The combines are out; the once luscious crops are now stubble and the sun is beating down in one of the longest periods of over 34ºC weather we’ve experienced down in Hampshire on record. Harvest is finally here, and harvest means stubble, and stubble means pigeon decoying.
In the old days of the ancient pre-2019, when the General Licence for the control of pigeons over crops was changed, harvest stubble offered a vital opportunity to cull the ever-rising number of woodpigeons, to ensure a balance conducive to both the protection of the species and that of the crops that farmers so keenly want not to get eaten during the next year’s growing cycle. To the pigeon hunter, those glorious days also meant being able to retrieve all shot pigeons easily, and to ensure that the carcasses weren’t wasted, by eating them or passing them on to family, friends or game dealers.
In the modern times of the 2020 harvest, things have changed somewhat, and we have to justify controlling pigeons over stubble in order to protect crops and wild-bird strips still growing around them. It’s not that you can’t hunt pigeons over stubble anymore, it’s simply that you must be prepared to justify in court, if necessary, why you are shooting over stubble to protect still growing crops, and that other means of dispersion have been tried before you did. Complex to write, but easy in practice – once you’ve understood the rules!
FIRST, CREATE YOUR HIDE
So, back to the glorious day in hand; the extraordinary, Mediteranian-type heat and the smell of dry, dusty, sunbleached fields. There are few places I would rather have been than in that place, right then. With pigeons flighting down a tree line and straight out into the field some 30 yards from the wood’s edge, it made sense to set up a hide under a sitty tree and put the decoys out in the field in a pattern ranging from 20-35 yards out from the hide.
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