A trailer for a Heston special
Shooting Times & Country|September 22, 2021
With the harvest spaced out like in years past, shooting over stubbles from a hide disguised as a bale helps Tom Payne build a decent bag
Tom Payne

At this time of year it feels like all I do is drive around in search of a half-decent outing. There’s plenty of food out there, even with two-thirds of the stubbles cultivated. There are also plenty of overwintered stubbles, especially wheat ones, which have continued to provide outings in places. The pea stubbles also hold plenty of food, even when cultivated, and should be watched frequently.

Interestingly, harvest timings have been slightly more normal and more like years of old. For the past three years, the harvest seems to have come and gone in the blink of an eye. This year it has been more spaced out and there are still the last bean stubbles to look forward to. These present ideal opportunities to catch a few more birds as we head into the autumn.

“Farms change from the vibrant colours of summer to the dull browns of autumn”

As it has been a disappointing grouse season for most people, I’ve had a bit of extra time to enjoy my number-one bird — the woodpigeon. I wouldn’t claim my outings have set the world on fire, but it’s not always a numbers game. As long as you can maximise your outings — making the most of what’s in front of you at the time — you are doing a good job.

Grey coveys

Away from the woodies, it is incredibly encouraging to see solid numbers of grey partridges on my reconnaissance trips. I’ve spotted good-sized coveys and greys in places that I have never seen them in before. The birds look healthy and are a sight all passionate countrymen are pleased to see.

Farmers have really been doing their bit in places to improve habitat and I’ve been seeing grey partridges on unkeepered ground. It’s pleasing to see when they are in such dire decline nationally.

Getting back to the grey bird that certainly isn’t in dire straits, it is a great time of year to start planning ahead with your pigeon shooting based on what farmers are planting and where.

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