Carrying equitment: If the farmer does not mind you using field margins, they certainly help with carting gear to your chosen spot. But in the winter these are often wet and cut up easily. I kept a large green garden wheelbarrow in the 4×4 for years, which was a great help, but it is still a beast to push uphill with all your tackle plus 80 pigeon. I don’t like to carry the kitchen sink, but my basic kit still comes to around eight stone or 50kg. The rotary battery is the heaviest item but I only use it on rare occasions to pull pigeon from places to which I can’t get.
Over the years I have carried many thousands of pigeon, but now my back has had enough of 16-stone loads. For this reason I have invested in an electric barrow, which I call the Humper. It can carry 150kg and will not only extend my pigeon-shooting life but also make those journeys to and fro much easier
Pigeon Decoying: How to place decoys in cradlesI only used real birds – no flappers or bouncers, which can put pigeon off on flat-drilled ground, where they can easily detect irregularities. I took time to get each real bird set up well to make them as lifelike as possible. When you see a real pigeon walking among your decoys you will know exactly what I mean. One important thing is to raise them a few inches off the ground with cradles. Remember to provide a large area for the birds to fly into so they don’t become cramped and can come in and out. I split my 15 decoys either side of this killing zone. It was not long before we had our first incomers and they behaved as we wanted – flying straight into the middle of the pattern. A steady stream all afternoon brought us a pleasing bag of 72 pigeon.
Collecting the flags: Remus, my black Labrador, was on his usual good form. I took the trays to the middle of the decoys and hardly moved as my four-legged friend brought in bird after bird. He is sensible enough to leave any decoys on cradles or on sticks to me. After collecting the shot birds he showed off by bringing all the flags in. On command he went off at speed to the far side of the field, where he carefully twisted and pulled out the cane before returning proudly, with the bamboo flag flying in the wind. It’s vital to show your dog patience and kindness while making sure he understands what you expect.