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Tips 'n' Tricks

Tips in the field

(Click Here To get the basic advice before you go out shooting)

1) Know which pattern of decoys to use and when. Here are some examples which you can try!:

cross wind

horse shoe

elong L

Never have the sides of the horse shoe too close or else...

cross wind BAD

1) Now you know how to set up your decoy in most winds here is another important point: always make sure your decoys heads face into the wind, not in regimental fashion but so that the majority face into the wind and the rest are semi sideways.

2) Get a decent (fishing) seat or a small plastic crate to sit on. If you get a crate then you may want to get a cushion to put on top of it. This is ultra important as it affects your shooting and also means that you don't end up with sore knees or bum at the end of the day.

3) Often on a bright day many want to reach for the sunglasses when they are going out shooting. However this can have adverse effects. This is because the lenses and frames glint - alerting birds to your presence- and black glasses on a white face is even more menacing to a woodie than just a white face on its own. If you must shade your eyes, then wear a wide brimmed hat as this will also disguise your face just make sure that it is in a dull colour.

4) Everyone knows that the best decoys that you can get are the 'real McCoys' but if you have to use decoys to get the ball rolling (as I often do) I recommend sticking on wings, tail feathers and even normals feathers as this obviously prevents glinting and makes even shell decoys look more impressive. If you can't do this than I am told you can also coat them with 'humbrol super matt 49' this is available I am told from most modelling shops although I personally have not seen or used it.

5) Read the crops to watch section as this tells you what crops the pigeons 'should' be feeding on!

6) When you have shot birds you need to prop at least 50% of their heads up to look natural like a feeding flock. Instead of searching for a forked twig instead go to Sainsburys -or your local supermarket- you can buy 100 kebabs sticks for 90p, and they are perfect for the job!

7) In the summer or during a spell of hot weather it isn't possible to simply put the pigeons down in the garage. Otherwise ovenight they will all become 'fly blown' and will rot in the warm weather anyway. If you've got a large number and can't be bothered to pluck them all then stack the pigeons in bread tray breast upwards then cover the whole thing with damp sack cloth. Then take them as soon as possible to your gamedealer or pluck and freeze them a.s.a.p the next morning to stop the meat from going bad.

8) A covering of snow is a mixed blessing with pigeon shooting. It channels all the pigeons into a few fields where the crop is still poking through however the white covering makes it very difficult for them to see decoys. For this reason it is better to try and get under a flightline instead. Another trouble is that you and your hide will stick out like a sore thumb you can wear a cheap pair of cotton overalls to stop this problem and for the hide simply use one or two dust sheets draped over any suitable objects. Next the blueing of your gun (the black barrels) is a dead giveaway so you can instead stick on white masking tape -althought this may leave residue on the gun barrels. If in doubt don't cover the gun instead wait for the woodies to come close!

9) Place a few woodies in you pattern like this to add variety and a pigeon or two about to land. Don't do too many like this as it will disturb woodies coming in who may think it is a flock about to fly away. One, two or three will be fine for you whole pattern.

hold the pigeon like thisspread wings
Spread tailFinished!

Hold the bird then place it down onto the ground and spread out the tail. Finished product- the image of a pigeon about to land!

10) In winter rape it is very difficult for the shooter because the decoys seem to blend in with it and so the pigeons above don't see them. One way of fixing this is by reducing the space between them to six feet. This makes them stand out more also try to get some wire cradles so that you can get the pigeons above the crop so that they stand out even better!

11) If your decoys are getting on a bit repaint the white and it will work a treat. Tip submitted by: Steve Wash

12) I put a 5-gallon oil drum, with the lid on one side cut off, into an army kit bag. There is room for your decoys and bits of kit inside the drum. Put a bit of foam on top of the drum before you put it in the bag. It makes a strong high seat easy to get up to shoot, and easy to carry over you shoulder. It also carrys all the kit you need! Tip submitted by: Michael Colley - Mikec. Thanks for the pictures mike!

13) As the ground thaws and gets muddy underfoot. Take a carrier bag of straw and spread on the ground here you intend to build your hide. The straw prevents a puddle of mud being created by the movement of feet when standing to shoot, and also acts as foot insulation on frosty days. No need to clear it up after shooting, most of it will be there next time you go to the same spot, but take some more. Plants will grow though the straw, which will get ploughed in, and a carrier bag is also useful to carry the shot pigeon home in. Tip submitted by: John & Gary

14) Ever forget how many pigeons you have managed to shoot? I often used to forget and was never sure that I had collected all that I had managed to shoot. The clicker counters used at pheasant shoots are fine, but have you seen the price! Be brave, enter the knitting shop and buy a counter that slides onto a knitting needle. They cost around 1. Mine is attached to my front net with a small cable tie. Tip submitted by: John and Gary

15) Having problems finding out what where the pigeons are feeding? Firstly find out which crop their feeding on. You can do this by waiting in the roosting woods, or if this is'nt available to you by waiting on a flightline when the pigeons are going back to roost. I've found it easier to wait on a piece of high ground as they seem to fly lower over a hill. When you've shot one open up it's crop and you will see what the pigeon has been feeding on.The next day, if you know your area, you should be able to go straight to the fields which had been fed on the previous day. It won't work all the time but it can help when you haven't much time. Tip submitted by: Larry

16) If you're reasonably handy with a spanner, and electrical wire then this is for you! A wiper motor, almost any car type will do, a piece of aluminium pole approximately 6ft long is all that is required. Bend the aluminium pole to approximately 30degrees and flatten one end. Drill through the flattened end using a drill bit the same size thread as the one on the motor. Fit a shakeproof washer (to prevent it coming loose) and then get yourself a flapping decoy which you can sit on the other end of the pole. You have to play around a bit to make it sit tidy when it is swinging. Alternatively I am sure you could use a coat hanger and bend it into the shape of a cradle. You then sit the pigeon in that making sure the coat hangers ends are out a bit so that you can spread the pigeons wings (see diagram) and a non flapping but certainly a moving pigeon.

