Night time feral pigeon job - controlling ferals on a farm

A deadly combination!

A deadly combination! - Credit: Archant

Eddie Jones explains how he tackled a feral pigeon control job - at night - with his air rifle at a local farm, with great success

The Hick thermal can find even the most hidden quarry

The Hick thermal can find even the most hidden quarry - Credit: Archant

Since last month, I have been desperate to get out and do some daytime shooting, but the rain hasn’t stopped, and when it did finally let up, we found ourselves in full lockdown again. It was getting to the day before deadline and I had no option but to get out – we were now out of our firebreak lockdown here in Wales, so it was now or never to get something written for this month’s issue. Alan had been given a farm to shoot a couple of weeks prior that had a few feral pigeons knocking about. This was an opportunity to get something shot, at least.

A few local farmers had been told that there were traces of avian TB in some of the tests done on their cattle, and this is a serious infection. It’s as bad as TB that has been transmitted by badgers in some cases, so where possible, we always try to help the farmers out and clear as many pigeons around the farms as possible. We decided to go an hour before dark because this gave us a chance to check out the buildings and see how many could be going to roost inside them.

We had been at the farm for around 15 minutes when Alan spotted a pigeon inside one of the smaller sheds. I had already got the .22 Ultimate Sporter out and loaded, just in case. The pigeon was sitting tight in the beams around 25 yards away, and I lined up the Ultimate in the direction of the pigeon. I found him easily, thanks to the great Hawke optic mounted on the Ultimate, and resting on the windowsill of Alan’s truck, I easily dispatched the first one of the session.

I can still shoot standing with the night vision attached

I can still shoot standing with the night vision attached - Credit: Archant

PIGEONS EVERYWHERE!

With the light fading and not wanting to scare off the main group of pigeons, we waited for night to fall. Alan was going to film the session with his X-sight 4K because he wanted some footage for his Facebook group, ‘Hunting UK, and I would take all the shots, we agreed. That was never going to happen, though. This was a job to be sorted and it didn’t matter who shot what, as long as we achieved the required result, and when it was dark, we set off in search of the flock.

The first shed we came to made us both smile; looking through our thermal spotters we could see at least 18 pigeons between 15-30 yards away. Picking our birds out, we started dropping pigeons like flies – the Ward/ Pbir night-vision combo was working brilliantly at this distance. The pigeons were crystal clear, and the Ultimate Sporter dispatched everything I pointed it at. Alan was also on top form – his rifle was taking no prisoners either. I’m always surprised when feral pigeon shooting at night – you would think when you shoot a couple that the others would fly off, but they never do – luckily for us. It makes us look great when we go back to the farmer with a bag full of pigeons.

The Pellets and magazines perform faultlessly

The Pellets and magazines perform faultlessly - Credit: Archant

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TOO EASY

We continued on our quest, moving from barn to barn and we shot everything that came into the rifle’s view; it was too easy in the end. After a while, I decided to go for a walk around the smaller sheds. You can’t really shoot from inside them, so as soon as I spot one, I find the best place to shoot from. With the set-up I have I can still shoot free-standing, but I prefer to find something to rest on. Around a farm there is always machinery or bales, even gates, so I make the most of the extra help to ensure a clean kill.

I could hear Alan still having some luck in the bigger sheds, but I was not so lucky. I’d been walking around for 15 minutes when I finally spotted a pigeon in one of the older sheds. It was sitting right in the eaves of the shed, but as I looked through the scope, I could see it no problem. I moved forward so I could take a rest on a tractor. This was a stable platform to take a nice 30-yard shot and I took the pigeon between the shoulder blades as it was sitting with its back to me. This is one of my favourite shot placements on a bird because you rarely get a flyer after you hit them. As was the norm, the pellet hit home and the bird slumped forward. I had to wait a few seconds before it fell from the ledge and I thought it was going to stay up there. We had already had to climb – well, I had to climb – to retrieve birds that had not moved after being shot. Alan would have probably broken his neck if he’d tried, that’s the trouble when you’re carrying a few extra pounds!

I had to get low to shoot this pigeon

I had to get low to shoot this pigeon - Credit: Archant

LAST CALL

It wasn’t long before I found a pigeon in a small shelter. I could see it with the thermal, but not with the scope, so I looked from all angles until I finally found a position to take the shot. I kneeled in front of a hay bale and could just see its head above a cross bar. The pigeon knew I was there and sat as still as possible as I lined up the crosshairs just below its glowing eye. I let the Air Arms Field pellet do its worst and the pigeon tumbled backwards, flapping its wings frantically – it was only the nerves, though – the pellet had hit it perfectly. There is no getting away from a .22 pellet when it hits its mark.

I decided to go back into the bigger sheds and see how Alan was getting on. I hadn’t heard a shot for a while in there, so I thought that was it, but just as I got to the gate in front of the shed, I could see one on a rafter. It was strange because if Alan was in there still, then it would surely have been shot. I called to Alan to see where he was – I don’t like shooting anywhere that I know people could be. Even though I was shooting 30 feet in the air, I needed to know where he was. As I called him, I heard a shot to my right – he had found a pigeon in the smallest shed ever! The bird was no more than five feet above him. I told him there was another in the big shed, so he came over to film one last shot. The pigeon was dispatched clinically and ended up in the bag with the others.

We decided to call it a night. We had covered the whole farm and shot every pigeon on it. There were no pigeons that had escaped; even the odd one that we missed was taken with the next shot. After picking everything up, and counting three stuck up on beams that I couldn’t get to, we finished with 26. It was an excellent session and I look forward to the next farm that calls us to do the same. I got Alan to take some pictures before we finished and packed the guns away, and the farmer was over the moon with our results – we were invited back anytime.

If you are wondering why Alan is not in any pictures, I decided not to include him this month, Well, why should I? It’s all about me isn’t it!

A view through the thermal clearly shows pigeons in the barn

A view through the thermal clearly shows pigeons in the barn - Credit: Archant

My first and only shot in daylight

My first and only shot in daylight - Credit: Archant

A great little session and plenty of pigeons removed

A great little session and plenty of pigeons removed - Credit: Archant