WILD PIGEONS NOT YOUR PARK PIGEONS!
When I informed my wife that I was heading out to join my friend David Hanson for an afternoon pigeon shoot with the new air powered “Wing Shot” air shotgun by Air Venturi, her reply was something like, “Not those little pigeons that hang around city parks? Surely not!”
I assured her the birds we were going after probably had never even been in the city limits of Lone Oak, the nearest “town” to where we were hunting. These were “wild,” feral birds that made their living just like other wild birds, eating seeds and grain around farms in the area. Little did I know just how “wild” these birds really are!
A few days before the hunt, the UPS man delivered my new air shotgun, complete with pre-loaded shot cups with #6 and #8 shot. I’ve been shooting and hunting with PCP air rifles for several years. These are not your grandfather’s air rifles. They charge up to 3,000 psi. of air pressure via scuba or carbon fiber tanks and the big bore rifles have enough power to harvest any animal in North America. I have a .25 caliber that is absolutely lethal on small game. But this Wing Shot air shotgun was totally new to me.
I promptly charged the shotgun to 3,000 psi., loaded it with a shot cup containing a little over an ounce of #6 shot, placed a quarter inch piece of plywood against a safe backstop, stapled a square of paper to the plywood, stepped back 25 yards, centered the shotgun bead on the center of the paper, and fired my first shot. With the discharge of the pressure, I knew the shotgun was shooting hard. Upon closer inspection of my target, I was amazed at just how hard!
The pattern from the choke was well dispersed in a 14-inch diameter circle on the paper; the shot had penetrated through the quarter-inch plywood. I was convinced this gun had plenty of power to use on a bird hunt. Air powered guns are not legal on any game animals or birds in Texas, with the exception of squirrels. This rules out the use of air on dove or quail or any of the migratory species, but feral pigeons aren’t game birds and neither are the exotic dove species, such as the Eurasian dove that is becoming common throughout much of the State.
Hanson had scouted a big hay barn situated in the middle of a cow pasture the day before and asked his “kin folks” that owned the land if we might go out for a late afternoon shoot. We pulled up to within a couple hundred yards of the barn and through binoculars, could see a big flock of feral pigeons sitting on the beams that supported the roof. Occasionally, a small flock would fly out to pick grit from a sand pile out in the field or fly to a nearby electrical line. Hanson and I had an ice cooler along for the birds we expected to harvest. We even had a plan for cooking them. Grilled pigeon breast with jalapeno and garlic wrapped in bacon was on the menu and from our vantage point a couple hundred yards away, this should be an easy shoot! Were we about to get educated in the ways of the feral pigeon! These most definitely weren’t the docile “park” birds my wife referenced.
The field was wide open and when we approached within a hundred yards of the barn, every pigeon took wing and flew directly to land on a highline wire about 400 yards distant. No problem, we thought. We would just sit inside the barn and shoot them as they flew back. There was no mass return flight as we witnessed when we spooked the birds. Occasionally, a bird or two would approach well out of range, circle a time or two and return to their highline perch. These pigeons were as wary as any game birds I’ve hunted, actually, more wary. A turkey, duck, or goose for that matter, can be called within shotgun range. Spinning wing decoys are usually highly effective for bringing dove within range. These pigeons had obviously graduated from the class of “Hunter Avoidance 101.”
About thirty minutes before dark, the desire to roost caused the birds to come back to the barn, but much to our despair, they didn’t simply fly inside the enclosure and land on a rafter. No, they circled high and then landed “ON TOP OF THE ROOF!” These birds were smart, and we came to the conclusion that to harvest them, we would have to devise a better plan.
Picture this: two grown men inside a big, open hay barn, hidden beside the tires of trailers or tractors, listening to what sounded like hundreds of bird feet clicking on top of the metal roof. These birds were driving us crazy! Only fifteen feet above our heads it sounded as though these pigeons were having a big square dance. We could hear them cooing and clicking up their heels!
Finally, a pigeon that had either been consuming too many fermented berries or possibly tired of just being “one of the flock,” hovered outside the roof, contemplating coming in and landing on a comfortable steel beam inside the barn. Hanson jerked the trigger on the Wing Shot and the pattern centered the bird. It was obvious that the power of compressed air in a shotgun generates enough power to cleanly harvest birds, but Hanson and I felt a bit cheated by these “super” pigeons. The next time I hear someone use the term, “pigeon brain,” do I ever have a story to relate that might just change their way of thinking about these “dumb” little birds!
We’re going back next week for round two with these super pigeons. This time we will be packing some spinning wing decoys and do our shooting away from the barn! You can check out the Wing Shot air shotgun by Air Venturi at www.pyramydair.com. I was highly impressed by its power and “feel;” and I plan to put it to use on rabbits and Eurasian dove when I find a concentration of these big, good eating birds!
Listen to “Outdoors with Luke Clayton and Friends” on radio stations from Nebraska to Texas on weekends or anytime online at www.catfishradio.com .