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lakeside1000

What a weekend that was !

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So my oldest son, now in his late 40's and a very keen shooter flew in from his home in California for 3 days on his way to Bulgaria on business, 

I had already spoken to the estate manager about where and when we could get a few birds, but he was most concerned about one area where hundreds of ferals had been accumulating.

The weather forecast was dire, high winds and heavy showers , so Friday , with a late change of venue we headed down to a large marsh where several hundred feral pigeons have been feeding on old pea fields that had already been harrowed in, 

We arrived around 11.00 am and set up on a field edge with a reed bed behind us as our only wind break, stuck out a few dead birds ( wood pigeons ) and within minutes the ferals were coming in by the dozen, we had a slab of cheap 6's and proceeded to knock them down, they kept coming all day and only the odd heavy shower seemed to put them off, we cleared the woodies away and set up around 20 ferals as decoys, we kept going until around 4 pm when a huge black storm cloud was seen approaching and we had to do a very quick clear up and get off the marsh,

Our total was 108 ferals, which we checked carefully and did not find a single leg ring on any bird which confirmed my suspicions these are birds breading in the huge industrial area on the edge of town, plus 2 woodies and 2 carrion crows, we shot around 210 cartridges which for me was a bit low on the hit rate but considering my lad only shoots 2 or 3 times a year it was a fair score.

Saturday was a day of rest and a chance to clean out the car and my gear, I also had to nip to the gun shop for a few more cartridges.

Sunday after lunch we headed out to a wheat stubble field on another of my perms, I had two visits to this site in the last 3 weeks with a 30 and a 61 , all wood pigeons but quite a few young birds, weather again was high winds and a chance of heavy showers so we took the fishing brolly with us, good judgement on my part.

Set up was in the end of a small wood with a large oak sitting tree just to our left, about twenty full bodied decoys  and 4 crow decoys, I had two hypa flap's out on the down wind edge of the pattern and in the first hour we had only a few shots with 4 birds picked, I noticed several birds turn away before reaching the pattern so I nipped out and retrieved these two, the change was amazing and instant, with no movement in the pattern at all , no magnet, no flappers etc, the birds started coming in like dive bombers, many coming down from several hundred feet up and also sliding in at ground level across the stubble, 

We started with only 125 cartridges and a few odd 7.5's left over from my last clay outing , we shot from 12.30 until around 3.30, when the constant showers had increased to a drenching downpour, we actually ran out of cartridges but not before we had 52 pigeons and 9 crows picked.which seemed to equal our hit rate for the Friday session, leaving us only to clear away in the rain .

All the gear stayed in the car overnight as it was too wet to sort it, so today I spent a couple of hours cleaning out the car and drying off all my gear, all the woodies now in the freezer ,crows in the fridge for the next outing and a visit to the tip to get rid of the ferals as nobody seems to want them for any useful reason.

At least one more visit to the feral feeding grounds is on the cards as we didn't even make a dent in the numbers, but cartridge costs just on the ferals was around 50 quid and another 30 ish for the Sunday so it looks like I will be on bread and water for some time to come, but what a weekend,    

Edited by lakeside1000

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Good report(s) on your quest to reduce the local feral pigeon population , gone are the days when you could get more for a feral pigeon than you can now get for a frozen Wood Pigeon , we shot a lot with a B S A Airsproter and a Webley mark three while waiting for the real thing to turn up , both of the guns were nearly identical and a lot cheaper than using our cartridges , we took them to Frostgame at Brockdish by the sack full and at the time he was paying 40p for fresh Wood pigeons and 20p for small pigeons that the tame ones were classed at . that was well over 40 years ago and at the time they were advertising in the Shooting Times for a Million and they would donate 1d on each one they bought to the B F S S fighting fund , that is going back a bit :yes:

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I used to shoot around Melton Mowbrey  on the Leicester Nott's border in the early seventies, I don't remember ever getting paid for a feral, we used to get 40 p for woodies and 5 p for grey squirrel tails, I also once got 3.50 for a full red fox pelt just freshly taken off the carcass .but that was a one off as I didn't normally shoot anything bigger than a hare, almost all my pigeon,rabbit,hare and all game would be bought up by locals who knew me and would buy out of the boot of my car, never had to gut pluck or skin anything, they couldn't get enough, but that's all gone now, I cannot sell rabbits , hares or game birds, no one wants them, just pigeons to the game dealer for 15 p each, and he picks them over rejecting any small birds. At the rate of kills to cartridges my per bird cost is around 42p, then add electric for the freezers and petrol to take them to the dealer and this pastime of ours starts to get a bit expensive for anyone keen enough to become a serious vermin control volunteer. I dont include equipment costs as most of this can be recouped by selling it on once you have had enough. which for me may be sooner rather than later. 

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Get a mincer. 2/3rd or even 1/2 pork belly or shoulder (belly is better) and the rest pigeon. Great burgers and sausages. The mixes and skins on the net are cheap and easy enough for the sausages and you can do as you like with the burgers. 

My preference is a leek and chive sausage mix as it goes well with pigeon and make it in 12kg batches.

A dehydrator and jerky mix (or your own) and you can make jerky in 4 or 5 hours. You can soon use up a lot of birds and may wonder why you ever bothered selling them. It's also remarkably easy to give away or sell at cost when it's a sausage. 

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