Pellet power & performance – hunting feral pigeons in the farmyard
You don’t have to be a game chef like MarkGilchrist to appreciate that no-one wantspigeon poo in their sandwiches. But when theskies start to darken thanks to bird numbersaround wheat storage barns it’s time to sendsome of them to the big grain store in thesky. So you have got a few pigeons here. Got a lot of pigeons, a lot of ferals nowbuilt up over a long time now. What sort of problems do they cause you?We are in various schemes that we are notreally allowed to have any sort of pigeonsaround the grain stores, food stores. Youjust don’t want birds messing in the stores. So hopefully we will be able to sort themout today. That is what I am hoping. You have very kindly let me shoot a few pigeonshere, so the least we can do is try and dosome feral pigeons. That would be good. You kindly put some wheat out for us, in strategicspots. There must be about £500, £600 worth ofwheat on the floor there, the way the priceis at the moment. If only. We will be gathering it all up afterwards. When Roy has finished he will individuallypick up each grain and put it back into thestore for you. I will be checking . Mark is joined by Roy Lupton with his AirArms air rifle. To avoid damaging the roofswe need some subtle, more refined shooting. Giving them both barrels will win no friendshere. With a little of farmer Mark’s precious wheaton the ground we’re hoping to get the birdsdropping in – but first we’re going to havea quick whizz around the yard. Roy takes a few birds but the guys think thatthe best bet is a two-pronged approach. Roypicking the birds off with the air rifle – Markkeeping them moving with the Maxus on theneighbouring field. What is the game? What are we going to playat today?We are going to have to get you to shoot themoff the roof and I will go down to the bottomthere with a shotgun, because every time thatbunch comes up. If they come out and I canget 3 or 4 out of the bunch and they go backin, we are very quickly going to rack up somenumbers. I think if we can just pick them off whenthey are 25, 30 yards with the air rifle andyou keep them moving, hopefully we will geta better chance. Well we will go and give that a go. I willgo and stand behind that hedge. I don’tneed to build a very good hide as they areonly ferals afterall. OK mate. With Mark installed – Roy starts working theyard. The birds are already a bit skittishand half of them have got the flock out ofhere. But there’s plenty to keep us busy. Roy isof course happiest taking shots with a backstop. Although the yard is empty we only reserveskylined shots when the field is the onlyplace the pellet can fall. Now, not every shot finds it’s mark – andthere are some lucky birds out there. . . Like a scene from the matrix it’s a perfectlytimed getaway, . . . this second bird gets aglancing blow to it leg. . . then there’s thiswood pigeon feeding on the ground. Now with the wood pigeons, they are a muchtougher creature to kill with the air rifle,so you want to get a nice head shot if youcan. If he doesn’t hold his head still,I am going to try and go through and hit thespine. So these are much tougher creaturesthan the ferals. He doesn’t really wantto hold his head still. Oh I should have shotthe one at the back then, he held his headstill for me. Right there we go, hang on. What on earth happened there. So I have just done the replay on that pigeonthat was sitting there in front of the coilof yellow hose there. Took the shot and youcan see that the cross hairs were perfectlyon so should have been absolutely spot onshot for just taking the head out or droppingdown into the neck. You can see perfectlythe pellet going off to the left hand sideand there is no wind because we are in a courtyard surrounded by barns so it is not windage. That can be down to the deformity in the pellet. That particular pellet might have had a slightcrease in it or something like that and thatwas enough to just crease the back of hisneck, take a few feathers out of the backof his neck and then away he went. It doeslook good though. Roy has zerod the rifle at 30 yards, so whenwe have a couple of birds around the 50 yardrange we have to start looking at bullet dropmore closely. . . It all depends on the pellet drop here. Sohe is just over 50 yards away. The pellet drops nicely into the chest. There we go. So that was just over 50. As Roy reloads the magazine he finds a damagedpellet. . not spotting one earlier might havebeen the reason for the woodies’ close shave. So you can see on that pellet there, we havegot a big deformity there. I just put it inthe magazine and then noticed the shape itwas. So what I probably did on that wood pigeonis had a pellet in there that was like thatso it is not going to fly true to target. So that is probably what we are getting. Thatis not necessarily the fault of the pelletmanufacturer. That can be just down to thestorage of your pellets. If you have droppedthe tin or dropped pellets on the floor andpick them up and put them back in that iswhat you can get and so you can get deformitiesin there. So it really does pay to be verycareful with your pellets and make sure theydon’t get deformed and knocked about toomuch. Every now and again we hear a boom from theother side of the farm so we know Mark isgetting some sport. The real down side is I can’t really shootup that way and there is quite a lot comingfrom that field over there back over the farm,I can’t shoot into the farm obviously andsome are coming inside that line over thereI just don’t want to shoot over that waybecause it is not long until you get to theroad and all the buildings and workers thatway. So I have only had stuff out in thatangle. I think they will come back, I can’tbelieve they they will stay away for ever. Back to the air rifle and Roy gets anothercouple of good shots off. This one is an excellenthead shot. It’s so important to practice sothat you’re confident of finding a very smalltarget. So obviously you can see this pigeon was shotin the back of the head there. So that isthe entry wound there. He was poking his headup above the gulley and when you are shootinganything with the air rifle, obviously youhave got very little room for error. So youeither want to be taking a head shot, a neckshot, or obviously through the vital organs,preferably if you can take the spine out aswell, they drop on the spot, or tend to dropon the spot. So you have only got a very smallmargin for error though. When you think thatthe main part which is going to kill the pigeonis just behind the eye, so you have got avery small target there. Probably about thesize of a 5 pence piece if you are lookingat him side on. So taking away the feathersand everything else it doesn’t give youmuch of a target. So you need to make sureyour air rifle is spot on and you have practicedshooting from lots of different positionsso you are used to shooting from a standingposition, a leaning position and what everelse. So you ensure your pellet ends up towhere you want to hit it. As the afternoon marches on the number ofbirds above us is falling- they know somethingis up and dead birds on the roof don’t help. Things have also dried up for Mark to so timeto call it a day and make further plans totackle the problem here. He was very appreciative we made the effortwhich is about all we can do. Well that is about all you can do. As longas you are trying, it keeps everybody happy. There is a bit of ferret food there as well. There are 3 woodies in there some Mark foodas well. There’s a bag of about 50 birds, Mark scoresabout 15 with Roy taking out the rest – allhelping to keep your cheese and pickle sandwich,pigeon free.