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Will The Poor Demand For Pigeons Affect The UK Pigeon Population ?


marsh man
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We know a lot of the members on P W manage to eat or give away most if not all the pigeons they shoot , but their are several that shoot large numbers and offload them at the game dealers , now if you are lucky to find a dealer that are are taking frozen pigeons then you would need to take well into three figures just to cover your fuel , as far as I know we have only got one dealer in the whole of Norfolk that are taking frozen pigeons and the returns are very poor to say the least , at the moment they are making 10 pence for both fresh and frozen .

Now I can't really see the people who make big bags are going to continue shooting big numbers and haven't got a outlet or if they have got one they could end up losing money by taking them , when the same question was put out awhile back, one of the top big bag boys ( Pigeon Controller ) said on here he would not shoot big bags of Pigeons if he didn't have a market for them and I think that would be the same for most of us who sell the bag . 

So will this lack of demand and very poor returns when you do find a buyer make a difference to the pigeon population ? , it was always stated in the past that a very cold Winter kill off more pigeons than all the pigeon shooters put together , now with milder Winters and a never ending food supply the chances of the weather alone killing off large numbers of pigeons are very remote .

So in our wildest dreams , could we ever see the day where the ministry of agriculture bring back the cheap , or free cartridges like they did in the Rabbit Clearance Society days ? , or could the numbers rapidly get out of control and costing farmers a fortune ?

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I've never seen a decline in pigeon numbers in the last 34 years I have Been shooting them I think they are actually increasing, and you are right about offloading them I have nearly 300 in the freezers that i can't sell or give away for that matter could of shot a lot more last few weeks they are frozen and not wasted  I won't shoot anymore until I can 

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Hi marsh man I’ve used a few game dealers for pigeon over the years. I used one from Chesterfield for a long time until till they stopped trading, they collected on Thursdays when they were delivering to Blackpool . I have used a game dealer from the Wirral, he would give two or three cartridges for each pigeon . He would pay me as I didn’t use 12gauge cartridges. For about  ten years I’ve been using steel shot and the pigeons go to animal feed (collected). Any young pigeons or pigeon shot with air guns go to friends. A few years ago it was rabbits that were wanted for dog food. Whole frozen rabbits are fed skin still on the dog will chew it like eating a jubly ,can’t remember how to spell it, I don’t shoot pigeons to sell ,I just sell or give away what I shoot,   If there was no demand for the pigeons or rabbits l shoot I would still shoot them, if I stopped it would be unfair to my farmer friends. It’s a lot easier to (dump)pigeons than to keep them cool and keep the flies away and then cool and freeze them.I’m in my seventies my friends are in their eighties after a lifetime of shooting if a farmer calls and asks me to shoot pigeons I couldn’t say sorry but no one wants dead pigeons. I also shot rats and corvids, no one wants them. I think people forget it’s about pest control. I don’t think we will ever be given cartridges by the government. I have been given cartridges from farmers. The numbers of pigeons are increasing every year. It’s the urban pigeon taking over they are sitting on lampposts and roofs all over the country. 

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I can understand where your coming from when you don't want to let your farmers or land owners down when it comes to crop protection and pest control , no and neither do I , but as we all know most of the Pigeons shot throughout the Mid and late Summer are shot on stubbles and at the moment it is around the peak time of the year when the young are now on the wing , if we are honest about why we shoot Pigeons , for me and a lot of other Pigeon shooters it for the sport and we are protecting the farmers crops while enjoying the sport .

In 50 odd years of shooting Pigeons I have never had a farmer or land owner ring me up complaining about the amount of Pigeons that are are on his stubbles , in fact their was a time when we had to leave them alone on the Pea stubbles as while they were eating the loose Peas they wern't eating anything else .

I still continue enjoying my sport but on a lesser scale than I once did , this is mainly through old age aches and pains , poor demand for dead pigeons and the ever increasing cost of the cartridges.

I have been giving cartridges in the past to keep them off crops but never to shoot them on stubbles and I dare say this is the same with many Pigeon shooters.

