When ever I go out shooting I have always got a plan of what I am going to do . It does not matter what quarry it is I will always make sure I know exactly what I am doing , where I will be shooting from and I never come home empty handed. The days when I just pick up the rifle and pop out on a local ground has seen the very odd day when I have not been successful but there is no plan and usually its just to get out in the fresh air.This particular day I had planned was to shoot Jackdaws . I had been given permission to shoot on an Estate grounds by my gamekeeper friend . They are usually causing nuisance on the houses trying to nest in the chimneys . I had been the day before and took note of where best to shoot them , I had been asked to keep away from the buildings as there is always someone walking about and there is regular visitors that might be put off with a rifle being used about them . I had watched then for a couple of hours and they seemed to be using a row of oak trees along side one of the big gardens . There was also a few Jackdaws fighting over some nest holes in the trees so this could give me a few opportunities to take some out. In the middle of the trees was a large yew tree in a ditch so that was going to be the spot I would use for a hide giving me a 360 degree view .
That night I had planned on going to bed early and have a very early start . Well that plan went out the window as at 2am I was still lying there trying to imagine how it was going to go and how many I could get. I had set the alarm for a 5 am wake up call so I could get there before light and keep my presence secret . That turned into me waking up and wondering why it was light so early. I checked the phone and it was 6.30 am , how the heck had I managed to sleep through the alarm I thought . Easy I had forgot to press the button to set it.
Now the first part of the plan had gone out the window I decided to go anyway and see what I could salvage from a bad start . On arrival I was greeted by the gamekeeper who pointed out over 60 Jackdaws already perched right above where I wanted to set up. I put my head down in shame and started to get the kit out the car. We had decided to go into the trees together so once I was set up he could walk away and hopefully the Jackdaws would fall for the old trick of thinking there was no one there any more.
With the rapid magazines loaded up and ready we put our plan into action , Off the gamekeeper walked and I just scanned the skies for anything coming back.
Wile I was waiting I put a few more touches to the rifles concealment . When shooting any corvids you can never have to much in the way of camouflage , corvids can spot you a mile off so I will use anything to give me the edge .
Twenty minutes had passed when I heard the cries of Jackdaws in the distance , I could see the odd one perched in the trees some 200 yards away so there was hope of a quick return. I hoped right and within 15 minutes I had a group of 20 in the trees above me . I crept to an opening in the tree I was under and scanned through to scope to see which one gave me a clear shot . To my amazement not one of those jackdaws were in the clear , everyone had branches in front of them . I crept back under the tree and tried to move for another gap but still they were safe. This is frustrating but you have to stay focused and not give yourself away because if anyone of those see you it will be a very long wait until the come back . I stayed still for what seemed an age waiting for one to bounce in the trees just to give me an opportunity to get a clear head shot but it never happened.
A buzzard started to circle around me now and the jackdaws took flight and were joined by a few crows mobbing it , it amazes me how the buzzard does not catch them considering how close the crows get to them but all it wanted to do was fly from tree to tree and ignored their attempts to scare it away. Luckily after 10 minutes the buzzard had been mobbed enough and moved on and the jackdaws started to land again above me.
I switched to the far side of the yew tree now and raised the rapid to scan the tree tops again , this time I got a bead on one of them. I had a nice clear shot on its head and pulled the trigger . Disaster is all I can say for what followed , as I pulled the trigger the whole group had lifted and the one I had shot at did the same and the pellet had hit it in the shoulder area . The jackdaw helicoptered to the floor and from where I was I could see it was still alive . It was not running about , just sitting there looking around so not wasting no time I raised the rapid for a quick follow up shot and finish it off. I was cursing myself over and over but it was one of those things that happen in the real world of pest control. It moved just at the time I pulled the trigger and I could do nothing to stop myself.
I had been under the tree waiting for over 2 hours now and nothing was coming back . I was ready to pack the gear up and head home now as the rain had started . It wasn’t heavy and to be honest I was dry as a bone under the tree but my spirit was down . I was just packing the flask away when I heard the sound of wings above me . I had not seen what flew in so it was another ten minutes of looking in every tree to find it.
It was a lone pigeon , not far away and it was looking away from me so it gave me a chance to poke myself out of the tree to get a clearer shot. I had the cross hairs right between its shoulders and made no mistake dropping it stone dead. I retrieved the pigeon and headed back to my hide tree.
Another half hour had passed when I heard a magpie some 50 yards away , I was looking through the thick tree tops when it flew towards me . I had the rapid shouldered in not time and a nice clear head shot dropped it stone dead to the ground. I decided to pick it up straight away as I had heard nothing more in the area and it was a lucky call . As I stepped out I noticed a squirrel running across a large branch towards some ivy trees , I stood still and watched where it went as I didn’t want it to see I was around .
I decided to creep up the tree line and circle around to where I could get a clear view of the tree it had ran in . I found a nice comfortable spot tucked in a small yew tree and decided to sit it out for a bit . I Was only waiting for about ten minutes when I could see the squirrel moving about in the tree , it was well covered with the ivy but it didn’t know I was hiding some 20 yards away and it was getting closer to the top where it was a little thin on ivy. I had waited a good ten minutes and it still hadn’t come into a shootable position so it climbed out of my hide and started to look around the tree. I could see its tail no problem but its head was covered by a thick branch . I steadied myself and the rifle on a tree and made a clicking noise like I do when sniping rabbits . Its a natural instinct to take a look where the noise is coming from and this usually gives a the perfect head shot . If only things were that easy as this squirrel wasn’t moving. I ended up standing on a twig and the snapping noise made it climb the tree a little and it poked its head over the branch it was on. It was a clear perfect shot and the squirrel went the same way as the previous two pests .
On my way back to the car I noticed some rabbit holes had been cleared out , there were fresh droppings outside it as well . As I was a bit wet anyway I decided to lie in a small ditch and wait for a while and maybe I could shoot a rabbit for the final bag. The jackpyke gear that I had on underneath the LLCS suite is waterproof so I wasn’t worried about the wet getting through to my skin. To cut the story short I spent forty five minutes watching long tail tits , nuthatches and woodpeckers as nothing showed on the warren but I was more than happy to be close the wildlife around me and decided to call it a day.
In the end I managed to salvage what was a very poor day. I didn’t get the quarry I was after and for the time I spent waiting under that tree I think I deserved to bag a couple of extra pests.
When ever you go shooting any one of the corvid family make sure your camouflage is over the top rather than not enough.
Never give your position away , it will be a long wait before anything will come your way .
If you do injure anything that your shooting at make sure you back it up with a quick second shot . It does happen sometimes and it can not be helped.
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