While many people think of pigeons as docile birds rather than pests, the truth is that some of them are a great nuisance to farmers, and they can cause devastating losses. Using the best pigeon decoys is one way of keeping them at bay. Wood Pigeons are pigeons that live in the wild and feed on grains, seeds, and nuts in farms.
A few birds pecking on grains is not necessarily cause for alarm, but woodpigeons travel in flocks. This means that they descend upon farms in groups of up to a hundred birds and eat till they’ve had their fill.
Needless to say, this causes massive loss to the hardworking farmer. As such, people have had to come up with ways to control pigeon populations. One of the most popular methods among farmers is pigeon shooting.
There are several ways to get rid of the pesky birds, but pigeon decoy shooting has been proven to be one of the most effective methods of pigeon population control.
What is Decoying?
Pigeon decoying is the use of decoys or “fake birds’ ‘ to lure the pigeons into a target zone within shooting range. This is a skill that takes quite some time to master. Decoying is a long process that involves taking note of the birds’ flight lines and analyzing wind direction.
Since pigeons are flocking birds, using a number of decoys in the right pattern will convince them to fly into a good feeding zone.
Woodpigeons are troublesome birds that bring immeasurable losses to farmers. They enjoy eating seeds, grains, and shoots of plants, especially around summer. These birds travel in flocks, and when they raid a farm, the losses can be pretty huge.
Since pigeons are flocking birds, they are attracted to flocks of their kind. When the pigeon sees what it assumes to be its fellow birds, it swoops in right where you want it, and you can shoot it.
That is ideally how pigeon decoy shooting works. Although it sounds straightforward, several factors go into making decoying a success. The first step is finding the right decoys to use.
It is important to note that pigeons are more intelligent than humans give them credit for. This is why using the right decoys and arranging them in the correct pattern is essential. If the pattern is slightly off, the chances are high that the pigeons will not fall for the decoy.
The decoys should be set up in a way that they look natural. For instance, they should not be all facing the same direction. Studying the feeding habits of the birds before setting up the decoys is one of the best ways to gather information that will be useful in the decoying process.
Uses of Pigeon Decoys
Pigeon decoys are used to lure pigeons into a vantage point for the shooter. Nowadays, there is a wide variety of pigeon decoys in the market to choose from.
These include plastic decoys, painted shell decoys, full-bodied versions, flock coated decoys, and neoprene fold-up decoys that can be set up in different poses. Each type of decoy has a set of advantages that sets it apart from the rest.
The full-bodied decoys are arguably the best because they are the most realistic, but they are pretty bulky so carrying them around is rather cumbersome.
Using a mix of the full-bodied and other decoys is one of the best ways to achieve success. Choosing the type of decoy is primarily dependent on your budget and how you plan to transport them.
Related Article: Will Dove Decoy work for Pigeons
The Best Pigeon Decoys
There are several pigeon decoys in the market to choose from. Here, we will highlight some of the best alongside their features and advantages.
Flocked Flying Pigeon Decoy
This is a full-bodied pigeon decoy. Once fixed to a pole, a line can be used to simulate the wings’ flapping motion. It is also made with high quality flocked finish preventing glare from the sun. The decoy can also be used with bouncers to enhance movement.
- Realistic design
- Movement depends on wind
2 x Nitehawk Flocked Pigeon Decoys
This decoy is made to be used with bouncers and magnets. The wings depend on the magnet’s rotating motion, so there is no need for wind. The decoy size is as follows: Height: 18cm, Length: 35cm and Width: 43cm (including wings)
- Flocked finish makes it look more realistic
- No need for wind. Movement is dependent on magnets
- Slightly pricey
Riverside Outdoor Triple Play 3 Pigeon Decoy Rotary Motion Unit
This pigeon motion unit is an excellent addition to your decoying products. It uses three steel carousel-style arms to rotate the decoys. 3 pigeon decoys are rotated around in a stop-start motion by the motion base.
This gives it a realistic look. It also comes with base spikes that are dug into the ground. The decoys and the steel arms are detachable from the motion unit, making it relatively compact.
- Decoys are flocked to prevent shine or glare
- Movement is not dependent on wind
- Additional cost because it requires batteries
NITEHAWK 12 x Painted Full Body Pigeon Decoy Shell Hunting Shooting Fake Bird
This is a set of 12 full-body painted decoys that is great for all types of hunts. The decoy is life-size and made up of resin which allows it to survive harsh weather conditions.
It also comes with a stake for securing in the ground. The decoy also allows for gentle motion of the pigeon imitating pecking, giving it a realistic look.
- Designed to survive harsh weather
- Very realistic
- Slightly expensive
Riverside Outdoor Flying Pigeon Decoy
This is an excellent pigeon decoy with a realistic movement of a pigeon coming to land. It comes with highly detailed printed wings and a landing tail. The bouncer is a vital part for the realistic movement of the decoy.