It was once stated by P C that he shoot around 7000 / 8000 pigeons a year and had seven freezers to store them in , now if that one persons bag is no longer shot and other Pigeon shooters who also stopped shooting those kind of bags ,or at least eased up , then how soon would the population of Pigeons seriously build up ?

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Theres no shortage of woodpigeomns were i shoot. Ive used steel shot  (28 no 7s trap loads)for 14 years and have never had a problem selling them. I shoot for pest control over 22 different farms and would lose at least 50% of permissions if not shooting pests especially woodies. there are markets out there if you look hard enough. i work 3 dogs so the meat would never go to waste. 

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Hi Marshman, you make several interesting points . The pigeon population continues to rise , but the large reduction of oilseed rape/winter food is starting to have an effect in some areas . 

They are costing the farmers millions in damaged crops nationwide. It still amazes me that the view  expressed by many farmers “ there not doing any harm” when they are stubbling or working a fresh drilling. It’s a failed military strategy to feed the enemy in the summer so they can hit you harder in the winter!  I had exactly that problem yesterday when canvassing a local farmer. 

From now on I will make the point to farmers  that every pigeon killed is one less to feed, breed and to lead it’s flockmates back to their  fields. If they were a plague of rats in the grain store they would do something pretty quick.

 

 

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19 minutes ago, Blueflame said:

Hi Marshman, you make several interesting points . The pigeon population continues to rise , but the large reduction of oilseed rape/winter food is starting to have an effect in some areas . 

They are costing the farmers millions in damaged crops nationwide. It still amazes me that the view  expressed by many farmers “ there not doing any harm” when they are stubbling or working a fresh drilling. It’s a failed military strategy to feed the enemy in the summer so they can hit you harder in the winter!  I had exactly that problem yesterday when canvassing a local farmer. 

From now on I will make the point to farmers  that every pigeon killed is one less to feed, breed and to lead it’s flockmates back to their  fields. If they were a plague of rats in the grain store they would do something pretty quick.

 

 

That is it in a nutshell.

Pigeons in the winter in arable areas which grow rape (a lot but by no means all) have either just fed on rape or will be feeding on it later that day or the next day.

I have no time for farmers who say that pigeons do not cause damage to rape over the winter. 

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4 hours ago, marsh man said:

I can understand where your coming from when you don't want to let your farmers or land owners down when it comes to crop protection and pest control , no and neither do I , but as we all know most of the Pigeons shot throughout the Mid and late Summer are shot on stubbles and at the moment it is around the peak time of the year when the young are now on the wing , if we are honest about why we shoot Pigeons , for me and a lot of other Pigeon shooters it for the sport and we are protecting the farmers crops while enjoying the sport .

In 50 odd years of shooting Pigeons I have never had a farmer or land owner ring me up complaining about the amount of Pigeons that are are on his stubbles , in fact their was a time when we had to leave them alone on the Pea stubbles as while they were eating the loose Peas they wern't eating anything else .

I still continue enjoying my sport but on a lesser scale than I once did , this is mainly through old age aches and pains , poor demand for dead pigeons and the ever increasing cost of the cartridges.

I have been giving cartridges in the past to keep them off crops but never to shoot them on stubbles and I dare say this is the same with many Pigeon shooters.

It was once stated by P C that he shoot around 7000 / 8000 pigeons a year and had seven freezers to store them in , now if that one persons bag is no longer shot and other Pigeon shooters who also stopped shooting those kind of bags ,or at least eased up , then how soon would the population of Pigeons seriously build up ?

Although a number of people on here have said they would not shoot pigeons if they did not have an outlet for them I think you would be surprised at just how many people are willing to shoot pigeons even if they have no outlet for them, I for one have and still do on occasions shoot and dump pigeons if I have no room in the freezer.

Its simple, if I get a call to shoot pigeons and I say I have no room or outlet for them so I will not shoot them, I am pretty sure I will not get another call.

Think some have got into their mindset that because pigeons are edible we must not shoot them unless we are going to eat or sell them, pigeons are no different than rabbits, Squirrels, rats or blacks or any other agriculture pests.

