Busy March for farmers and shooters

The weather is finally drying up and the farmers are drilling left right and centre.

Pigeon see those beautifully drilled flat fields as dining tables, knowing there are rich pickings, row upon row of seeds to picked. With every seed picked farmers loose a whole plant which would yield hundreds of grains of wheat. A single pigeon crop will yield a hundred grains of seed wheat twice a day representing thousands of grains of lost harvesable wheat. Now imagine what a mass flock of the millions of wood pigeons that thrive in England will do if left unmolested.

Sunday 23 March another happy French customer 49 shooting over wheat drillings

Sunday 23 March another happy French customer 49 shooting over wheat drillings

 

Monday 24 march 73 for 210 shots 2 English lads Aaron and Jordan shooting over spring barley drillings whilst the farmer was still drilling

Monday 24 arch 73 for 210 shots 2 English lads Aaron and Jordan shooting over spring barley drillings whilst the farmer was still drilling

 

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Friday 29 March 62 for a French customer first time ever pigeon decoying he was well chuffed

Sunday 30 March 248 mixed bag French customers that came last year 550 shots

Sunday 30 March 248 mixed bag French customers that came last year 550 shots

I’m not sure of the translation of “well chuffed” into Frech but I think the smile on his face says it all.

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French shoot better than they play rugby…

Well even the French defeat at home to Ireland in the Six Nations didn’t put our French shooting visitors off their sport. 192 pigeon and a handful of corvid shot yesterday for a serious amount of shots taken. A total 346 in 3 days shooting over rape.

A solid 3 days for our latest French visitors.

A solid 3 days for our latest French visitors.

The energy concentrated in growing rape attract pigeon in spring time and flocks need breaking up and rousting about so that they don’t just settle on a easy spot and destroy a single field.

Scaring birds tend to just make a flock hungry and frustrated and even more determined to get down on to what they view as an oasis of green. Absolute numbers need to be kept down to reduce crop damage. Moving flocks from field to field isn’t going to reduce overall crop yield reductions. It really is them or us.

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French shooting success in tough February conditions

The weather this February has been dreadful, it has also been very unpredictable. Wind and rain, rain and wind or just an awful lot of both! With widspread flooding in some counties the pigeons are concentrating on crops that are holding their heads above water.

Our French shooting parties are had to learn to shoot turbo charged pigeons this month!

With gale force winds the pigeons have been screaming over the guns rather than coming into the decoys but our visitors have shown themselves to be up to the task.

French visitors tackle turbo charged pigeons

French visitors tackle turbo charged pigeons

133 pigeons and 2 crows for a serious amount of shots but considering the conditions, great shooting.

 

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The first of the rape stubble rewards the French

Another party of French shooters bagged the first of the rape stubble bandits.

Stubble fields draw in pigeon for easy pickings amongst the discarded chaff and ejected seeds from weed species that the combines throw out. The newly exposed soil surface also catch insects unaware that have been sheltered by the tall crops but are now tasty morsels for omnivourous pigeon and crows.

French shooters pay thier respect to their quarry after a good day on the rape stubble

French shooters pay thier respect to their quarry after a good day on the rape stubble

It is a strong continental hunting tradition to lay out the days harvest and pay due respect even though pigeon are shot as a pest in the UK. It is a job that has to be done but it is also right to do it humanely and efficiently.

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French shooters visit in August with great success.

Early August and the weather is sunny and warm ( even tropical) one minutes but with heavy showers welling up every few days. The wheat, barley and oat crops are looking very good, especially considering the early spring weather, but the rape is a sorry sight on a lot of farms here in Leicestershire. As yet, very few farmers have combined anything so there are few patches of stubble to shoot over.

Pigeons don’t wait for the wheat to fully ripen or for the farmers to start harvesting before they get into the crop. Any flattened patches or tyre tracks give them a dining table on which to feed and from any small patch they soon walk down large areas of cereal and strip it clean.

When scouting for another party of French shooters our guide Matt Cole spotted crop damage happening in quite a few areas of the same few fields and set up our visiting shooters to take full advantage. The party consisted of 6 shooters of mixed experience – Jean-Pierre Bonnemaire, Nicolas Bonnemaire, Garcia Laurent, Jean-Paul Garcia, Jean-Christophe Caudit and Mario Short who found success on all three days with 85 birds for 339 shots on day 1, 114 birds for 584 shots on day 2 and 67 birds 296 shots on their last day.

French make their contribution to pigeon control in Leicestershire, UK.

French make their contribution to pigeon control in Leicestershire, UK.

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French pigeon shooters enjoy success in blazing July weather

Last year, 2012, was the wettest July on record in much of the UK, this year it is probably going to be the hottest! Germination of wheat and rape crops were poor due to a cold wet spring with a few fields virtually failing to show a viable crop.

A strange side effect of the low yield of rape plants is a flush of red poppies in fields where farmers are spraying less to lower their input costs making much of England like the fields of northern France which should have made our French visitors feel very at home on their recent trip to Leicestershire.

Organised in conjunction with the French outfit Plaisir-Chasse-Pêche.com our four shooters, and a very supportive spouse, spent 3 days hunting wood pigeon over mixed crops and also put a sizeable dent in the local crow population.

Day 1

 

Visitors from France shooting wood pigeon and crow

Visitors from France shooting wood pigeon and crow

Shooting a total of 426 cartridges our French shooters downed a total of 91 wood pigeon and 28 crows on thier first UK outing. The bag shown is in-complete as the dogs were yet to collect some birds from crops and deep cover but a great bag all the same.

Day 2

59 woodies on the second day

Our guns and thier 59 woodies on the second day

Wood pigeon don’t flock at this time of year so these pigeon were shot as the transitted through the corn fields going to and from clover and other mid summer food sources and thier lay-up areas in the woods you can see in the background. Classic fast shooting!

Day 3

A day for the farmer who wants the crows around his building thinned out a bit.

This is a job that gets you brownie points with the all important farmer, crow bashing.

It is also good for the song bird population which takes a real battering from all corvids at this time of year. Eggs and chicks are a quick morsel for a big crow who will wipe out a nest in one visit. Partridge chicks are very vulnerable at this time of year too so keep at the corvids!

These crows fell to simple decoys on the rotary. Any convincing crow decoy will look like an intruder that needs to be chased away. Crows are very smart and very wary of humans but they seem to throw caution to the wind to chase away strangers so use this tactic to get them closer and distracted so you can hit them hard.

Crows fallen to simple decoy tactics and some good shooting.

Crows fallen to simple decoy tactics and some good shooting.

 

Organisers of shooting trips to the UK for pigeon advise a bag of 20 to 30 birds a day on average so our visitors did well with over 50 pigeon per day plus the corvids.

Looking forward to many more visitors from France!

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