Vital pigeon decoying equipment

Let’s keep it simple

  1. Gun
  2. Decoys
  3. Hide
  4. Seat
  5. Flask

I am going to miss out a few things like dog, car and all things electrical for the moment.

Pigeon shooters seem to be a bit like fishermen, they buy stuff, lots of it. Why? Probably because they spend too much time wishing they were out shooting when they are not out shooting and the best cure for that is buying stuff for the next time they are out shooting.

Problem is that it weighs a ton.

If you can drive to your shoot location then packing all your toys isn’t a problem but very often pigeon shooting starts with a walk, sometimes a long walk and so the amount of gear you take matters. So let’s see what we really need to take.

Your gun is essential so get a decent slip that protects it and has a comfy shoulder strap. Any 12 bore that you can shoot well with will do for pigeons. A 20 bore firing 20 gram or above loads of size 6 shot will also do the job. Semi- autos are OK for experienced shooters but can be a liability for inexperienced shooters. Big capacity semi autos are a pain in the bum and no use to anyone

Pigeons will fall to any well placed shot at ranges up to 40 yards. Shot size 7 1/2 up to 6’s in loads from 24 gram up to 32g are fine. Steel shot will kill cleanly at ranges up to 35-40 yards and some game buyers will pay a small premium for birds free of lead, so will some falconery centers.

The best way to lower the cost of your pigeon shooting is to take a few lessons and improve your shots to kill ratio. Buying expensive “pigeon” loads or “VIP” or “Gold” won’t improve your shooting accuracy. If you missed it is because you shot the wrong piece of sky. Don’t take your most expensive gun pigeon shooting or it could be the most expensive days shooting you ever had.

Take enough cartridges with you in THE CAR but not to your hide. A slab of 250 is essential about once a year so a cartridge bag with 100 max is enough. If the action is fast and furious you can always head for the stash in the motor and combine the trip with a tea break and a comfort stop. 100 1 1/8oz cartrides weighs about 10lbs and your gun will weigh about another 7 or 8 lbs, you don’t need to add 15lbs of unused cartridges.


You can carry a lot of extra shell decoys for the weight of too many cartridges.


Decoys – The more the better! Shell decoys are great for virtually every occassion. 20 shell decoys, with the plastic wobbly pegs weigh about 5lbs, about the same as a box of 25 cartridges. By leaving behind the 4 boxes of cartridges suggest previously you can carry an extra 80 shell deeks!


How many times have I seen shooters lug a slab of shell across the field then pull out a dozen decoys that just don’t pull in the birds. I actually prefer the spring steel pegs to the plastic pegs which makes them a bit heavier but you may not agree.

flocked verses unflocked pigeon decoys

Pigeon decoys come painted and flock coated. (painted on the left, flocked on the right) Some believe that flocking reduces reflection and is more realistic but is more prone to damage.


Flocked decoys may be less shiney but if you get a cheap offer on painted deeks add them to the pile anyway. Full body decoys are a bit of pain but worth the extra hastle if, and only if, you are going to loft them in a tree, if not don’t bother. Add a few crows or magpies.



Your basic hide is a few poles with a bit of netting. Trouble is it falls over, gets blown over or isn’t really big enough. Use the lightest telescopic poles you can find and buy a few cheap plastic tent pegs and some guy ropes, honestly they will make a sturdy hide from a few flimsy poles. If sailing ships, cranes and ultra light aircraft use guy wires then they are probably the dogs danglies. 4 ounces of guy ropes will do better than 20lbs of steel poles. Your cammo netting is really only to break up your outline because you are wearing green or cammo clothes aren’t you?

Make your hide taller rather than wider. Nothing will ruin your shooting more than sitting on a foot stool and crouching down not to be seen. How high should it be? Well stand up or sit on a nice high shooting stick then work out how high your net needs to be to cover you up to the level of your shoulders. Add a bit for luck. There you have the perfect height. Add a few sticks or branches from your location, they should be a perfect match with your location too ( and you didn’t have to carry them either )

Seat is simple, get a shooting stick off fleabay for a tenner. Made for the job, hence the name. A shooting stick isn’t so much of a seat as a prop that you lean against until you mount your gun and lean forward off the stick to fire. If you really expect to be sitting around for hours between shots you should move or go home! If you take a chair then go for a tall three legged stool as they won’t wobble and are lighter.

Flask is an essential item summer or winter. Fill with your favourite brew. No alcohol ever. Enough said.

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