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1 minute ago, old'un said:

Although a number of people on here have said they would not shoot pigeons if they did not have an outlet for them I think you would be surprised at just how many people are willing to shoot pigeons even if they have no outlet for them, I for one have and still do on occasions shoot and dump pigeons if I have no room in the freezer.

Its simple, if I get a call to shoot pigeons and I say I have no room or outlet for them so I will not shoot them, I am pretty sure I will not get another call.

Think some have got into their mindset that because pigeons are edible we must not shoot them unless we are going to eat or sell them, pigeons are no different than rabbits, Squirrels, rats or blacks or any other agriculture pests.

Exactly this. 

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1 hour ago, old'un said:

Although a number of people on here have said they would not shoot pigeons if they did not have an outlet for them I think you would be surprised at just how many people are willing to shoot pigeons even if they have no outlet for them, I for one have and still do on occasions shoot and dump pigeons if I have no room in the freezer.

Its simple, if I get a call to shoot pigeons and I say I have no room or outlet for them so I will not shoot them, I am pretty sure I will not get another call.

Think some have got into their mindset that because pigeons are edible we must not shoot them unless we are going to eat or sell them, pigeons are no different than rabbits, Squirrels, rats or blacks or any other agriculture pests.

I don't think it's a case of not shooting any Pigeons because the demand have dried up, it's more of a case of not shooting as many as they did when they could offload them , I look at shooting pigeons on the stubbles is payback time for all the time I had spent trying to protect the crops , and now and for the last few weeks I have got a free hand to shoot the stubbles when I want , it wouldn't make the slightest bit of difference to the landowner if I went seven days a week or not at all , he knows fully well if he rang me up and say their is several pigeons getting on the xxxx I would be there either the same to have a look and shoot it , or shoot it the next day .

In all the years I have shots Pigeons I have never dumped the bag , the odd ones I have used on the magnet yes but never the bag , a return trip to the game dealer is just over 80 miles and I would sooner take them knowing they have gone in the food chain even though I have got next to nothing rather than dump the days bag in the rubbish pit , these were the last ones I took when we diverted from the coast on a day out . 

 

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Apart from those I breast, all mine are dumped as unfortunately no one wants them and I don’t have any storage for carcasses. 
I had a game dealer for rabbits but he would only take them in quantities of at least a hundred a time. 

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8 hours ago, Scully said:

I’d shoot any given number whether I had an outlet or not, it’s pest control. Rabbits and crows/corvids are shot for the same reason. I don’t know of anyone who has an outlet for the latter. 

 

 

this

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now i know why two more perms have come along outlet or not when the phone rings you go or someone else will your there for only one reason saves the farmer doing the job his self saying that giving the push goes both ways while it’s my diesel carts etc any whining over stubble and you won’t get me on the phone come winter 

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I don't shoot enough to worry about dumping them. That said I turn the lot into sausages,burgers and the like. I can use a lot of pigeon breast up quite easily. Given its good for you and tasty I don't know why more shooters don't do the same. 

The lack of rape this last winter hasn't affected numbers on my perm. Not very much at all grown with 5 or so miles. 

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Hi marsh man . the time l shoot most pigeons is when the cereal crops are still growing and the pigeons are nesting. A lot of pigeons are shot in the area by other shooters and farmers over growing crops. The number of pigeons increases each year the local bto ringers know how many are shot and they know the numbers are still increasing. They think it’s about the lack of squirrels and predators the eggs and chicks are surviving when one of the pairs are shot and the nest is left unattended. I know if I stopped shooting over growing cereal crops a lot more pigeons and there offspring would be flying around . If I didn’t collect and take care of the pigeons I shot l could spend more time shooting more of them. I think more pigeons will be shot and more will be ditched because no one wants them. I wouldn’t carry pigeons to a dealer and be paid ten pence for each one. I don’t know any other shooters who would.When the first crops are cut l leave the pigeons on them. We have a lot more ivy now and hundreds of pigeons feed on it in winter. I don’t shoot them as it keeps them away from the rape fields. I think shooting pigeons on stubble fields is more about numbers shot, they call it a ton or two ton. 

