Well, yesterday started out as another routine day at work, until one of my mates rang and mentioned he could get off in the afternoon if I fancied a bit of decoying.
Having recently rekindled my interest in the loud, bangy pipe on the clays, with increasing confidence and hit rates, I had a word with the boss and after a bit of sweet talking, set off home to get ready!!
Now I’ve not decoyed before and Andy, whose deeks and shotty we were using, had only dipped his toes in; so we weren’t holding much hope in fairness, as we set out.
Arriving at Rogers farm about 14:30, I already knew where we would be setting up; a week or so previously I had spotted a load of pigeons on the rape, so we parked the landy up (I really need to get myself one!!!) and made our way along the hedge line until we reached a natural hide under a small tree. We stopped here to discuss wind direction, sun and deek patterns, which Andy (reliably as it turned out) informed me would mean that the birds would be coming from behind us into the pattern… if they came at all!!! Not ideal, but we were keen to get on and bit the bullet…
So, the deeks went out about 18 – 25 yrds away and as Andy did the bizz I got to work making a little hide. 10 mins of bending and weaving branches gave us a fairly comfortable hide, just big enough for 2 to safely shoot; with the sun behind us we weren’t silhouetted and had a good amount of cover overhead. I was quietly smug at how well it had turned out!!
Then the waiting game commenced…
Only 15 mins after we had gone into quiet mode we got our first pigeon interested, I spotted it some way off and followed as it first flew over the deeks at height, checked and circled in behind us, losing altitude as it closed in. In my excitement (I did say this was my first time!!) I grabbed Andy’s leg to let him know to ready the gun, which made him jump and he dropped my bino’s. Once he realised why I was holding his leg, he snatched the Beretta up and just as the bird came over us, was ready to take the shot…. bang, bang…… ‘f&*k, s*$t, how did I miss that’, were the words that followed. In honesty he had missed a very easy bird, at maybe 20yrds. We had a chat, coming to agreement that it must have been the way we were sitting that made him miss and next time he should compensate…. well at least I had an excuse when I missed now!!
On the positive side, it looked like Andy’s pattern was working. We only had 12 basic shell decoys, laid out in front of us, not so much in a pattern that I could recall from the reading up I had done on decoying, it was 2 small groups with a gap in between. I didn’t really care though as it seemed to be working.
The gun was handed to me and 15 mins later our second caller arrived; albeit a faster left to right which I missed, agreeing with Andy that the sitting position required a bit of adjustment!!
The gun went back to my shooting partner, before a longer wait came. There were plenty of birds around, some big flocks of 50+ birds in the distance, with smaller groups of 10 – 15 having a look at our pattern from the safety of the sky. Roger was out ploughing the field behind which was doing us a favour moving the birds around.
Then we had a random bird appear from nowhere, before I could point it out to Andy I had a ringing in my right ear and the bird dropped into the pattern…. bugger me, he’d only gone and shot it!!! After a short pause to check no other birds were coming in, I ran out and put the dead bird into the pattern, propping its head up with a bit of twig, hoping it didn’t spook any other interest in the pattern.
When I sat back down, Andy passed the gun to me for my turn and I set myself. 10 mins later I turned to speak with him and he was smiling, I asked him what was up, thinking it was me, as a noddy, doing something wrong, then he said ‘that was my first pigeon over decoys’. No wonder he was still smiling!!
20 mins later I got my first ever pigeon too, a nice easy bird that approached from the front for some reason. As soon as I went to pull the trigger I knew he was dead, this one to fell like a stone into the pattern. Now I know why he was smiling for so long… and why decoying is such a popular pastime!!!! In that short moment after pulling the trigger I felt a big, sharp hook catch me and begin to pull me in….. That bird also went into the pattern in the same way as its friend.
After that high it went somewhat downhill though, another 4 pigeons came into range, which were all missed. We also got interest from a couple of magpies and 4 crows, the birds coming into range were missed too. In all, a lot of birds were around but seemed more interested in the other fields (wheat I think) and the muck pile!!
Once the flow of birds had dried up, we realised how cold it was… I was frozen to my bones, despite having plenty of warm clothes on. Its amazing how cold you can get sitting still, waiting. Normally if I had this amount of clothes on I’d be sweating like a sweaty thing. It was at this point that we decided to call it a day, grabbing the deeks and 2 birds we started to make our way back to the landy.
As we set off a dog walker wondered across the field behind us, his dog driving a Muntjac doe right across the front of us, I tried to stop her with a shout but she ignored me…. That is until she scented us. Stopping as though she had been instantly frozen, staring at us, then running in the opposite direction, through a hedge and out of sight. A beautiful sight and a cracking end to the day; although it would have been perfect if I had the BR with me…..
Despite the lowly 2 birds for the pot, we gained a very good understanding of flight patterns and lines across my permission and have already agreed where the next session will be. I’ve found another area where the Munties are roaming and I spotted a lot of fox activity, which the 17 Rem can investigate!!!
Much more importantly though, we both had a cracking afternoons sport out in the fresh (very fresh!!) air.
So that’s a little write up of my first day decoying. I’m sure my wife will be very pleased as I’ve now found another way to ‘waste’ my spare time and money!! But I have genuinely sparked an interest in a sport that previously, I had no time for.