View Full Version : A lovely afternoons roosting.

Aaron Rushton
24-03-2011, 04:44 PM
Well this was about a week ago now but it has taken me ages to get the picture downloaded. A lot of the pics ore for a article a may write for airgunner magazine which need posing type shots so i might as well put those up as well. Enjoy!

It was a sunny spring afternoon and after the harshness of winter it was great to be able to go out with no more than a couple of layers on. My shoot today was a strip of woods surrounded by paddocks. The wood is a line of huge trees, still bare from winter most with great bushes of ivy at their hearts which are perfect for pigeons. Pigeons love these bushes of ivy as they provide great shelter with waxy leaves all year round. It was 17:00 and as i walked up the embankment i counted the separate cooing of at least 10 individual birds. This is a good sing as if they have started looking for a mate already they will often be preoccupied with flitting through the lower canopy after each other. As i entered the paddock at the bottom of the wood 2 pigeons burst out of the ivy ahead of me, sacring off another one further down. This was to be expected as it is almost impossible to spot a pigeon which has not already spotted you. I pulled on my gloves, hat and facenet to cover and exposed patches of skin. This is very important when hunting pigeons as their eyesight is the best of all airgun quarry and can see a pink face from over 300 yards away easily. I surveyed the area and decided a spot just at the base of an ash tree would be good to start with.
It looked over 2 large trees, one with huge bushes of ivy at the centre. Suprisingly they were still laden with berries, an excellent food source for pigeons when there are few crops being grown. As i sat down i noticed for the first time in 6 months we had butterflies! The sun and warmth must have invited them to emerge from their winter caskets. They were cabbage whites, which as the name suggests, lay their eggs on cabbage and their caterpillars eat cabbage. This was bad news for my garden which is under attack from the pigeons as well. But they were still very pretty to watch flitting around the paddock After about twenty minutes of watching pigeons land in every other part of the wood but the one i was looking over i was thinking of moving. This is generally a bad idea when shooting pigeons because as soon as you make it obvious where you are by moving they spot you as a danger and keep an eye on you until you get too close for comfort. So i stuck at the spot i was in and waited. As i waited i watched a tiny spider slowly crawl up to the top of a long grass stem. It then turned round sticking it's abdomen in the air and let off a strand of silk which was immediately caught by the breeze. It glinted there for a few seconds before it pulled and the spider was whisked away on it's own sail, finding another patch to settle on. It was a lovely sight and really made my day. After another five minutes i heard a low flapping sound above my head and watched a pigeon swoop down onto a branch about 35 yrds away from me. I slowly shifted my rifle around and peered through the scope.
It has landed behind a haze of twigs which is always a bit of a bother. Never be tempted to try and weave a pellet through the twigs unless you are completely confident it will find its mark or you will hit a twig and miss, or even worse, wound your target. Usually the pigeon will shift position to allow you a shot, as happened in this case. It sidled down the branch until it's head was just sticking out from behind a branch. I took a quick glance at my windicator (feather on a string at the end of my barrel) and could see there was a light left to right breeze blowing it about 30 degrees. I adjusted my aim very slightly, just to the left of the point of impact. I took a breath, gently slipped the second stage of the trigger. The rifle coughed and a split second later there was a loud SMACK and the pigeon rolled over, crashing through the ivy. I put my rifle on safe and jogged into the woods. You may be thinking it would be stupid to brake cover and scare any other pigeons off, but i always pick up quarry straight afterwards to be absoloutley sure it's dead. 99.9% it's dead before it hits the floor but for peace of mind i always jog up. The other reason is that there is a largen fox den near here and they will have your pigeon as soon as it's touched the floor. I found it right below the branch it was on, showing it was a clean shot. The pellet had struck exactly where i wanted it to, just behind the eye. I picked it and walked back to my rifle, spooking a pigeon but i didn't mind. I was just satisfied having pulled off a perfect shot. I placed it high up in the fork of tree out of reach of any foxes. I decided now that i had a pigeon in the bag that i would go for a slow stalk up the woods. This is not the most productive method, and many fly off before you get a chance at a shot, but it is a very enjoyable way of hunting. I stalked up through the trees, taking a few silent steps then stopping to look around for at least 30 seconds before i was satisfied then repeating the process. It was slow, but relaxing and if done right, fairly productive. I heard a low humming sound and turned around, puzzled as to what it was. Then spotted a bumble bee buzzing around the leaf litter. Must have just hatched out and still be getting used to it's wings. I stalked on, nearly jumping out of my skin as a pigeon in the heart of a clump of ivy clattered out noisily about 5 feet above my head. After moving from tree to tree as the sun set, a pigeon landed silently about 20 yrds up into a tall tree right in front of me.
I froze, and ever so slowly lifted the rifle up to my shoulder. Holding the rifle unsupported and moving it up at snails pace was killing my arms, and i was wondering if would be able to pull off a standing shot. The rifle was in my shoulder and i peered through the scope, spotting the top of the pigeons head peering down at me suspiciously. I settled my breathing and put the crosshairs half a mildot under its brain and took the shot. The pigeon dropped with a heavy thud on the forest floor about 10 feet in front of me. The pellet had gone clipped straight through the top of its head, only just going through the top of its brain, but it was still dead straight away. I must have underestimated the effects of gravity at such a steep angle but still got it. It was now quater past six and the sun was touching the horizon, causing lovely long shadows on the trees. I decided now would be a good time to head back home, stalking back through the woods. I was nearing the end of the wood when i suddenly spotted a pigeon about 40 yrds in front of me. It had it's neck craned in the fashion of a pigeon who has spotted something which it think might be a threat but does not know yet so it will wathc carefully and fly if it moves. I froze and waited for it too settel down. After about a minute it seemed to relax and flitted into the ivy. I could see it's movements but not i so crept to a tree about 3 yards away from me.
I watched it's movements in the ivy, seeing the occaisonal flick of a tail or edge of a wing. Finally it waddled into a patch where i could see the upper half of it's body. I took aim about half a mildot up and let of the shot. The gun coughed and the pigeon flew off unharmed. I stood their puzzled for a second before looking down the path of my barrel and seeing a twig snapped in half, only on by a thread. I had forgotten to check for twigs in front of the barrel, but at least i did'nt wound it, the pellet being sent way off course by the twig. I walked home as the sun dipped below the horizon, happy with my brace of pigeons after a lovely afternoons roost shoot. 936

24-03-2011, 05:34 PM
lovely, one of the tastiest meats out there!

24-03-2011, 06:34 PM
Nice read, thanks for putting that up. I love air rifle hunting.
I went out with my air rifle last evening and was very pleased to get 3 rabbits out of the first 3 shots I took..
I missed the next two though..lol
I have never shot a pigeon with an air rifle though, so I might go and hide up near some ivy somewhen soon. They do love to gorge on the berrys, don't they..

24-03-2011, 06:34 PM
Interesting write up. How were they cooked?

Aaron Rushton
24-03-2011, 07:26 PM
Interesting write up. How were they cooked?

i have breasted and legged them now and they are in the freezer. usually i put a little oil and garlic in a hot pan, cook for 2 minute on each side then let them relax in the oven at 100C for 10 minutes. letting them relax is crucial for tender pink meat.

paul standley
24-03-2011, 08:01 PM
Nice narrative Aaron, good luck with your article for Airgunner magazine butty.