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21 hours ago, Gas seal said:

Hi marsh man . the time l shoot most pigeons is when the cereal crops are still growing and the pigeons are nesting. A lot of pigeons are shot in the area by other shooters and farmers over growing crops. The number of pigeons increases each year the local bto ringers know how many are shot and they know the numbers are still increasing. They think it’s about the lack of squirrels and predators the eggs and chicks are surviving when one of the pairs are shot and the nest is left unattended. I know if I stopped shooting over growing cereal crops a lot more pigeons and there offspring would be flying around . If I didn’t collect and take care of the pigeons I shot l could spend more time shooting more of them. I think more pigeons will be shot and more will be ditched because no one wants them. I wouldn’t carry pigeons to a dealer and be paid ten pence for each one. I don’t know any other shooters who would.When the first crops are cut l leave the pigeons on them. We have a lot more ivy now and hundreds of pigeons feed on it in winter. I don’t shoot them as it keeps them away from the rape fields. I think shooting pigeons on stubble fields is more about numbers shot, they call it a ton or two ton. 

Very interesting , it just goes to show how it varies from one area to another , this year we shot very few on growing grain crops , some places had small areas of laid patches but on the estate where I shoot we never had a stem went down , I dare say I shoot roughly 25 / 30% pigeons over crops and the rest on what stubbles are available  , we keep going on stubbles for another 2 / 3 weeks and then call it a day as the first shoots are only a few weeks away and I am tied up on all the shoots .

We then get very little trouble with pigeons until after Christmas and even then it change from year to year , when the game season finish we let various people go in the woods for the four Saturdays in February and its not fair if I shot a few beside a wood on a rape field mid week and somebody was looking forward in having a go on the Saturday , come March I then have a free hand to keep an eye on the Rape , if no , or a very few are showing interest then that is all I do is to keep an eye on it as I can only shoot pigeons on the rape if they are going on it in the first place , as the month wear on the Rape is sprayed and it begin to take off , we do shoot some at this stage of growth but again it vary , early April our Peas are going in and the rape is left alone as it is then getting well up , the Pea drilling is a dead loss and we don't get any till they are well above ground , we then get a few on the growing Peas in May and a few on thin patches of Rape , this carry on till the Peas are cut around the 1st / 2nd week in July , then our Winter barley was ready to be combined on the 3rd week in July , so I was now shooting numbers over Pea stubble and as the stubble started to rot the first barley stubbles fields came into play, from then up to the present day I have shot nothing but stubble fields and tomorrow wont be any different as we are shooting over Bean stubble , so I don't think I am far out when I say shooting pigeons over crops only resulted in a about a quarter of my years Pigeon tally .

Unless Pigeon shooters don't go on the stubbles I would be surprised if they shot more throughout the year on crops than they would on the stubbles :hmm:

