At the start of April 2022, Hayley from The Country Girls UK came pigeon shooting with my Dad & me. On this day myself and Hayley didn’t set up for the day as we couldn’t make it in the morning. Dad set up on the main flight line – on this farm this is like a highway for birds for example they will follow markers like a woodland or a series of telegraph poles so they know where they are going to the fields or where they know there is feed. It is important to be near a flight line as with the decoys it is easy to pull them into your pattern (a decoy is a fake plastic pigeon) you put decoys in a pattern and this will pull the wild birds in as they think that is where all the friends are feeding. It is also beneficial to the shooter/shooters if they can use real birds instead of decoys too, this is because of the UV light that the decoys have on their back, this makes them believe that they are real and that it is safe for them to come and feed there. 

Why do we do this? 

We shoot pigeons for two reasons, the main one being to protect the farmer’s crops. For example, a farmer will drill their crops (winter or spring) and the pigeons in the area will come to the freshly drilled fields and peck all of the seeds out of the ground and this means that all of the seeds sown will not grow. This will impact a farmer’s income dramatically as they have already paid for the seeds that the pigeons then eat. Secondly, not all of the seeds will grow, affecting the yield of the field – the farmer won’t have as much grain so they won’t get the money they could have as they won’t have as many tonnes as they should (farmer gets paid for the tonnage). 

Secondly, we eat the pigeons and they are also on the menu in the pub straight from the field to your plate (field-to-fork). We make things such as pigeon and bacon salad for starter, pigeon stroganoff and pigeon stir fry. Any pigeons that are not used in the restaurant go to my brother for his reptiles and he feeds them things like rabbit, pigeon, partridge and pheasant (when they are in season) so none of the birds that we kill for vermin control get wasted!

How do we retrieve the birds? 

As a family, we have 7 dogs – 5 Labradors and 2 cocker spaniels. We usually take two Labradors out pigeon shooting at a time as the labs are trained for pigeon shooting. When you are in a hide, they can’t just run out, they have to go round the outside and they also need to know the difference between decoys and real decoys so they don’t pick those up. A lot of training goes into this so they pick the warm fresh pigeons up, following the gunpowder scent to the right bird.

What is a hide? 

A hide is what you make in the morning when setting up for the day it is nets and hide poles that are put together around the hedge so that you can sit in there but the birds can’t see it as it is camouflage. As simple as it sounds, if the birds can see you they won’t come close enough for you to shoot them, so we ensure we are camouflaged in the hide.

If anyone has any questions or would like to know more let me know. You can contact me on Instagram or Facebook where I share my journey.

Written by Olivia Stevens