There are so many things to think about when it comes to flighting wild birds like woodpigeon – wind direction, set up and time of day are just a few.
As peas and oilseed rape are a favourite food source for pigeon, flighting pigeon over either the growing crop or off the resulting stubble are perfect settings for a steady but exciting stream of birds if you get things right. Crop protection is crucial during the growing period so make sure you liase with and get permission from the farmer who will help advise where best to go.
If you have any pigeon flighting coming up, browse some of our tips to ensure you have a successful day for both you and the land owner.
Leave an interval between outings
If you shoot regularly you’ll end up over-shooting the ground, making the pigeon difficult to decoy and creating a near impossible environment for you to successfully shoot in. Thus, liase with the farmer to find out if anyone else has been shooting recently and, if so, on which piece of ground and from where to help you work out where best to go.
Before you decide where to set up, it is worth spending some time working out where the pigeon are feeding and where they are flighting in from. This will tend to be dictated by the wind on the day and the time of day but take a pair of binoculars so you can study what is going on from a distance to avoid disturbing things unnecessarily.
Having worked out where the birds are flighting from and to, see whether there is any good cover either under the flight path or near where they are landing. The aim of the game is obviously to get as much natural cover as you can either from a hedge, edge of a wood or a strip of game cover for example. This can then be augmented if need be using some camouflage netting to add to your concealment.
Again, study the birds that are landing before you set things up. Which way are the landing and which way are they tending to feed and try to then mirror what they are up to with your decoys. Using a pigeon magnet or carousel helps to get things going as these most definitely help to draw the birds to where you want them. You can then supplement your decoys with the birds you have shot to increase the number of birds “eating” – either use a pigeon cradle or simply use a forked stick under the head to help sit the pigeon up.
Depending on the time of year, your clothing requirements will change however, there is little point in going to all the effort of setting out decoys etc if you are then going to stand out and shy the birds away. Therefore make sure you have some suitable camouflaged clothing to include a hat and facecover. Again there is little point in camouflaging your body and then leaving a great white face and (depending on your age!) a shock of white hair to scare the birds away.
Lastly, you may want to maximise your day by being in situ for a long period of time. The weather can change whilst you are there so go prepared with some layers, some waterproofs and some gloves etc. Nothing will bring your flight to a premature end faster than cold feet or hands, a sore back or hunger. We would always recommend taking a seat or shooting stick together with a thermos of something warm or cold depending on the season and some nibbles to keep hunger at bay.
For more tips, visit our dedicated shooting blog.