PETER THEOBALD says: I think the problem stems from the fact that collared doves are quite trusting birds and pigeon shooters will only tackle them if specifically asked by farmers to do so.

Also, they have no value at the game dealer, so a lot of shooters feel uncomfortable about killing large numbers. There is no great fieldcraft involved, and, usually, no need to build a hide to keep you from being seen; you simply station yourself near the grain store and shoot them as they come in.

But as you say, they can provide some very testing shooting and are probably better to eat than woodies. Farmers, understandably, don’t like too many of them around the yard because they can eat a lot of grain, foul other feedstuffs with their droppings and make a mess of machinery.

They quickly cotton on to the dangers of a shotgun and will get warier the more cartridges you fire. In the end they learn to keep their distance. When we shoot them in South Africa, the locals breast them out, and make superb pies with them.

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