More Goats than Pigeons

It’s not very often that the planets align and I get an offer to go pigeon shooting combined with the boss being in a generous mood and letting me out of the office.  In addition, my host for the day was a well-known, seasoned Pigeon Professional with a wonderful location to shoot at.

You can imagine me, full of confidence, car loaded with all the gear heading off to deepest Worcestershire for a day to, hopefully, be remembered for the rest of my life. I also had to do some filming and take some stills to enhance the content of our website but I had planned that I would take care of that early in the day.

I arranged to meet my host at 10am, I arrived early and sat enjoying the sun outside a little chapel, pigeons continuously passed over head, I could also hear a combine in the distance (farm machinery recognition is a speciality).

20 minutes after our scheduled rendezvous time had elapsed I received a call, he would be late, the game dealer was due to pick up and he also was late.  No worries, the pigeons were massing overhead and I had already been told, it would be later afternoon before they tucked into either the wheat, beans or rape stubbles which made up 600 acres of the farm.

When my host arrived, we drove a short distance to the farm, passing an attractive lady walking a herd of goats with high-viz vests on; reminding myself I was in Worcestershire, I dismissed the many questions I had flashing through my mind.

We met the farmer and after lengthy introductions and inevitable chats about the weather, crop yields and machinery (this will be important later), we moved off for some reconnaissance work around the many acres. I was taken with about 10 spots in the first 200 yards, my host didn’t seem to think so and kept scanning the many fields we passed. We parked up several times and waited. We chatted about what he was looking for and why, the farm produced lots of big bags but had only been shot 3 times this year and he was confident that the pigeons would settle in a particular area soon enough. They didn’t.

In the end after waiting and reconnoitring for an age, we tossed an imaginary coin and decided on a spot.  Within 20 minutes the hide was up, the Sillosocks decoys out and an Optima Rotary (fitted with two Sillosocks Hypa-Flap Pigeon decoys) was working like a dream. We sat underneath a busy flight line and I marvelled at the amount of birds in this part of the world. My host regaled me with stories of yesteryear and lots of tips and tricks he himself had picked up over 70 years of shooting. It was wonderful to listen to, but I was increasingly alarmed at the lack of interest displayed by anything, other than a Roe Doe, to our chosen spot.

I decided to take this quiet period as an opportunity to take some photos and video.  I needn’t have rushed. Still an impressive flight line, no takers. After a while we noticed the combine has moved into an adjoining field, accompanied by a convoy (collective noun required) of tractors with trailers who parked along the track we too were parked on.

Suddenly, a dust cloud blew across our spot, I couldn’t see a thing. So dry were the fields that the combine, a ‘Claas Tucano’ I think, created a maelstrom which made seeing, let alone shooting impossible. We could move quite easily suggested my host and he went to get the car. A minute later he returned with the news I’d anticipated – we’re blocked in.

So we had to shoot to the rhythm of the combine, he passed, we stopped, he went we scanned for interested birds.  Ranges were short, dust and bits saw to that, after a couple of hours I ended up with a reasonable 12. Yes, reasonable in the conditions.

When we eventually escaped from the convoy, we went to see where else the birds were, it appeared that they had not read the script and despite an extensive search found only a handful on the deck.

I would never count a day in the field as wasted, even this one.  My host was entertaining and interesting with loads of pigeon know-how, through no fault of his own the pigeons were staying high and passing through to some other more attractive location.

I left for home with the offer of as many repeat visits as I liked – from the lady with the Goats.

Chris Phillips

Chris, an experienced shooter, has an eye for the amusing details of the life outdoors and freely admits he still has plenty to learn (but also plenty to offer). Chris is a staff member.

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