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Newsgroups: rec.hunting
Date: Tue, 20 May 1997 13:44:15 -0400
Subject: Re: Shotguns & Pigeons

> <> wrote:

> >While the best clay shots achieve perfect scores, the best
> >live-released-pigeon shots only down something like 80 per cent of
> >birds. I am assuming that since 100 per cent are hit, 20 per cent
> >are hit but only wounded (some will deflect shot off their plumage
> >I know). In reality, this is going to mean a lingering death for
> >some.

> Funkraum;
> First of all I should admit that I have never participated in, nor
> seen an actual live pigeon competition. All information I have about
> this practice is anecdotal, and second hand.

I've never competed in them either, but I have shot a pantload of pigeons in my
time.  I refer you to for

> I have a question though, about this contention that approximately
> 100% of the birds are hit but 20% or so fly off to die a lingering
> death. Unbdoubtedly some birds do die in this manner, but I doubt it
> is anywhere near 20%.

In my experience a pigeon is about as tough a bird as there is.  All birds are
hard targets (by which I don't mean "hard to hit," I mean "hard to kill")
because of the way they are made, but pigeons have to be at the top of the
list.  Off hand--I'd have to llok at my logs to be sure--only about 1/3 to at
most 1/2 of the birds I'd hit solidly enough to knock down were dead on hitting
the ground, and then only if I were using stiff charges (!-1/8 or more) of
reasonably large shot (#6 for preference).  The other half to two-thirds had to
be finished off when picked up.  The only way to be dead certain of a stone
kill in midair is to hit the bird in the head or upper neck, and preferably
from close range.

Pigeons can fly remarkable distances with mortal wounds. I have had them take
hits, seem feathers fly in profusion, and keep on going, wobbly but still
airborne, well out of sight.  This happened enough when I started shooting
pigeons to make me very circumspect about shot presentations that were not
head-on or rising-going-away; a crossing shot at much over 20 yards, if using
the typical #8 shot recommended for pigeons by people who haven't shot many of
them, would result in a cripple and an escapee at least half the time.  In
short, you have to kill them dead in the air, or break a wing badly enough so
that they come down, or you have lost them.

> I guess my question is whether or not this 80% figure is derived from
> the the recorded scores in these competitions? If so, that would
> overstate the number of birds that are wounded and fly off to die a
> lingering death. Having had some experience in dove shoots, I have
> seen many birds fly 100, 200 yds and even further, then immediately
> crumple to the ground, stone dead. In a competitive live pigeon shoot
> any bird killed this way would be a miss.

I can't claim an 80% hit rate--especially now that I'm out of practice, but I
can lay some claim to 50%, almost always bringing to bag at least half as many
pigeons as shells fired.  If live pigeon shoots are scored in the way you
suggest--birds that fall outside a certain circle are "missed" by fiat, that
complicates things.  However, I have also shot a few doves, and while they
**may** be tougher to hit than pigeons, they certainly don't take anywhere near
as much killing.

The Elitist

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