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What time of day are woodpigeon most active? When do woodpigeon feed?

When are you likely to see pigeon out feeding?

Just one of the letters received in our pigeon postbag.

When do woodpigeon feed?

Q: I’m just starting out shooting on my local farm and and would like to know when do woodpigeon feed?

A:  There is a difference between when they are most active, and when you are most likely to make a bag.

On short winter days, pigeons will have spent up to 16 hours roosting, so will be understandably hungry at first light, when they will pour out to feed in large flocks. Large flocks usually mean little shooting for the decoyer. That is the main reason why I seldom bother to try my luck early.

Pigeons will also want to go back to roost on a full stomach, so the last few hours of daylight are usually much more productive. (Read how to hang woodpigeon.)

It’s all about timing

I am always amazed at the people who get up at the crack of dawn to fire half a dozen shots at vast flocks of pigeon, only to get bored by midday and go home, just when I am often arriving to fend off the same birds that have not fed for almost 24 hours. Birds which are almost suicidal in getting to the decoys.

Summer and autumn decoying are much more successful because birds will always leave their main feed until later in the day.

A full crop

Q: Is it harder to shoot a woodpigeon with a crop full of food than one which hasn’t fed and is empty?

A: This is one of many fanciful ideas about pigeon shooting that’s given rise to the idea of big pellets being needed to kill them cleanly. The theory here is that the larger shot can punch through a heavy crop and reach a bird’s vital organs more easily.

I’ve shot enough woodies in my time to not worry about tales of this kind and find that – no matter how much food is being carried – enough of my favourite 7.1/2s get through to kill pigeons clean as a whistle. I certainly don’t feel the need to change my cartridge for something bigger or heavier. (Read  how to get a permission for pigeon shooting.)

This article was originally published in 2014 and has been updated.