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Pigeon Decoy Shooting – What is it and How to Get Started!

Last Modified On: Posted in Shooting and Guides

As spring and summer heat begins to head our way, many of you will be looking forward to taking to the field and lending your local farmers a hand by participating in the art of woodpigeon shooting.

If you are new to woodpigeon shooting or a veteran alike, these hints and tips will help you find the best and most enjoyable result.

Two utter essentials……make sure you have permission and remember to take a seat!!

What is decoying?

There are various techniques used for shooting woodpigeon in different seasons, however one of the most popular techniques is decoying. 

Decoying involves watching pigeon flight lines, analysing the wind direction and placing around a dozen decoy woodpigeons in a specific pattern in an attempt to flight the pigeon directly into your target zone and range. Why do you need around a dozen pigeon decoys? pigeon fly and feed with their friends - by using a dozen decoys, in the correct pattern pigeons will be convinced they are coming for a good feed on the field.

One of the most popular pigeon decoys is the pigeon magnet. These have either two or four decoys attached to a motor making the decoys “fly” around in a circle making other pigeon think they are circling around a good feeding area.  They save a lot of hassle in setting things up and are quick and easy to get working with fantastic results as they will pull in pigeon from three times the distance that a static decoy will.

Setting up the Traditional Static Decoy

The set up of decoys can be quick tricky, it’s an art and practice makes perfect. Traditionally you should set your decoys up in a ‘U’ pattern, placing yourself around 25 yards away from the bottom of your decoy pattern with the wind coming from behind you so that you can have a direct view of the flight line in coming towards you.

Obviously, you won’t find a good result if you setup decoys and stand in the open; the woodpigeon will see you and avoid your location, thus placing it out of your range and foiling your plans. You can disguise yourself in the edge of the wood line, between a network of hay bales or creatively setup your camoflauge shooting hide with camo gear and foliage to become one with your environment.  If the woodpigeon is not coming in how you anticipated, reorganise your decoys, chances are it’s the pattern that’s off and not the decoy themselves.

Setting up a Pigeon Magnet

As above, you want the magnet to be set up where pigeon are feeding within 25 yrds of your hide. The advantage is that the magnet will draw pigeon from further away so you can be more choosy over your perfect hide position and then set the magnet from there rather than the other way round.


There is no pint in attempting to shoot pigeon unless you are properly dressed. They have fantastic eyesight and spot movement at huge distances. Thus camouflage kit is a must.  Don’t forget your face cover……you can have the magnet or decoys working well, have got the perfect hide but the flash of a face will have the pigeon scattering faster than anything.

Shooting the Pigeon

If you are just starting out in the art, invest in a decent gun. Either a 12 or 20-bore double barrelled shotgun will do the trick. We would suggest the 20 is the one to use as it is lighter with a lighter load which will make for a less tiring day if you are really into a zone.

As regards load, we would suggest an ounce load of six shot is plenty. Some will want to go for a heavier load which is fine but your body and shoulder in particular will soon be letting you know if you have a full day with too heavy a shell. If you are in the right spot you could easily fire 300-400 shots so plan accordingly. 

Remain calm and hidden when you notice your target coming in and leave it as late as possible before mounting the gun. Any movement will scare the pigeon away so stay stock still and move the eyes and nothing else until the moment is right. Keep it smooth and stay calm, at the end of the day practice make perfect, no one gets it right first time.

Know your bird and be sure of the bird you shoot

Know your bird you say? Yes! This is a very important factor in woodpigeon shooting as you may attract birds which are protected, and if you haven’t already guessed, shooting them is an offence.

Follow the advice on the various birds below and you should get on just fine and be shooting only legal birds.

Woodpigeon - Source Image by Wardrin, via Wikimedia Commons


Feral Pigeon - Source Image by claudiogennari, via Wikimedia Commons

Feral pigeon

Collared Dove - Source Image via wikimedia commons

Collared Dove


  • Grows up to 43 cm

  • Usually 300–615 g

  • Distinguishing factor is the white on its neck and wing


  • Grows up to 33cm

  • Weighs between 280-560 g

  • Similar to Stock Dove pigeon but more variable in colour


  • Up to 32 cm

  • Weighs up to 240 g

  • Pale, pinky-brown grey colour


Stock Dove - Source Image by Mike Pennington, Via Wikimedia Commons

Stock Dove

Rock Dove - Source Image By Docweird, via Wikimedia Commons

Rock Dove

Turtle Dove - Source Image By Ulrich Prokop, via wikicommons

Turtle Dove


  • Up to 33cm long

  • Up to 300 g

  • Pale grey with patches of green on its neck and wing bars with no white patches


  • Up to 37cm

  • Weights between 230-380 g

  • Similar to stock dove with black bars on their wings


  • Up to 29cm

  • Weighs between 85-170g

  • Brown in colour with black and white stripe on its neck

Related Articles

There are several other important factors that can be considered, and this article could easily become the length of a novel, however we have kept to the basics in order to keep this short and simple.  We will post related articles as time allows so keep your eyes on this article and our guides section for more related articles to come, we will continue to add links below:

If you have tips you feel you could share, get in touch with or joining us on Facebook and Twitter.  We would be happy to post your advice right here on ArdMoor.

Last Modified On: Posted in Shooting and Guides

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