- Realistic movement
- No batteries required
- Wind is required for movement
Riverside Outdoor Pigeon Decoy + Decoying Terminator
This decoy comes with highly detailed printed wings and a landing tail. Features include a bouncer for the realistic movement of the decoy. It is very lightweight and easy to carry.
- Easy to carry
- Realistic movement
- Needs wind for movement
Nitehawk 6 x Flocked Full Body Hunting Shooting Fake Bird Pigeon Decoy.
This Nitehawk model comes with 6 decoys. The decoys are all life-sized and designed to survive all manner of weather conditions. It comes with a stake for securing it in the ground. Other features include the movement of the decoys to imitate gentle pecking, making them more realistic.
- Realistic movement
- Rather costly
How to use Pigeon Decoys
Getting the right pigeon decoys is just the first step in pigeon decoy shooting. The success of the whole process will depend on a number of different factors.
- Finding the right location
The best way to choose the right location is by keenly observing the birds. Before you set up the decoys, watch them and take note of the trees and telegraph wires they like perching on.
The more time you spend watching them, the more you learn about their feeding habits. You will see the fields they like raiding the most, and this is what you’re looking for.
- Hide construction
The position you choose to shoot from is just as essential to the whole process as the decoys themselves. You can choose to use a natural cover or go all in and construct a hide. Either way, it is vital that you get the correct position.
Pigeons are easily spooked, so you should ensure you have adequate cover. The more comfortable the hide, the more comfortable you will be as you wait for the right opportunity to shoot. This is important, but you should not compromise a good vantage point for a more comfortable hide.
You should be keen to spot the birds early so that you can ready your rifle before they land. Usually, the pigeons will pause for a few seconds after landing to look for signs of danger before they start feeding.
This is the best chance to shoot. When you shoot one, take note of how it fell. If it falls forward, you do not have to retrieve it immediately.
It will serve to lure other birds in and add realism to your pattern. However, if the shot pigeon lands on its back, retrieve it immediately because a dead bird is sure to send a warning sign to the rest.
What is a pigeon decoy pattern?
A pigeon decoy pattern is the configuration of your pigeon decoys that will help maximize your efficiency when pigeon shooting. A decoy pattern will include a shooting area close to your hide.
How to set up a pigeon decoy pattern
There are various decoy patterns that you can opt for to help improve your shooting skills. The first thing is the position of your hide, which ought to be about 30 yards or less from you. The decoy pattern should always include a clear landing zone with an open sky above.
The easiest and most popular pigeon decoy pattern that you should use is the horseshoe pattern. Horseshoes are shaped to resemble a U. This is the same pattern that your decoys shall be arranged in.
The U-shape allows for a landing area that is about 30 yards wide. The pigeons should also be arranged facing the wind but not at the same direct angle. This will look unnatural, and your aim is to simulate a flock of foraging pigeons.
It is advisable to position the pigeon decoys at slightly different angles but generally facing the wind. The wind should then be blowing from behind your hide. As pigeons land into the wind, they will slow down just enough for you to shoot them even mid-air.
To improve the efficiency of the u-shaped pigeon decoy pattern, you can also include magnets and floaters.
The next pigeon decoy pattern that you should try is the L-shaped pattern. As the name suggests, this pattern has the decoys arranged to resemble an L. The projecting side of this pigeon decoy configuration will keep the pigeons from landing or moving to the sides.
You can also be creative with this pattern and include magnets and floaters. This will improve the movements in your decoy pattern, making it more attractive to pigeons. You can continue using the floaters and magnets as long as they do not scare away pigeons.
Twin magnet pattern
The twin magnet pattern is also another configuration that you can use. This will have two magnets with the landing area in between.
Being creative with your decoy pattern may help improve the number of your kills, but you should always adhere to the principles of an efficient pigeon decoy pattern.
Comma pigeon decoy pattern.
You can also go for the comma pigeon decoy pattern, which will require about eight or twenty decoys. You can also include dead pigeons while being careful not to overcrowd or to have a patched pattern which will hamper your efforts.
Tips for a successful decoy pattern layout when pigeon shooting
- You should keep modifying the decoy pattern while factoring in wind direction and cover.
- Ensure that your kill zone is around 25 to 30 yards from your hide.
- The sides of the u-shaped configuration should be about 30 yards wide to provide an ample landing field for the pigeons.
- You should always get the wind at your back.
- The decoys you use should be angled towards the wind with slight variations.
- You can include dead pigeons while being careful not to overcrowd or make the decoy pattern patchy.