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The last couple of years pigeons are feeding on wheat a lot more than barley. This year I shot a lot on oats. The wheat doesn’t go flat the pigeons land in the tramlines . I find this a lot easier to shoot than laid crops and find the dead pigeons as they are in the tramlines and the short wheat makes it better to find them. Pigeons will fly in and land in the tramlines, a few times other shooters have seen this and said that’s easy shooting, my friend said it’s not he just makes it look easy. This is the time to shoot pigeons and shoot them hard. When the first crops are cut l leave the pigeons to feed on the stubble and keep shooting the growing crops. Large numbers are shot in the area over growing crops. I do shoot pigeons over stubble fields and flighting. The last couple of weeks I have been shooting over grubbed up fields and flighting pigeons going to new drilled rape. The last crop of barley has not long been cut and I will start shooting the stubbles now. It’s not just pigeons on the stubble fields I have been shooting rabbits and Canada geese. Another crop i shoot pigeons on is clover, new or cut clover is a good crop for pigeons. I also use air guns and rim fire to shoot pigeons. If shot with air guns l can give them to friends. The rim fire I use segmented rounds and they can’t be used to much damage.This is why I think more pigeons will be shot if there is no market for them . When I’ve shot the pigeons my friend, he’s turned Eighty, cuts off the feet and wings and  I use the wings for decoys l push skewer through two wings and set them out. I’ve been doing this since the early sixties my brother would tie them to the decoys we had or make a cardboard tube to tie them to. Then we just used the wings tied together with wool using a darning needle, now I use skewers to pin them together put them on the wheat each side of the tramlines. My friend collected rubber bands that the post man dropped one day and used them to fix the wings to the  crop .I use wings for decoys on any crop l shoot over.I think I shoot more pigeons over growing crops is because I shoot over them for longer each year.the farms I shoot don’t have game shooting or gamekeeper.l grew up wild-fowling and not wasting what I shot I still look after the pigeons I shoot . If they are no longer needed I would still shoot them. I shoot over rape and move the large flocks with rockets it’s a waste of time trying to shoot  large flocks of pigeons.  .I don’t think pigeons or game will go into the food market for much longer. I would give away pigeons to local people who came over when I finished shooting. A man would bring a bowl and a knife and breast them in the field. No one asks for a couple of pigeons now. 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Gas seal said:

The last couple of years pigeons are feeding on wheat a lot more than barley. This year I shot a lot on oats. The wheat doesn’t go flat the pigeons land in the tramlines . I find this a lot easier to shoot than laid crops and find the dead pigeons as they are in the tramlines and the short wheat makes it better to find them. Pigeons will fly in and land in the tramlines, a few times other shooters have seen this and said that’s easy shooting, my friend said it’s not he just makes it look easy. This is the time to shoot pigeons and shoot them hard. When the first crops are cut l leave the pigeons to feed on the stubble and keep shooting the growing crops. Large numbers are shot in the area over growing crops. I do shoot pigeons over stubble fields and flighting. The last couple of weeks I have been shooting over grubbed up fields and flighting pigeons going to new drilled rape. The last crop of barley has not long been cut and I will start shooting the stubbles now. It’s not just pigeons on the stubble fields I have been shooting rabbits and Canada geese. Another crop i shoot pigeons on is clover, new or cut clover is a good crop for pigeons. I also use air guns and rim fire to shoot pigeons. If shot with air guns l can give them to friends. The rim fire I use segmented rounds and they can’t be used to much damage.This is why I think more pigeons will be shot if there is no market for them . When I’ve shot the pigeons my friend, he’s turned Eighty, cuts off the feet and wings and  I use the wings for decoys l push skewer through two wings and set them out. I’ve been doing this since the early sixties my brother would tie them to the decoys we had or make a cardboard tube to tie them to. Then we just used the wings tied together with wool using a darning needle, now I use skewers to pin them together put them on the wheat each side of the tramlines. My friend collected rubber bands that the post man dropped one day and used them to fix the wings to the  crop .I use wings for decoys on any crop l shoot over.I think I shoot more pigeons over growing crops is because I shoot over them for longer each year.the farms I shoot don’t have game shooting or gamekeeper.l grew up wild-fowling and not wasting what I shot I still look after the pigeons I shoot . If they are no longer needed I would still shoot them. I shoot over rape and move the large flocks with rockets it’s a waste of time trying to shoot  large flocks of pigeons.  .I don’t think pigeons or game will go into the food market for much longer. I would give away pigeons to local people who came over when I finished shooting. A man would bring a bowl and a knife and breast them in the field. No one asks for a couple of pigeons now. 

 

 

 

One interesting item in this weeks Shooting Times apart from on the front cover that states is the start of the wildfowling season to early ? , a subject I mentioned a few weeks back , is an article on lead shot contaminating the Wheat crops , I didn't read it all but I am sure we will hear more about it in the weeks ahead , plus other crops that get lead shot fired over it .