What I used was a piece of steel bar2/6 to 3 FT long. Welded an old Pc. angle on the side in the shape of a figure 7, 1 ft up the side of the bar so that when you push it well into the ground the side bar stops it from swinging. The motor is held on in a exhaust clamp "U" bold type welded to the top of the rod on the side. Here is a picture to help you understand Go on make the effort Glen says it is well worth it! Tip submitted by: Glen

Pigeon Shooting Attractor flapping decoyIt is not clear from the diagram but you would also want the "figure 7" ideally to be facing the other way to the pigeon to help balance the machine out.

17) Try the decoys with a hacksaw blade in the hole in the bottom they rock in the wind works a treat. Tip submitted by: Paul Kitchenham.

18) Ever thought of buying a pigeon cradle, one that keeps the wings spread out? I did but the cost was about 25. I made one for about 2. All you need is a rod of steel about 5ft long and about 5mm thick, and a piece of stout wire about 2mm thick and about 2ft long. Bend one end of the rod slightly so that the pigeons head is sitting upright. Next bend the wire into a " V " shape and attach this to the rod with either wire, so that it can slide up and down. This enables you to alter the pitch of the birds wings. Or alternatvly you could weld it on. Then bend the end inch of both sides of the V so that you can push the birds wings onto it. There you have it a cheap effective cradle. Tip submitted by: David Peake

19)My mate created a very simple but very effective pigeon 'cradle' using the old type wire coat hangers. To use them, simply cut the coat hanger at the base directly under the hook. Then bend the ( now ) two sides upwards towards the hook until you have a shape like a letter U ( with the hook no on the inside and facing up. ) Turn the hanger upside down and you have two 'legs' with a hook facing down. By glueing little hooks onto the decoy backs you can hang the pigeon on the hanger. The decoy 'bobs' very realistically and by altering the gap between the legs fixed in the ground you can adjust the amount of movement of the decoy. also by placing the 'legs' of the hanger in bamboo you can make the decoy higher off the ground. I hope that I have explained this clearly- try it out, they really do work. Tip and Pictures kindly submitted by: Steve Bradshaw.

Please submit another tip to:tips@pigeonwatch.co.uk Thankyou!

Basic Advice

1) Get the basic equipment!

I assume all of you have a gun license and a shotgun so I won't bother explaining about that as although many professional pigeon shooters recommend a 12 bore, I find my 20 bore quite suitable for the job. You will obviously need cartridges and I will always recommend take more than you think as the number of times I have heard that, the pigeon were streaming in but I had to pack up at 2:00 because I had run out of cartridges... I can only imagine if I had more cartridges how many I would have shot! You don't need any particular clothing to go out just get some dull green or brown clothes you also don't need a hide to start with because often you can find somewhere to crouch down and remain hidden. I would recommend you purchased 6 or 12 shell pigeon decoys from your local gunshop as these can really improve the day by starting to get the ball rolling.
b) Bring a thermos flask of coffee or something hot just in case the weather takes a turn for the worse remember that alcohol and firearms don't mix!! Tip submitted by: Larry

2) Get shooting land

If you don't have any shooting land then go out and ask farmers or alternatively join a pigeon club in your area.Click here to go and get tips on getting permission from a farmer!

3) Watch the pigeons in your area.

Even spending 5 mins in the car or taking your dog for a walk to look for pigeons can often bring big rewards. Look for fields that seem to be particularly damaged, or flight lines, or newly ploughed fields, or freshly drilled fields, or freshly combined fields as these will often be the key place for the pigeons in your area. Once you have located the pigeon hot spots ask the farmer for permission if it is not on 'your' farmers land. Use Cop watch to tell you which crops to look out for each month!

4) Get on good terms with the farmer.

As a good will gesture at Christmas buy the farmer a bottle of whiskey or whatever he likes. This will mean that the farmer will when his field is being hammered by pigeons not turn to others to shoot it. Also make sure that if the farmer has any other shooters on his patch you get on good terms with them and establish an agreement as to which days each can manage off work etc...

5) Get Shooting magazines.

If you are browsing through a bookshop or are buying the paper at a newagent look for magazines like Sporting Gun, The Shooting Times, The Shooting Gazette or The Field. Look at them and search for pigeon shooting articles then read them if you find some useful tips then buy the magazine and learn them for when you next go out into the field.

6) What do with the pigeons if you manage to shoot any

I don't consider any person to be a true sportsman if they don't eat or sell the 'harvest' which they have shot. I can't recomend highly enough pigeon meat as I think that it is one of the finest meats. It is simple to pluck with the feathers coming off much more easily than with other gamebirds and tastes great! I recommend either roasting it like a chicken, or making a pigeon pie, either way it tastes delicious!