On this occasion, we had been watching the birds the previous day, with good numbers coming to a newly drilled field of peas. Due to the ground, some of the drilling hadn’t been all that successful, and as a result the pigeons had zoned in on the easy meal. This was not just shooting for sport – we had a job to do to help the farmer protect his crop. You can be sure of one thing. Once pigeons find an easy food source, they will keep coming until there is nothing left. We aimed to make sure that didn’t happen.
Arriving at 9am, it took us quite a while to establish the flight line, but it was important to get it right. Eventually, come noon we had it sussed. Keeping it simple, we set up a basic net hide with four poles against a treeline. Those of you who have seen The Shooting Show will know, I like to keep things as natural as possible, and I don’t think you can beat dead pigeons as decoys. Setting them up on small canes angled into the light, chalky ground, they stood out brilliantly. I had no doubt that any passing birds would have no trouble seeing the pattern.
There are a number of things pigeons are on the lookout for as they scout the land for their companions. Primarily, apart from movement, the distinctive white bands of the wings are a key target. A decoy without this positive ID will struggle to pull birds down, if indeed it doesn’t put them off. So important is this detail that brightening up any dulled flights should be checked regularly. Sometimes, just a quick wash is all that’s needed, but the time invested will pay dividends. The overall body colour is also worth mulling over, especially with the advent of newer, fancier decoys produced from varying materials. Many look great in the hand, dry from the box, but some turn far darker than is ideal with just a touch of drizzle.