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3 minutes ago, marsh man said:

One interesting item in this weeks Shooting Times apart from on the front cover that states is the start of the wildfowling season to early ? , a subject I mentioned a few weeks back , is an article on lead shot contaminating the Wheat crops , I didn't read it all but I am sure we will hear more about it in the weeks ahead , plus other crops that get lead shot fired over it .

The were using lead in grain store from what I seen.... not field contamination.

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It a personal thing when it comes to what it done with the bag. And what way you look at a pigeon. I think he's a brilliant , versatile, and very opportunistic bird. Plus he's a beautiful looking Bird, especially when you see them white bars of his wings flashing against a barley stubble commiting to your decoy's. To me he's not a pest, but a very sporting Bird that provides lots of sport. And lot's of meat, that can be used in many ways.. it would not rest easy with me dumping score's of pigeons, I think They deserve more respect than that, and I definitely would not put them in same category as a crow or a rat. And I think deep down, most shooting men know it's not right dumping Birds. But use the excuse they only pests.. but I wouldn't consider myself a hardcore pigeon shooter,  but definitely a very enthusiastic recreational pigeon shooter. And if there is a opportunity I'll try and make the most of it.. so as I said at start, it's a personal thing and what way you look at a pigeon. 

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22 minutes ago, Krico woodcock said:

It a personal thing when it comes to what it done with the bag. And what way you look at a pigeon. I think he's a brilliant , versatile, and very opportunistic bird. Plus he's a beautiful looking Bird, especially when you see them white bars of his wings flashing against a barley stubble commiting to your decoy's. To me he's not a pest, but a very sporting Bird that provides lots of sport. And lot's of meat, that can be used in many ways.. it would not rest easy with me dumping score's of pigeons, I think They deserve more respect than that, and I definitely would not put them in same category as a crow or a rat. And I think deep down, most shooting men know it's not right dumping Birds. But use the excuse they only pests.. but I wouldn't consider myself a hardcore pigeon shooter,  but definitely a very enthusiastic recreational pigeon shooter. And if there is a opportunity I'll try and make the most of it.. so as I said at start, it's a personal thing and what way you look at a pigeon. 

I agree with all you say about wood pigeons apart from the fact that you see them as not pests, think you need to ask a few of your farmers what they think when they are hitting his corn and rape fields, they are an agriculture pest.

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1 hour ago, old'un said:

I agree with all you say about wood pigeons apart from the fact that you see them as not pests, think you need to ask a few of your farmers what they think when they are hitting his corn and rape fields, they are an agriculture pest.

Hi old un. I'm well aware that they are a agriculture pest at times. I Know lots of farmers that that definitely don't see a pigeon as I do. As I said in original post it's a personal thing at what way you look at a pigeon. When I see pigeons on a flight line going into a field I don't think " flying rats".. But am fortunate that farmers don't Care what I think of them as long as I shoot them.. I'm not saying who's right or who's wrong or what way any one does thing's.

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6 hours ago, Krico woodcock said:

It a personal thing when it comes to what it done with the bag. And what way you look at a pigeon. I think he's a brilliant , versatile, and very opportunistic bird. Plus he's a beautiful looking Bird, especially when you see them white bars of his wings flashing against a barley stubble commiting to your decoy's. To me he's not a pest, but a very sporting Bird that provides lots of sport. And lot's of meat, that can be used in many ways.. it would not rest easy with me dumping score's of pigeons, I think They deserve more respect than that, and I definitely would not put them in same category as a crow or a rat. And I think deep down, most shooting men know it's not right dumping Birds. But use the excuse they only pests.. but I wouldn't consider myself a hardcore pigeon shooter,  but definitely a very enthusiastic recreational pigeon shooter. And if there is a opportunity I'll try and make the most of it.. so as I said at start, it's a personal thing and what way you look at a pigeon. 

Like you say, they are a very sporting bird, which if we’re honest, is why we do it. We enjoy it. 
They are a pest species, which is why we are allowed to shoot them. We are only allowed to shoot them as part of pest control, and not for sport. But of course you know all that. 

Not having an outlet for the meat has absolutely nothing to do with pest control, whether it’s pigeons, corvids rabbits or rats. 

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