Believe it or not, not washing your shooting kit will help!
Mat Manning offers five key tips for airgunners to improve their fieldcraft
1. Go on a reconnaissance mission
Reconnaissance around your shooting permissions will help you to target the right places at the right time but all wildlife observation is beneficial — whether in the field, car, park or garden. Observing and understanding wildlife and the changing seasons of the countryside are probably the most underrated elements of fieldcraft.
2. Patience, patience
Patience is the watchword for successful airgunning. Take your time and manage your expectations so you don’t expect too much too soon. In the field, a patient approach will stand you in good stead. You’re harder to spot when you’re not moving, so be prepared for long periods of inactivity.
3. Use natural cover
Going unseen is an important element of airgun hunting. You don’t have to have camouflage netting and the latest tree-print clothing to achieve it. Using natural cover can often be more effective than constructing an artificial hide because you aren’t making any conspicuous changes to the landscape. Don’t neglect shady areas. Shade is one of the most effective forms of natural cover.
4. Get rid of suspicious smells
Scents from the human world spell danger to quarry species, especially rabbits. Stalking with the wind in your face will help to carry odours away from twitching nostrils, but it’s better if you can eliminate them from the start. Don’t wash your shooting clothes unless you have to and don’t use washing powder when you do. Avoid using deodorant and aftershave immediately before you head out shooting and don’t have strong air fresheners in your car.
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5. Keep getting out there
The most important lessons in fieldcraft are usually the ones you learn for yourself. The only way to achieve that is to get out in the field. Failures are inevitable so don’t be disheartened when you go home with an empty bag. The important thing is to learn from every experience. Work out why the rabbit bolted into the hedgerow before you were close enough for a shot, or why the pigeons refused to land near your decoys, and try to get it right next time.