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Pigeon Shooting

The common woodpigeon is a wild, canny bird and – as well as being surprisingly beautiful – is a major pest of agricultural crops in the UK that also happens to make for very good eating.

Pigeon shooting is a highly popular pastime for many shooters, who tend to use a 12 bore shotgun in either over-and-under or side-by-side, although other gauges are also used. Single-barrelled semi-automatic shotguns are also popular and, though pump-action shotguns have never really caught on in the UK, they too can be a very effective pest control tool.

Pigeons can be difficult birds to outwit, and many shooters will use a combination of a hide (a camouflaged screen to sit behind) and decoys (fake pigeons or dead birds pegged out on the ground or attached to moving ‘flappers’ or ‘rotaries’) in order to tempt birds within range. Pigeons are most frequently shot over wheat, barley, peas and oilseed rape crops, although shooters can also target ‘roosts’ away from arable land; this is the location that flocks of pigeon will gather to spend the night.

Pigeons are also shot during driven game days and on rough shoots alongside other quarry species such as pheasant, partridge, duck and woodcock.

In order to go pigeon shooting, you will need to pay a professional guide or find your own land on which to shoot with permission – usually by asking a farmer, landowner or gamekeeper.

You can usually find pigeon to eat in good local butchers and some supermarkets, as well as on the menu in restaurants all over the country.

SACS fully supports the control of pigeons by shooting, and carefully monitors the Government’s interference with General Licences. Every year SACS responds critically and constructively to the UK-wide consultations on the General Licences, which allow shooters to control pest species of birds such as pigeons, corvids and Canada geese. The General Licences are a derogation from EU law that otherwise protects ALL bird species. It is a vital area of our work for you.

Pigeon shooters are also susceptible to interference by members of the public, and we are on hand 24/7 to help members who find themselves being visited by the police while out in the field. JOIN here to help our work and help yourself.