Pigeon hunting

Pigeon hunting

Pigeon hunting

A lot of our hunts can be pretty intense and exhausting. Some elk hunts, by the third day I’m so sore I can hardly crawl out of my sleeping bag. 

You’ll be up two hours before daylight, hiking hard all day scrambling up and down mountains and hit camp well after dark. I love elk hunting, but it’s tough.

So if you need a low key, lotta shooting hunt, check out pigeon hunting. They favor an agricultural type of setting. 

They love roosting in barns and hanging around and eating in feedlots. They make a mess when roosting on the farmers equipment and spread diseases by messing in the feed bunks at feedlots. 

So very seldom will a farmer or rancher turn you away from hunting pigeons on his property. 

Especially if you tell him you’re hunting with airguns. I received two airguns from Pyramid Air (Check out Pyramid Air, I believe they’re the largest airgun dealer in the country).

A Ruger 10/22 Airgun which is the spitting image of its cousin the famous Ruger 10/22. I could not wait to test it out. Who doesn’t love the 10/22? It is the most popular .22 ever made.

The Ruger 10/22 Airgun is a CO2 airgun. It is a pellet gun powered by two 12 gr. CO2 cannisters and comes in the popular .177 cal. It is a plinkers delight.

I also received the GAMO Swarm Whisper. It is a break action .177 pellet gun but is unique in that it utilizes a 10-round rotary magazine. 

If you’ve ever hunted with a break action then you know how frustrating it can be digging a pellet out of your pocket and fumbling it around while the pigeons are in attack mode! The designers at GAMO were ingenious to come up with the clip. I believe they were the first ones to do so on a break action. Look on gunpowdermagazine.com for an upcoming Product Review on the Swarm Whisper.

Katy went with me on this hunt. We sighted in the two airguns and then hit the feedlot. There were more pigeons than I’d ever seen before so the shooting was good.

We hit the barns first but they spooked out before we could drill any. But after spooking out they landed on the nearby silos. We picked off one, waited a few minutes and a few more would land. This repeated itself for 20-30 minutes and then we went out to hit the feedlot.

There were a few Eurasian doves but we didn’t get any of them. But the pigeon shooting was hot. I bet we had well over 100 shots. 

We’d catch them feeding on dropped feed in the alleyways or out feeding among the cattle. With an airgun the cattle never blinked an eye. 

So airguns are a great way to hunt around livestock. There is no loud report to spook the cattle or horses. I’ve shot thousands of times around livestock and never spooked them. Of course as a kid our cattle and horse got shot around so much they never even flinched, much less spooked. They got used to it. 

Of course, after firing a few shots the pigeons started getting semi spooky. But right now, there are a lot of young ones out there so they’re a little slower thinking.

If you decide to grab an airgun and go hunting, I’d recommend a break action. 

They’re more powerful than a lot of other models of pellet guns and with the 10 shot rotary magazine, the GAMO Swarm Whisper is a good choice. 

I would suggest you look at the Swarm Maxxim though since it is available in a .22 cal. The .22 cal. will flatten a pigeon better. And grab some good pellets. Something like the Crosman Premier Ultra Magnum 10.5 gr. pellets.

For whatever reason many people seem to freak out the over the suggestion of eating pigeons. They are just an over sized dove and like I said above, we encountered a lot of young ones on this hunt. So they are more tender than an older bird. The weather is warm right now so it would be smart to take a cooler to help preserve the breast while out in the field. 

I make all of mine into poppers. I slice each breast into 2-3 pieces and marinate in some kind of vinaigrette salad dressing for a couple of hours. I then slice a piece of bacon in half and wrap it around a piece of breast, slice of jalapeño and a slice of onion and wrap it up and pin it together with a toothpick.

 You can fry them in a Lodge cast iron skillet but they are 6x’s better if you cook them on your smoker or grill. Have fun and happy eating.

Tom Claycomb is an outdoor enthusiast and writes a bi-monthly column for the Humboldt Sun.