Crow pest control

Crows thrive around farms and farm buildings as well as in their traditional roost woods. If you are going to keep numbers down to a level the farmer can live with you will need to shoot them in the woods and the farm yard.

Crows are very smart birds, no really smart! You need good field craft to shoot them in the trees where they have to advantage of height to see anything within shooting range. Young birds newly fledged may be shootable for a few weeks after leaving their nests but the get wise very quickly.

Decoying can work well but you need to ring the changes in your set up as they soon realise where the threat is coming from. Shoot different locations each time, mix up your decoys methods too. Flocked crow decoys on hedges, on feed clamps or out in the stublle work well. Crows usually come to decoys because they know they are not their regular crow friends, they come to drive them out. Some shooters have great success putting out broken nests with a couple of real eggs in. Try a small stuffed fox cub too, crows hate them and soon dive in on them.

Remeber not to send you dog for wounded crows, they are very likely to injure you dog too. If in doubt give a crow a second barrel on the way down to make sure it is humanely dispatched.

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Rabbit shooting and land management

Pest control can be a time consuming business and harvest time is when the farmer has least time to spare. As crops come of the fields pest such as rabbits and foxes get concentrated into the last of the standing crop and it is an ideal time to reduce their numbers. Obvioulsy the farmer and his various skilled drivers are too busy to dispatch rabbits and foxes so this leaves a need for pest controllers to team up and follow the harvester.

Experienced guns can cover long sides of the crop and be trusted to shoot in close proximity to the moving machinery without compromising safety. This is not a job for enthusiastic amateurs! You have to know where your other guns are and to all stay on station. Know your ranges and don’t use any very heavy loads or steel shot because they can carry too far or richochet of stones in the ground. Stick with a good solid game load like 28/32g No 5. No slugs, no buck shot or SG.

It is a long hard day but worthwhile especially if the farmer sees plenty of pests gone!

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Team Wild TV visits Leicestershire

Pigeon Shooting Leicestershire features on the latest Team Wild TV episode

Pigeon shooting can be an expensive way to control pigeon numbers so professional guides, that can make it pay as a service, are an essential part of the rural ecomomy. Quality videos are an instructive and responsible way to promote pigeon shooting to a wider audience. Paying guest shooters get the opportunity to shoot and subsidise the cost of pest control for the farmer.

Modern farming provide winter feed to pigeons which has the unfortunate side effect of boosting pigeon numbers that then need controlling to some extent. Pigeon cannot be endlessly scared off by flags, bangers and dummy birds of prey, eventually they will be just very hungry and more determined than ever to visit food crops. The only real way to control pigeon damage is to keep the number of pigeon down and that means culling some wild pigeon.

Decent bag for rather a lot of shots but maybe the video camera put them off a bit....

Decent bag for rather a lot of shots but maybe the video camera put them off a bit….

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The Pigeon Problem

If you haven’t seen flocking pigeons you might well think that shooters are looking for an excuse to shoot wood pigeon without reasonable justification. This short video shows a modest size flock of pigeon that had been observed feeding off the same rape field for several days. Each bird will fill it’s crop at least twice a day with the very growing tips that contain the important flower generating buds that make rape productive.

It can clearly be seen that these pigeon have become immune to the bird scaring tactics of the farmer and are continuing to damage his crops just as spring arrives with the burst of growth needed to produce a full harvest.

 

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Setting out your decoys – What is best?

If there was a single answer to this question it would be – What ever gets you results!

Seriously, there isn’t a magic answer to setting out decoys that always gets results but there are a few very fundamental things to consider.

Decoys will only draw pigeons in when they are already in the area. I know it sounds daft but some folks seem to think they can draw pigeon into an area because that is where they have permission to shoot. Wrong. Pigeons go where pigeons want to go not where you are allowed to shoot. It is against the General Licence to create a need to shoot pigeons because you have drawn them in to an area. The General Licence is an exclusion to the general ban on shooting birds and mammals based on the need to shoot pigeons as a last resort. Drawing pigeons into a shootable position in an adjacent field to where they are doing damage but where there isn’t a safe direction to shoot them would be fine.

So decoys should be set out where pigeons are already evident so you can get them into range or close enough to their flight line to get them to deviate and come to you for a look. If pigeon are hitting a part of a large field go to where they are if possible. They are choosing that part of the field for a reason they understand even if you don’t.

A large number of shell decoys on the ground will look like a huddle of happy pigeon so probably forget about rotaries and fancy bouncers. A dozen decoys isn’t a flock. Fifty decoys less than 1.5m apart looks more like it and weighs less than a pigeon magnet and a thumping big battery.

Clusters of pigeon within a large flock. typical group seems to be about 20-30 birds

Clusters of pigeon within a large flock. typical group seems to be about 20-30 birds
Click to enlarge

If you have to grab the attention of a passing pigeon then movement and flying decoys may well be needed but put them where they can be seen from a way off. Watch they aren’t blotted out by a high hedge or trees and that they contrast with their back ground. A few extra decoys on the top of a hedge or a small tree may attract pigeon that aren’t intested in ground feeding but are ready to lay up for a few hours.

Almost all pigeon on the ground face into the breeze otherwise they get cold and ruffled by the wind. Do the same with your decoys with just a few at odd angles. Most guides say to make a horseshoe shape so bird drop into the middle of the pattern but I’m not 100% sure about that, I haven’t seen pigeons in a horsehoes pattern ever.

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