Shotgunners will now be out in full force, but airgun hunters can also grab a piece of the action, using the same decoying methods to attract woodies within range. Obviously, you need to build a suitable hide within range of an established flight line and feeding area. I also advise using a quality PCP air rifle with silencer and certainly recommend using full camo wear, including covering the hands and face, so that nothing can ‘catch’ the eye of these very wary birds once they land amongst your decoy pattern. With that said - the following is a selection of peripheral kit that you’ll find very useful to have!
With enough room for all the kit you need and for carrying quarry off the field, Napier’s Advantage Timber Ranger 4 is a great option. Manufactured from soft, silent, and tough HUSHTEX™, it has a 60L carrying capacity accommodated for by two main compartments, a 15L zipped base with a 45L main compartment above. In addition, there’re two large side pockets, a top flap pocket and one smaller front one. These all have a heavy-duty zipped closure and add a further 13L bringing the total up to 73L. The main compartment has a double drawstring closure and secures externally with two adjustable straps with snap buckles. There are several accessory straps for attaching larger items. Due to the size - it doesn’t use the moulded rubber base as other Ranger models. It does however have a pair of well-padded shoulder straps, adjustable lumber panel, waistband and sternum straps. All fasten securely with QD buckles. Even when fully loaded, it sits high on the back and the padding and lumber support take the weight off the lower back, therefore making walking easier and you don’t over-burdened!
Walking to your shooting position will invariably mean you’ll cross over a wide variety of terrain, so correct footwear is important and the Ridgeline Warrior EXP Hunting Boot is a winning candidate. Manufactured from full-grain waxed leather treated to a waterproof outer, this high leg design has a Hydro Guard membrane and a generous Thinsulate insulating liner. All metal lace retainers are weather resistant and shows four sets of fixed, hinged eyelets with four pairs of speed hooks above. There’s also a ‘lace guide hasp’ set approximately half way up the generously padded tongue. A feature of the hinged eyelets is to allow the boot to articulate inwards and outwards, so when they are tightened they help draw the boot more securely and evenly around the instep and sides of the foot and gives extra flex for comfort. The rugged build transfers down to the thick and deep cut outer sole which also shows a full rubber rand. This gives extra protection at the toe and heel – just above this is a ‘flex panel’ for wearer comfort. The aggressive cleat of the rubber, composite, Hyper Grip outsole gives a high degree of traction on a variety of terrain and is easy to clean!
Although the pattern of your hide netting should suit the backdrop it’s built against, many hunters prefer to wear camo clothing suited to the stubble fields when shooting over decoys. A pattern ideal for this is Jack Pyke Wildlands. It’s best described as a being a blend of ochre, fawn and even off white colours incorporated with a leaf and bulrush stem patterning. My favoured set-up would be the Hunters Jacket and Trousers, and Stealth Baseball Cap – not forgetting to add a full faceveil and gloves of choice for a complete cover up. Jacket and Trousers are manufactured from Stealth Fabric, which is breathable, waterproof and silent. The outershell is 100% Polyester brushed tricot with a laminated membrane. The lining is 100% Polyester with brushed mesh and taffeta. The jacket features a full-length, double zip opening with storm flap, concealed hood in the high storm collar, pockets consists of; two lower front bellows with cartridge holders, two hand warmers, 1 internal chest and a fold down seat flap at the rear. The cuffs have elasticated weather shrouds inside the Velcro adjustable fasteners. The over-trousers have a reinforced, wide elasticated waist band with inner draw cord and toggle adjuster. There are two upper pockets with weather flaps, two more on the sides with flaps and press stud fastening. 14” leg zips allow you to easily slip into them without removing boots. Velcro adjusters allow you to cinch them at the ankle they’re reinforced at the seat and knee. Jack Pyke Hunters Jacket and Trousers, and Stealth Baseball Cap (Wildlands camo)
While the shotgunner often has to stand to take shots at birds on the wing, the airgun hunter can sit comfortably as they wait for a bird to land. Therefore, an easy to transport shooting chair with a backrest is a much better option over the traditional style pigeon shooters ‘bucket-seat.’ Quake’s Stag All Terrain Seat (ATS) is manufactured from toughened ABS and weighs approximately 2.9 kg. It cleverly packs down forming an easy to carry package, as the backrest folds in and the four telescopic legs slide into the base. To assemble the ATS, you first detach the ‘sprungclip’ attachments at the top of the legs, which enable them to be slid out of their storage channels, then slotted into four integrated brackets, using the same ‘sprung-clips’ to hold them securely in place. The back-rest simply ‘folds-out’ and the legs adjust from 16 to 23 ½” giving a comfortable sitting position and compensating for uneven ground. The seat has a padded cushion and comprises of a lower and an upper disk with a silent swivel bearing in between, so you can turn noiselessly in any direction - the back rest is attached to the upper, so turns with you.
