Pellet power & performance – hunting feral pigeons in the farmyard

You don’t have to be a game chef like Mark
Gilchrist to appreciate that no-one wantspigeon poo in their sandwiches. But when the
skies start to darken thanks to bird numbersaround wheat storage barns it’s time to send
some 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 now
built up over a long time now. What sort of problems do they cause you?We are in various schemes that we are not
really allowed to have any sort of pigeonsaround the grain stores, food stores. You
just don’t want birds messing in the stores. So hopefully we will be able to sort them
out today. That is what I am hoping. You have very kindly let me shoot a few pigeons
here, 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 strategic
spots. There must be about £500, £600 worth of
wheat 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 individually
pick up each grain and put it back into thestore for you. I will be checking . Mark is joined by Roy Lupton with his Air
Arms 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 wheat
on the ground we’re hoping to get the birdsdropping in – but first we’re going to have
a quick whizz around the yard. Roy takes a few birds but the guys think that
the best bet is a two-pronged approach. Roypicking the birds off with the air rifle – Mark
keeping them moving with the Maxus on theneighbouring field. What is the game? What are we going to play
at today?We are going to have to get you to shoot them
off the roof and I will go down to the bottomthere with a shotgun, because every time that
bunch comes up. If they come out and I canget 3 or 4 out of the bunch and they go back
in, we are very quickly going to rack up somenumbers. I think if we can just pick them off when
they are 25, 30 yards with the air rifle andyou keep them moving, hopefully we will get
a better chance. Well we will go and give that a go. I will
go and stand behind that hedge. I don’tneed to build a very good hide as they are
only ferals afterall. OK mate. With Mark installed – Roy starts working the
yard. The birds are already a bit skittishand half of them have got the flock out of
here. But there’s plenty to keep us busy. Roy is
of course happiest taking shots with a backstop. Although the yard is empty we only reserve
skylined shots when the field is the onlyplace the pellet can fall. Now, not every shot finds it’s mark – and
there are some lucky birds out there. . . Like a scene from the matrix it’s a perfectly
timed getaway, . . . this second bird gets aglancing blow to it leg. . . then there’s this
wood pigeon feeding on the ground. Now with the wood pigeons, they are a much
tougher creature to kill with the air rifle,so you want to get a nice head shot if you
can. If he doesn’t hold his head still,I am going to try and go through and hit the
spine. So these are much tougher creaturesthan the ferals. He doesn’t really want
to hold his head still. Oh I should have shotthe one at the back then, he held his head
still for me. Right there we go, hang on. What on earth happened there. So I have just done the replay on that pigeon
that was sitting there in front of the coilof yellow hose there. Took the shot and you
can see that the cross hairs were perfectlyon so should have been absolutely spot on
shot for just taking the head out or droppingdown into the neck. You can see perfectly
the pellet going off to the left hand sideand there is no wind because we are in a court
yard 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 that
was enough to just crease the back of hisneck, take a few feathers out of the back
of his neck and then away he went. It doeslook good though. Roy has zerod the rifle at 30 yards, so when
we have a couple of birds around the 50 yardrange we have to start looking at bullet drop
more closely. . . It all depends on the pellet drop here. So
he 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 damaged
pellet. . not spotting one earlier might havebeen the reason for the woodies’ close shave. So you can see on that pellet there, we have
got a big deformity there. I just put it inthe magazine and then noticed the shape it
was. So what I probably did on that wood pigeonis had a pellet in there that was like that
so it is not going to fly true to target. So that is probably what we are getting. That
is not necessarily the fault of the pelletmanufacturer. That can be just down to the
storage of your pellets. If you have droppedthe tin or dropped pellets on the floor and
pick them up and put them back in that iswhat you can get and so you can get deformities
in there. So it really does pay to be verycareful with your pellets and make sure they
don’t get deformed and knocked about toomuch. Every now and again we hear a boom from the
other side of the farm so we know Mark isgetting some sport. The real down side is I can’t really shoot
up 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 there
I just don’t want to shoot over that waybecause it is not long until you get to the
road and all the buildings and workers thatway. So I have only had stuff out in that
angle. I think they will come back, I can’tbelieve they they will stay away for ever. Back to the air rifle and Roy gets another
couple of good shots off. This one is an excellenthead shot. It’s so important to practice so
that you’re confident of finding a very smalltarget. So obviously you can see this pigeon was shot
in the back of the head there. So that isthe entry wound there. He was poking his head
up above the gulley and when you are shootinganything with the air rifle, obviously you
have got very little room for error. So youeither want to be taking a head shot, a neck
shot, or obviously through the vital organs,preferably if you can take the spine out as
well, they drop on the spot, or tend to dropon the spot. So you have only got a very small
margin for error though. When you think thatthe main part which is going to kill the pigeon
is just behind the eye, so you have got avery small target there. Probably about the
size of a 5 pence piece if you are lookingat him side on. So taking away the feathers
and everything else it doesn’t give youmuch of a target. So you need to make sure
your air rifle is spot on and you have practicedshooting from lots of different positions
so you are used to shooting from a standingposition, a leaning position and what everelse. So you ensure your pellet ends up to
where you want to hit it. As the afternoon marches on the number of
birds 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 to
tackle the problem here. He was very appreciative we made the effort
which is about all we can do. Well that is about all you can do. As long
as 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 food
as well. There’s a bag of about 50 birds, Mark scores
about 15 with Roy taking out the rest – allhelping to keep your cheese and pickle sandwich,
pigeon free.

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