Q: What is a good bit of kit for building a hide? My friend recommends a billhook.

A: Bilhooks are still fine for cutting grass and weeds to weave into the outside of your cammo netting for extra realism, you can still pick them up for next to nothing at bootsales.

Better still, in my view, is a pair of garden secateurs for snipping off irritating branches, and a heavier chopper for the bigger stuff. Don’t let the vegetation beat you!

Q: I’m having problems setting up right and lefts on my pigeon rotary – the birds just seem to scatter. What can you suggest?

A: Most newcomers to the sport of pigeon shooting have great difficulty judging when to take their shots. They invariably get up too soon, in which case the second bird is out of range, or too late, whereby both birds are already hightailing it away from the decoys by the time he decides to take the shot.

The problem is exacerbated if you use a rotary machine, because, as we all know, it is really difficult to get two birds fully committed to the pattern at the same time. The first bird nearly always flares away from the machine before the second one is in range.

In the old days it was much easier, you simply let the first bird land, or at least get very close, then shot the second as soon as it came within range. It was then relatively simple to nail the first bird before it got out of range.

When pigeons were coming well it was not unusual for me to account for half of my bag with right and lefts, with two distinct killing areas for each barrel.

Nuts to woodpigeon

Q: The acorn crop in my part of the country, Cheshire, looks massive. I’ve never seen so much fruit in years. Have you had any reports from other pigeon shooters and is it likely we might suffer the same fate as we did back in the late 1990s when all the birds stayed in the woods over winter and refused to feed in the fields?

A: Acorn crops vary from year to year and certainly from county to county. Because pigeons are originally a woodland bird, they will not pass up any chance to harvest acorns, and will certainly forsake rape fields until every nut has been eaten.

On rare occasions I have known them to still be on acorns right into spring drilling time and the fruit is really black and manky, but still they go for them. I also think pigeons will forsake an area and move hundreds of miles if the acorn crop is particularly heavy.

Nearly all fruit has enjoyed a bumper crop this spring/summer and the same goes for acorns in many parts of the country, according to reports I’m getting.

Let’s hope it’s not so big that pigeons become preoccupied with the crop. Having said that, if they do, the ‘thinking’ pigeon shooter can actually enjoy some fantastic sport with birds in oak woodlands.

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