Another starling & pigeon shoot
Yesterday Wade and I made our annual air rifle shooting trip back to "The Farm". Each year security is getting tighter and this year I had to call in advance to get a visitor's pass, check in at the west gate and carry the visitor's pass in the truck. It was about 35*-40*F and raining all day with a low overcast sky and intermittent fog.
We took Wade's Dodge Mega-Cab as it's the best rig ever to shoot out of. LOTS of space and large power windows. We each took our .22 Mrods with Leapers 3-12 scopes, air tank, hand pump, tins of pellets, lights for indoor shooting, lunch, etc. Wade brought his .22 Mendoza springer and I brought my .22 D-34.
We left about 8:15 and got there a bit after 9:00. As usual starlings were everywhere as far as you could see. Billions? of them. We parked about 30 yards away from the waste food pile and set up the Mrods. 32 yards to the left end of the pile, 26 yards to the middle and 31 yards to the right end. Easy air rifle range especially with our Lothar barreled, highly tuned guns. Our plan is like usual, we would alternate shots. One person spotting the easiest shot while the other person shot. Doubles, and occasionally triples, were always on our watch list. A bird that was only visible from the shoulder up (head shot) was a bonus target: if you hit it you could shoot another out of turn. That happened lots of times. After about an hour of shooting the starlings were getting skittish and hover over the food pile, obviously not wanting to land and the shooting slowed noticeably. That is our cue to go pick up the dead ones leaving a clean pile for them to feast on. I put on my mud boots, latex gloves and took out a trash bag while Wade reloaded our mags and aired up our Mrods. 65 dead ones and another 10-12 that were confirmed hits but ran or flew off to die. Normally they stop landing after about 15-20 dead ones are on the pile but today was different for some reason. We got back in the truck and shot for about another hour, which resulted in another 44 dead starlings. The 3rd time was 35. We took a short break, turned the heater on, ate lunch and drove over to a concrete bunker. This gave the birds time to "clear their heads" and get back to landing.
The concrete bunker was interesting. It is a 1950's? era bombing test range bunker. 12" thick concrete walls and ceiling with no windows. Very solid. The large steel door had been open for who knows how many years. Pigeon poop everywhere. You could hear them cooing inside. We went in with battery powered shop lights and caos ensued. I stayed at the doorway with a kid's tennis racquet trying not to let any escape while Wade went in with his tactical Mendoza (a chunk of rail with a light on it makes it tactical, right?). A handful escaped the doorway but Wade killed the rest in a matter of 5 minutes.
We then drove back to the waste food pile and had two more rounds of starling shooting. On the 3rd or 4th cleanup of the pile I was walking on the potato/veggie pile like normal and stepped on a section of rotten French fries and sunk down to nearly my knees. It was like quick sand. Any movement caused me to sink deeper. I called to Wade for help and he was there in a hurry. It was too soft for him to just yard me out of the goo. He had to find some stiff cardboard tubes that were mixed in with the food pile, lay them out parallel like a board and stand on them for flotation. He the strongest guy I know and grabbed me around my armpits and leaned back to pull me out. Rotting food on my pants, some down my mud boots. Yuck. How do the birds eat this stuff?
Each successive shooting session at the waste food pile resulted in a lower starling count. We ended up with 220 dead starlings in the trash bag and nearly ripped the bottom out of it.
After we had decided to leave the waste food piles we were driving out and noticed some pigeons sitting on a concrete wall with a large mound of earth behind it as a backstop. Wade rolled down his window and I rangefound the closest one at 63 yards. Whop, down it went. He then shot another 8-9 in succession, each one a few yards further, with the last one being 87 yards. One miss. Fantastic shooting.
Right at dusk we were leaving but decided to stop at an old, run down steel shed that has had pigeons in it in the past. Nobody uses that shed as there are holes in the walls, the gates are off their hinges, pigeon poop everywhere, etc. We could hear them cooing inside. We turned our springer mounted lights on and went in. It was a madhouse and we had to be careful about ricochets hitting each other.
At the end of the day we had 220 dead starings in the bag and 40 pigeons which we left there for the hawks, owls, coyotes, etc. to eat. There were also lots of starlings that ran or flew off mortally wounded. This farm is so large and populated with starlings that we didn't even put a dent in their population.