Benefits of Pigeon Decoys
- They are effective
Pigeon decoy shooting is among the best methods to get rid of pigeons effectively. This is because it is relatively permanent. By shooting the birds, you get rid of them completely.
Other methods such as netting, bird spikes, and repellent gels tend to work for a limited time. Pigeon decoys, on the other hand, enable you to get rid of the birds permanently.
- They are a great value for money.
Most pigeon decoys available in the market are pretty affordable. The prices differ based on the models, but finding one that works best for you is not hard. Pigeon decoys are quite durable and can be used again and again.
Pigeon shooting is seasonal. The decoys seem to be more successful when used during summer when the crops are thriving and the pigeons cannot stay away. You can use your pigeon decoys during summer and store them until the following summer, which saves you money in the long run.
- They make for a good pastime.
Pigeon decoy shooting is a lot more involving than other methods of pigeon population control. Setting up the decoys is an art form that takes time to master. This can be an excellent pastime for people who enjoy shooting birds for leisure or even hunting.
Tips on Choosing the Right Pigeon Decoys
Type of pigeon decoy
There is a wide selection of pigeon decoys available in the market. As such, it can be quite challenging to find the right fit for you. Each type comes with a set of features that gives it an advantage and sets it apart from the rest. The several types include plastic decoys, painted shell decoys, full-bodied decoys, flock-coated decoys, and even neoprene decoys that can be folded and set up in different poses.
The full-bodied pigeon decoys are the most realistic, but they are relatively bulky, so carrying them around can be tiresome. How you plan to transport the pigeon decoys determines which type you go with. A good tip is to use a variety of decoys to take advantage of the unique set of features that comes with each type.
Your budget is also another important consideration to make when choosing a pigeon decoy. Full-bodied versions are arguably the most effective, but they are also slightly costly.
You should select a quality pigeon decoy that gives you value for your money. Do not compromise on quality to save money if you can afford it.
You should also consider the weather. Some pigeon decoys require wind for movement, while others come with features such as batteries that enable the decoys to move realistically even on a calm day.
Some are also designed to survive harsh weather conditions, while others are more suited for use in summer only. This is an important thing to consider before purchasing decoys to ensure you pick the most suitable.
How to Set up the Pigeon Decoys for Shooting
Your pigeon decoy pattern is just as crucial as the decoys themselves. Pigeons are intelligent birds, and if your pattern is off, they will not fall for the trap.
You should take some time to do some reconnaissance before beginning the decoying process. You should watch the birds for a while, determine their flight patterns and some of their favorite spots. The intel you gather will go a long way in helping you set up the decoys.
Traditionally, you should set up the decoys in a ‘U’ pattern, but the pattern actually depends on the day. This is because wind direction changes every day, which is a crucial element to the success of the process.
Face your decoys into the wind because birds generally do not like the wind blowing them from behind. You should ensure your decoys look as natural as possible. For starters, they should not all face the exact same direction. Angle them differently to give them a realistic appearance.
Other Key Determinants of Decoying Success
- Hide Construction
Set up the decoys and stand in plain sight. You will find a vantage point to shoot from. Feel free to use either a natural cover or construct a hide that way you will be in the right position to shot.
Your position should be close to the incoming birds. Using camouflage netting is one of the easiest ways to construct a hide.
The net can be draped over a bush or stretched across several fence posts. You can also choose to weave in some natural material to add cover and blend in.
Proper gear is essential to pigeon decoy shooting. Pigeons are easily spooked, and just the flash of a face or any slight movement will have them flying away in microseconds. Additionally, they have excellent eyesight and can spot movement from a huge distance. Camouflage kits will help you dress appropriately to avoid ruining your plans.
Is it Legal to Shoot Pigeons?
You should know your birds in order to ensure you do not unknowingly break the law by shooting protected species. Luckily, in America, it is legal to shoot pigeons, provided you have a hunting license.
However, be sure to check with your state because some states prohibit pigeon shooting as it is considered animal cruelty.
In the UK, as of April 29th, 2019, there was a new law put in place that withdrew open general licenses. As a result, it is illegal to shoot pigeons, Canada Geese, and crows without specific permission. Ensure you familiarize yourself with the laws of your area of residence before attempting to shoot pigeons.
How to Attach Pigeon Decoys to Branches
One of the easiest ways to attach pigeon decoys to branches is using wire. Some of the decoys come with eyelets that enable you to easily secure them to branches and wires.
Some pigeon decoys come with base spikes that go into the ground. These are mostly the ones that do not rely on wind for movement.
Pigeon decoy shooting is an effective method of getting rid of pigeons. This is a skill that might take some time to master, but once you learn the ropes, it can make for quite a good pastime. Before you go out and start purchasing gear, ensure you are familiar with the laws regarding pigeon shooting in your area.