The morning mist was burning off as we arrived at a large L shaped field of fifty to sixty acres which had recently been drilled with spring barley. I was with my one legged pigeon shooting pal, AC and Geoff another friend who regularly shoots with him. Reconnaissance the previous afternoon had confirmed to AC that pigeons had found the field and that there was a good scattering of seed showing on the surface, a rare thing these days with efficient modern drills. On this occasion the reason was that it was direct drilled into a standing crop of autumn sown mustard that had been sprayed off a week ago. Therefore the drill was not working on a cultivated seed bed but on ground firmed by winter weather and so the drill did not work so effectively. All this was good news for us three musketeer pigeon shooters.
There was a spinney in the angle of the L which was the obvious place for one hide but the second position was more difficult to decide. There appeared to be no pigeons on the field as we arrived but then a flock of about two hundred lifted from the far side hidden by a roll of the ground.
It was decided that AC and Geoff would shoot together from a hide on the edge of the spinney and I would try from the far side with a hide on the open headland where there was no cover. For me there was no vehicle access but with the farmer’s permission I drove with one wheel on the outside edge and the other on the drill.
It took time to set up hides and then to flag the end of the L behind the spinney and with the addition of a rope banger it was hoped to prevent birds getting down on the area of the field. By now the sun was clearing the mist and it was a beautiful spring day but with a gentle easterly breeze which had a cool bite to it. Was this going to be successful or had the birds found food elsewhere? I was no sooner in my hide than a pigeon appeared from nowhere over the decoys just as my gun had been loaded and so the first customer was in the bag.
It was not long before there were shots from the spinney and we were all in action. Birds were decoying well but the wind was veering to the south which though becoming ideal form the spinney, was quartering into my face and so pigeons appeared unseen as they approach my decoys from behind over my right shoulder. This made shooting more awkward and though rights and lefts were achievable earlier as birds crossed my front it was only possible to snap singles at those appearing from behind. I decided to alter my hide by 90 degrees which greatly improve the situation. Shooting was interesting and exciting but things were going well for us all. Birds were decoying from a great height as they arrived over the field from afar. Like falcons they stooped with wings back like darts out of the blue. This is the greatest thrill for the pigeon shooter when pigeons are committed to your decoys when first appearing as only specs, high in the sky.
AC and Geoff were having multiple shots between them and our radios were alive with constant chat and excited banter between bangs. By mid day we estimated that we had about a hundred between us. Still birds came, some as singles others in larger groups but all were continuing to decoy well until the end when the field around me appeared to be more grey with pigeons than brown of the soil. An hour later our pick up was 270 plus ten corvids. This was a very special day’s sport on spring drilling and as good as it gets; a highlight in my game book.