Those last stubbles are worth the trouble
Shooting Times & Country|September 23, 2020
Those last stubbles are worth the trouble
A final or cultivated stubble may not ooze potential but if you’re lucky it can produce some exciting shooting, says Tom Payne
Tom Payne

It’s been a bit of a strange harvest really. Last year was similar. Wheat has certainly been the crop of choice, from standing milky corn to old stubbles. My only theory is the timing that keeps them on the crop.

The first rape and barley stubbles didn’t shoot particularly well, not like they have in the past. Having said that, there weren’t a lot of rape stubbles. Peas are taking over as the break crop of choice in many areas.

The only reason I can think of for the early stubbles not being as productive is the early timing of the harvest. The standing wheat was still in the irresistible milky stage of growth, so why would birds leave it to scratch around for seed and grain?

Bag sizes have stayed consistent throughout the harvest, numbering from 75 to the 200s — nothing extreme but good and healthy nonetheless.

With the fields starting to be cultivated and the patchwork quilt of rural Britain beginning to change to a slightly bleak covering of browns and greens as the agricultural year comes to an end, I’m left reflecting on the harvest but also on the lookout for those final stubbles that can offer many a successful outing.

September is the month where, if you are lucky, a last stubble could produce a belter. Bean stubbles are worth looking out for, especially if there’s been a bit of rain to soften the spilt beans up a bit, making them palatable for the greedy woodpigeon.

To be honest, I haven’t seen a lot of farmers this year who are raving about their beans. Yields and general quality of crop are, to be quite frank, a bit of a disaster for many.


On my travels, I became aware of one particular farm that had pigeon getting into its standing beans. The was so stunted that birds were literally just picking them out of their pods at ground level.

The peas and wheat had shot really well on this farm from spring through to harvest, and pigeon numbers have been high. I’ve been conscious of managing my outings; however, it’s a big acreage that is fed by four separate parishes of pigeon depending on where you are on the farm, so you can shoot it harder than most — twice a week if it needs it.


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September 23, 2020