Back in March I caught up with my good friend, Jack Depledge who is also a contributor of Sporting Gun, who writes about college life for young keepers. Jack and I have been pals for a number of years and I always like a catch up where possible – and what better way to do so than with a morning’s crowing?
The main concern was trying to find a spot that would be worthwhile to shoot, as March is normally a quiet time on the crowing front for me. I decide to hit the same area where I tested my homemade lofting decoys last year. I set up on a small hedge with decoys lofted in the tree and field to ambush corvids heading for the lamb feeders.
I had crows hitting me from both sides of the hedge, which made it difficult to pick up targets as I almost had a 360 degree arc of fire. This got me thinking about coming up with a double team action plan with the help of Jack. The following morning, I picked Jack up before heading to the estate. As the shooting trip was a last minute plan, I provided all the decoying equipment, guns and even cartridges. Having offered Jack his musket of choice out of my collection, he opted for my infamous Benelli Nova with the Kicks half choke.
I on the other hand decided to dust off the old side-by-side and take my Yeoman while 35g no.5 Victory White were the cartridges of choice for the crows as usual.
Crow shooting with a Shotkam
After arriving on the shoot and lugging our gear across the field, the two of us soon had the decoys in place and the hide built. The decoy layout was designed to suit the “buddy system” shooting position with two separate decoy spreads on either side of the hedge. The birds at this time of year are milling about and can approach from every direction, which usually makes picking the best side of the hedge to put the decoys on nearly impossible, but our plan left us covered on all sides.
The decoy layout itself was very basic with a simple scattering of half a dozen full bodies on either side of the hedge and my MK1 prototype floating decoy thrown in for its field test. The hide was set up in a gap on a small hedge making it look like the bushes carried on. This allowed a good shooting position over both fields due to the simple box shaped hide. We then set the seats up so that Jack and I were shoulder-to-shoulder facing opposite ways. This allowed each of us to have a good180 degree arc of fire without the danger of each other being anywhere near one another’s muzzles – for obvious safety reasons.
The two positions basically allowed us to watch a decoy layout each and only shoot the birds that are in that arc of fire. We decided that if the birds favoured one side, we would take it turns to share the sport as equally as possible.
Read more about Tom Sykes’ crow shooting in this months Sporting Gun out on Tuesday 3rd May.
Watch the view from Tom’s gun as he shoots crows now.