Alastair Robertson: After the storm, the pigeon shoot

Alastair Robertson - bye-line pics for Scotsman Magazine... picture by Donald MacLeod 14.01.07
Alastair Robertson - bye-line pics for Scotsman Magazine... picture by Donald MacLeod 14.01.07
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We had a monsoon the other night. Sheets of rain going on in three directions all at once. Lightning, thunder, the lot. Never seen the like, as they say. The downside, for my neighbour, was that his winter barley went flat.

The upside for us is that it brought in the pigeons. They like a nice flat pecking area.

As it happened our sporting ally, Alf, had an invitation to go and fish in Norway, so he had dropped round all his camouflage netting, plus an incredibly natty little extending stool with a completely unnecessarily camouflaged seat (how are the pigeons going to see it if you’re sitting on it?) which makes sitting in a hide, if not a joy, than considerably easier than having to get up from a crouching level to firing position.

We set up the hide in the shadow of a row of trees I had planted 30 years ago on what I didn’t know then was the old short cut down to the kirk. But no one complained. At least not to my face.

And just for good measure we got the “pigeon magnet” – a battery driven whirling device with a decoy on the end of each arm – set up in a largish flat section of the barley, about 30 yards out.

We also considered – but didn’t use – setting up one of those bird scarers attached to a smouldering rope, in the far corner of the huge field to shift the birds if they started settling in “the wrong barley”.

As I had a funeral to sort out I left our middle son, who is the keen shot, to get on with it with Waffle in attendance.

Fortunately Waffle doesn’t mind pigeons. Some dogs really don’t like picking pigeons. 
It’s the fluffy feathers, or possibly they don’t 
have the right gamey smell. But Waffle is fine. She obviously hasn’t been shooting much since the end of the pheasant season in January. So with the first shot she took off after a still flying bird. But from thereon in she was fine: sitting beside the boy all aquiver, head up scanning the skies.

She came back with all six pigeons from the barley, including a couple of runners, but oddly never found the two behind him in an open grass park. The next morning though she got them. So Waffle done good.

We had the six that night, the breasts wrapped in prosciutto and fried in the Venetian style with sage on top of a very hot Aga; three minutes one side and two the other, although I think we could have gone an extra minute on the second side. Yum yum. n