Pigeon shooting

Pigeons are shot as they fly over. They sleep in woods at night and fly to the fields during the day to forage. In some areas they can come in such large numbers that they do damage to fields. Often you sit in a hide and shoot them over decoys. At other times, it pays to watch the pigeons’ flight paths and seat yourself near a hedgerow that they like to fly along. You can also hunt them as they fly back to their roosts in the woods in the late afternoon. If you are fortunate enough to bag one hundred pigeons in a day, it is called a ‘red letter day’. The most common species is the wood pigeon.

Challenges of pigeon shooting
Different countries have different hunting seasons for pigeons, but the best time of year is late summer. It is often hot at this time, and it can be difficult to camouflage yourself properly. You therefore need a thin camouflage pullover and a cap for shade from the sun.

Pigeons notice everything from afar, and it can be difficult to get them to fall for the decoy if you are not well concealed. It can be an advantage to sit with the sun behind you, so the pigeons are dazzled by the sun, but they may then also have difficulty seeing the decoys. You can also hunt pigeons in winter. At this time of year it is the Nordic pigeons that are on the move. You hunt them as they fly into woods, where they often have favourite trees to spend the night in. For this form of hunting it is important to have a loose camouflage jacket, as the shots are often high – almost vertical. It is important that your clothing is not too tight when you shoot in this position.

Hunting stories from a hunter

To think that this wonderful bird can be seen as a pest. It is understandable that farmers can lose patience with the small creatures. Pigeons need to eat every day, and if there are a lot of them, it ends up being a costly affair. But if you ignore all this and simply admire the pigeon as a bird, then only beauty remains. As you watch them potter around on a lawn, they look fat and ungainly. Can such a bird really fly? Yet if you sit in a hide, far away from the troubles of the world, and watch one turn to fly across a freshly harvested field to see what the decoys are doing, it is with an elegance that makes time stand still for a moment. It uses the wind with playful ease. Many hunters have found that the pigeon is not the easiest quarry to hunt. With a lightness worthy of a ballerina, it evades the hunter’s cloud of shot and retreats hastily across the field. Blue pigeons against a blue sky above a freshly harvested field confirm blue as the colour of freedom, as the hunter has to concede that ‘the space around them is easier to hit than the bird’, as people say in Denmark when they miss. As you sit waiting in your hide with your decoys in place, you let your gaze follow the hedgerow on the opposite side of the field, to see whether a small flock of pigeons might appear. Some days they fly over all day. On other days they are most active in the morning, and then start again in the afternoon. I have often sat in a hide and seen pigeons waiting in position in tree tops in the hedgerow surrounding the field I am on. Occasionally a young pigeon takes pity on me, or comes over to see the decoys out of pure curiosity. When the shot sounds, all its fellow pigeons in the surrounding trees take flight.

Once – the day I remember best from my old hunting ground, where there were occasionally pigeons – a lone pigeon flew by. As I fired a shot at it, a pigeon took flight from the tree I was sitting under. I hadn’t seen it, but it had undoubtedly had thoughts about me. It had no doubt wondered why I was sitting there completely still. Perhaps it also wondered about the decoys – why they didn’t move either. A pigeon is probably not the brightest creature in the world, but I’m sure it would have been entertaining to know what it was thinking about me.


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