

On a side note, I've just today been given a new permission - he grows wheat... don't suppose pigeons have any interest in green wheat do they?

Pigeon may show some interest when the ears start to fill, milky/putty/hard.

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12 hours ago, JMikeyH said:

Thanks for all the replies guys, it's appreciated. I will put them into practice in the coming weeks

 

On a side note, I've just today been given a new permission - he grows wheat... don't suppose pigeons have any interest in green wheat do they?

hello, Barley will be the first crop that when that turns over in seed as old un mentioned pigeons and blackies will be on it, so with the GL rules your protecting the crop, once you maybe shout ***** off a few times, 

Just now, oldypigeonpopper said:

hello, Barley will be the first crop that when that turns over in seed as old un mentioned pigeons and blackies will be on it, so with the GL rules your protecting the crop, once you maybe shout ***** off a few times, 

that is the farmer has planted barley, wheat will be a bit later by a few weeks. 

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