There are plenty of people out there who would say it’s next to impossible to consistently make anything of a bag over oilseed rape in winter. But I disagree. Difficult? Yes. Impossible? No.

To do as well as you can on this widely grown crop you need to think really carefully about the decoy pattern and how it looks from a pigeon’s point of view.

The secret – if it can be called that – is to create a pattern that’s full of eye-catching movement and therefore easily visible to woodpigeon on the wing.

Just watch and you will see that woodies don’t always approach high enough to see your decoy pattern in every part of a field.

That’s why I always strive to put out a pattern with maximum visibility and movement to draw the birds onto my part of the crop.

Where winter rape’s concerned, static ground decoys are rarely spotted from a distance.

When setting up I use two rotary machines, two or three floaters, three flappers and several gliders.

The only down side is that I need to take out more dead birds so must remember to remove them from the freezer the day before the shoot!

At a push, birds for the rotaries and floaters can be fitted with winged artificials, but these, of course, are not suitable for the flappers.

I strongly believe that correctly positioned flappers not only go a long way toward bringing the pigeons into the area of the pattern, but also to the exact place where you want to shoot them.

The minimum number of dead birds that I now take out are five – two to put on the gliders (which are set slightly back and to each side of the centre flapper) and three for the flappers.

Pigeon shooting patterns

The flock on each side consists of at least 15 half-shell decoys, 30 in all, spaced no more that two feet apart so that it resembles a natural feeding flock and achieves maximum visual impact.

Pigeon shooting pattern over oilseed rape

Putting the decoys quite close together in this fashion encourages pigeons to head towards the flappers, and into the killing area. The measurements that I use for this decoy pattern are as follows:

1: 20/25 paces from the hide to the centre flapper, which will face the hide, and one pace back, and another pace to the side of the flapper for the two gliders.

2: Then nine paces from the flapper to the left or right to throw the half shells out to your front and the outer side away from the hide. Set them up on their supports and repeat the exercise on the other side of the flapper. This then gives a killing area of eighteen paces wide

3: Now station a flapper on each side, one pace in at the hide end of the flock, approximately, and again facing the hide.

4: Two floaters can now be set out behind the flocks to act as “sign posts” leading the birds into the killing area directly in front of the hide

5: Finally, your rotary or rotaries should be positioned in full view of the birds approaching the ‘flock’ and, if possible, those passing from behind as well. Another three or four gliders can be placed at the inner edge of the flock on each side to increase the pulling power.

This pattern is used when I’m able to set up with the wind on my back otherwise I use the comma pattern if the wind is from the right or left.