I recently found out that two carved wooden decoys, made by A. Elmer Crowell, one of a Pintail and one of a Canada goose sold in the USA for $1.13 million each!  I’m guessing that they aren’t being used in the field and I’ll be keeping my eye out for wooden decoys in the future!

My last blog was a summary of a day’s pigeon shooting that could’ve gone better, on the way home I did wonder about the pattern I had set up and could I or would I change it next time out to see if things improved. I’m going out again to do some filming later in the week and have decided not to change anything. After all, the location, weather and time will all be different, and I know that what I’ve set out before has worked. There is still that nagging doubt though, could I do something different to make it work better?

Less decoys, more decoys, use dead birds, flapper and magnet or just a flapper perhaps?!  Don’t panic, I have an answer… sort of.  The idea of decoying is to attract birds that perhaps would not otherwise be interested (like teenagers and homework).

So, everything doesn’t have to be perfect, including, I would argue, the decoy pattern. The Pigeons on your permission come mostly from the same roosts every day to feed, they get educated if you’re in the area every day shooting at them.  Effectively if they see your magnet it has now turned into a warning sign.

The decoy pattern is no different and will become less effective over time, since folk are shooting throughout the year the education cycle is not broken. I’m not saying that this is the same for every area, some are lucky enough to have miles of shooting rights where they can ring the changes. You might have to skip shooting for a week or 10 days at a time to improve productivity.

My theory is that you should use one type of decoy; all shells mounted on Maximovers or all Sillosocks, add shot birds to the pattern using cradles if you have them.  Use a Sillosocks Motorised Pigeon, MK5 Pigeon Flapper or a Sillosocks Pigeon Hypa-Flap on a bouncer pole before deploying the rotary machine.

The shape of the pattern should be a hockey stick shape with the handle pointing into the wind, plenty of space between decoys to encourage birds to commit to land and decoys also facing the wind. Now leave the gun in its slip and watch carefully what happens for 10 – 20 minutes (at this point your hide needs to be top notch).

Count the number of positive/negative reactions to the pattern, is the direction of approach the same? Are they fully committed? Interpreting the balance of reactions is the key. If you’re going to change anything do it in small stages otherwise, you’ll miss the point at which the pattern starts to work or gets worse.

If all else fails, buy decoys from A. Elmer Crowell.

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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