This expert guide to pigeon shooting sees Roberth Cuthbert talk to the team who shoot wood pigeon in their thousands.
EXPERT GUIDE TO PIGEON SHOOTING
“Rather than completely obscuring yourself, you need to break up outlines, while, vitally, being able to see out. There’s no point building a fortress only to have to pop your head over the top every five minutes, scaring off anything on its way to you.”Sound advice from Peter Schwerdt, renowned game-shot and woodpigeon nemesis.
I spent a day with him in a hide close to Andover. As I studiously noted the technical aspects to his approach, multi-layered hide with old-fashioned Army scrim netting and Advantage mesh forming its bulk, a pattern of 15 real pigeon decoys breasted out, I was quite surprised to see a pigeon magnet rigged up. As Richard Lovell, Peter’s friend and guide attended to a gently nodding flapper, provocatively I ventured that pigeon magnets were the work of the Devil, surely, and frowned upon by most traditionalists.
“Look,” he said, not quite rising to a fairly cheap shot, “there are a few purists who see pigeon as a game, not in a gamebird sense, but in a proffered chance sort of way. They feel that using a whirly is not quite the done thing. Of course, they’re sport, tremendous sport, the finest perhaps, but we are here to control vermin.” It was far from a hollow boast. In late November last year, Peter and a friend shot 1,082 in five hours in two hides three miles apart.
Lovell, who provided these photographs, is a Wiltshire-based pigeon guide. He doesn’t advertise; he doesn’t need to. Before he left us, to set up his own hide, I asked him precisely what made him and Peter such a devastating combination. “Honestly? I suppose it’s because we’ve been doing it for 18 years or so. I spend over 300 days a year looking at pigeon and their movements. I’m good at getting him under them; he’s great at shooting them. It’s that simple.”
I studied his decoy pattern and asked whether they were always positioned in an L shape. “Lord, no. Jumble it all up a little. L shapes work well, but then U shapes do, too; facing into the wind, of course. I tend to put the whirly at the rear of the pattern, inside the U if you like.”