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Pigeon Shooting - Red Letter Days (Part 2) - Bob Laidlaw


Red Letter Days (Part 2)

If he could decoy pigeons 24/7 he would, taking just the odd day out to go fishing.

Red Letter Days (Part 2)

One of my regular pigeon shooters is Iain Fawcett from Hertfordshire. Iain and wife Lorraine come to Norfolk every year often twice during the summer and again at Christmas. Lorraine comes here to relax far away from home, work and all the stress that goes with it. Iain comes here for a completely different reason – pigeon shooting, pure and simple.
If he could decoy pigeons 24/7 he would, taking just the odd day out to go fishing.
During his trip to Norfolk in August we were finding the decoying hard work. The use of the rotary was scaring the birds more than it was attracting them. We find that this is not uncommon particularly at the end of harvest time when the birds have almost certainly been shot at a number of times. If they’ve seen the spinning motion of the rotary before, followed by a loud bang and 30g of No. 6 shot whistling past their backside, it’s small wonder that they see it as a danger sign.
As Iain’s week ebbed away without the customary big bags that he’s come to expect, I could feel the pressure building within me. Don’t get me wrong, Iain has been shooting long enough to know that the woodie is a truly wild creature and totally unpredictable. He would never put pressure on me and is far more likely to say “Don’t worry, I had a great time” even if the bag was only 6 birds (which it was on his 3rd day).
His trips to Norfolk cost him and Lorraine a packet and I know how much this man looks forward to his pigeon shooting so I am bound to feel some pressure.
The penultimate day produces a bag of 22 birds and I have a plan.  Instead of our evening trip to the game dealer to get the birds out of the August heat and into the fridge ready for the food chain, we’ll put them in a sack and use them as decoys in cradles in a wheat stubble which has yet to be shot.
I know there’s good numbers of woodies feeding in the stubble but going by our experiences of this week, there’s a good chance that they’ll be shy of the decoys and flare away if we use any mechanical devices. We’ll try the gentle approach and see if we can fool the birds on what was Iain’s last day.
When we arrived at the wheat stubble field we were pleased to see good pigeon movement and a strong flight line heading past the very point that I had intended to put the hide and decoys. Things are looking good!
The 22 dead birds from the previous days efforts were put into a fairly random horse shoe shape pattern with a general head into wind direction, but nothing too regimental, this has to look real and pigeons don’t feed in a regimental fashion, it’s always random.
The metal cradles lifted the birds high enough in the stubble to be very visible, but not too high - It’s got to look real.
I’ve got to say that I think I do great decoy patterns but this looked fantastic even by my standards. If I was a pigeon I’d believe it!
OK, the proof of the pudding as they say…. As I left the field I heard the crack of Iain’s gun and the first bird was in the bag. I was feeling confident but the ego has taken a bashing this week so we’ll call him in one hour for a progress check. I know this bloke will always shoot a good bag if we can get the birds to decoy, he always has a good average and often shoots better than one bird for two shots.
One hour later I cross my fingers and make the phone call. “Yep, all good. I’ve shot 18 birds so far” Phew, thank the Lord.
Every time I phone him the tally is rising and the decoys are fooling the birds big time. Everything is diving straight into the decoys. Like a true pro, Iain picks up his dead birds every 10-15 minutes. It’s a hot day and the flies will be on the birds in no time flat. The other reason is, we have a great decoy pattern and it’s working just fine so let’s not clutter it with more birds and risk spoiling things. Like the old saying goes, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.
At the close of play we pick up 97 dead birds. On a day like this you’ll never find every shot bird so although we didn’t quite pick 100, I’m very happy that the tonne was passed.
Congratulations Iain, a real Red Letter Day.


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