A multi-tool is always a useful piece of kit to have, especially a fully featured model, as you’ll often need to cut back undergrowth and the like while preparing your shooting position. The all-stainless, Leatherman SuperTool 300 weighs 272-grams and measures 11.5cm in the closed position. All ‘extensional’ tools are held on the inside of the handles meaning you have to open the ‘300’ to access them. This is no hardship, as once a tool is deployed, you close the tool back up and you have a very chunky pair of handles to hold. In plier mode, you have needlenose, regular pliers, replaceable hard wire cutters, electrical crimper and stranded wire stripper. The other tools are an 8cm, fine edge, clip point and serrated edge knife blades, wood/metal file, small, medium and large slot head screwdrivers, medium size Phillips head screwdriver, can opener, bottle opener, large awl (with thread loop), wood saw and a lanyard hole attachment point. All tools have thumb nicks or lugs for ease of deployment and it carries the Leatherman 25-year warranty and comes with a black ballistic nylon molle pouch. There’s also a Black Oxide finish model available. Leatherman SuperTool 300 £89.95p Stainless, £103.95 Black Oxide Finish www.whitbyandco.co.uk
For this sort of work you’ll welcome a compact scope that offers a wide field of view because you’ll need to quickly find the bird in your sights when it’s landed. The best by far is the MTC Optics Viper X Connect 3 – 12 X 32 famous for its amazingly wide field of view - approximately double that of a ‘standard’ optic set on 10x magnification. At 287mm long with a 30mm body tube, it features side parallax, low profile ¼” MOA cover capped turret adjusters, 12-level rheostat control, fast focus ocular with detachable rubber eye-piece extender plus an integral cap for the objective lens. Image quality is superb, and is available with either MTC’s multi-aim-point AMD (Advanced Mil-Dot) reticle or the SCB2 (Small Calibre Ballistic). Its nitrogen-purged, water, fog and shockproof. Hardly surprising with so many useful and unique features that it’s quickly become one of the most popular optics for close to medium range airgun hunting. The only downside is your eye is right on the rear of the focus ring, which might not suit you! MTC offers another version - the 3 – 12 X 24 SL. Which offers a smaller, 24mm objective, so giving a slimmer line (SL).
Due to the saddle and rheostat control being ‘crammed’ onto the MTC X Connect’s short body tube, plus the optic having to be set on the rifle for ‘zero’ eye-relief; can cause mounting problems. However, there’s a dedicated mount designed for it called ‘ConnectaMount.’ Manufactured from aircraft grade aluminium, the black anodised one-piece design has a double screw front and single strap rear ring. The top cradle of the front double screw mount has a 30mm long run of Weaver/Picattiny style mount rail allowing you to fit a gun light or laser.
Thermos flasks & mugs
It goes without saying that a hot (or cold) drink and food are necessities for any hunter in the field. Stanley offers a range of insulated flasks, food jars and insulated mugs. Flasks are available in 0.47L, 0.74L, 1L and 1.3L – the larger two having foldaway handles, while the smaller pair does not. For foods such as soup or chilli you can use their 0.5L Classic Food Jar. All are manufactured using 18/8 rustproof (BPA free) stainless steel, with a green hammered tough finish. Contents are kept hot or cold for 24hrs, while the Food Jar is capable of keeping suitable food items hot for 12hrs. Their Classic One Hand Vacuum Mugs can be used one-handed; squeeze a button in the lid to open the mouthpiece, to allow liquid to flow through the top. Releasing it seals it again keeping your beverage and its temperature sealed inside. There are two sizes - 0.35L keeping liquids hot for 4 hours and cold for 20, while the 0.47L mug will keep drinks hot for 6 hours and cold for 24 hours.
Anything that enables faster access to adjust the ‘side-focus’ dial of an optic is a very useful asset in any type of hunting scenario. This is where ‘retro-fit’ specialists Rowan Engineering Ltd.’s dedicated PA Lever comes into play. CNC machined using 6082 grade Aluminium it ‘slips’ straight onto the outer edge of the side-focus turret and secures with two, recessed hex head grub screws. The handle extends approximately 30mm out from the turret offering easy-operation, plus it also doesn’t hinder removal or replacement of the magazine system on any multi-shot PCP. Rowan produces similar levers to fit other specific models of MTC, Hawke Sports Optics and Nikko Stirling models. Available in natural or black anodised aluminium.
A pellet with a real pedigree for accuracy is needed for this type of hunting and at the top of many airgunner’s list should be the Webley Accupell. A classic domed (roundhead) design it’s available in the two major calibres of .177 and .22. The former weighing 7.9-grains, while the latter being 14.3-grains. A very accurate pellet, it flies true and hits hard at the target. Both are available in strong screw-top tins of 500.
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