Ransford, K. describes his Record Bag
Shooting Times and Countryside Magazine.
22 August 1970, page 25.

This article describes events close to Chirbury Hall (SO262986), where K. Ransford lived, north of Church Stoke and over a mile inside Shropshire.

NOTE. The photocopy of this article is so poor that it has been necessary to transcribe the text. Regrettably the photograph with the article will not reproduce here.


On January 10, 1962 Major Archie Coats killed 550 pigeons in one day. This record has now been broken by the author. Ed.

For the past 50 years my father has been a very successful pigeon shooter, so that with the benefit of his experience, home made decoys and portable hides, I have had every opportunity since I was quite young, of shooting very large bags of pigeon.

From early July I had noticed pigeon feeding on a 16 acre field of wheat alongside the main road. Two or three times each week I passed this field, and always stopped and clapped my hands, to see what number of pigeon would rise from the areas which were laid. Each time between 50 and 150 rose. I felt they were not really worth bothering about. Also all the laid corn was in the middle of the field and it would have been difficult to make a hide, Each time I noticed that the farmer had hung more coloured polythene bags about the field, until the whole of the laid area looked like a fairground, nevertheless some pigeon continued to use the field.

The farmer telephoned me a number of times and asked me to shoot them. After the third request, I suggested that he cleared all the coloured bags and the automatic bird scarer from the field and put 17 straw bales in the middle.

On Wednesday July 22 I arrived at the farm at about 1.30 p.m. and immediately saw a considerable number of birds using the field. The farmer was on holiday, but two of his men helped me to carry my decoys and cartridges to the heap of bales. I quickly made a very comfortable hide and left one bale to sit on. I always take trouble in putting out my decoys, and I was able to set them out in such a way that the decoyed birds would come head on to the hide.

There was a very strong wind blowing although it was a bright sunny day. Before the men went back to their work, they took the Land-Rover and put scarecrows on adjoining fields of wheat, where a few pigeon had been feeding. One was placed on the near side of the actual field I was in. This prevented any birds settling before they saw the decoys.

Immediately I was in the hide, and before I had loaded my gun, pigeon were over the decoys, and well in the killing area. In the first half an hour of shooting I fired 100 cartridges from my bag. In the following hour I fired a 250 boxfull.

By this time one of the farm men had arrived and I immediately sent him to collect another 500 cartridges from the Land-Rover. He came and sat in the hide and loaded for me, for now the barrels of both guns were becoming unpleasantly warm.

The pigeon using this particular field were traveling considerable distances.  The previous day my father had shot 170 pigeon on the same estate, and had noticed the continual stream of birds flying high over his decoys, obviously making for this field of wheat a mile down the valley.

Nearly every pigeon that came to the field decoyed, many dropping from a great height. The continual shooting never deterred them in the slightest degree as the strong wind muffled the sound of the shots. Pigeon were in the air over the whole time, coming from all directions, the wind guiding them into the decoys.

By about six o'clock the whole of the decoyed area looked like a blue and white carpet, with the dead birds lying in all positions. This did not alarm those which were still coming. However I did use my choked gun most of the last two hours, because the decoyed birds were circling very wide, and many were shot at over 40 yards.

I finally stopped shooting at 6.50 having fired 690 cartridges. Just as I had finished shooting, a friend Bryan Owen, and his brother returned to help me pick up, along with a farmer's son from a nearby farm who had heard the continual shooting.

This summer I have had a new pair of barrels made for my favourite gun. I have had them bored full choke both barrels, and I have found that this makes picking up pigeons over standing corn very much easier, for it greatly reduces the risk of only wounding birds.

Before we began to collect the dead birds we picked up the decoys, many of which had been knocked over by the falling birds. In the immediate area in front of the hide we picked 469 pigeon before I allowed the dogs to work.

I drove the Land-Rover into the field to save the long carry to the hedge with the dead birds etc. While I was away the other men circled the adjoining fields and looked under every tree and bush for birds which had left the shooting area wounded.  They returned with over 40 birds.

For over an hour I worked the dogs systematically round and round the hide through the standing wheat. I always find that dead pigeons which fall into standing grain are very difficult to find, even with very experienced dogs.

Whenever I shoot pigeon over standing corn I keep an accurate count of kills and misses, putting the empty cartridge cases in separate bags. After counting the empty cases I was fairly certain that I had killed just over 600 pigeons, but at times during the afternoon the shooting was so rapid that it was difficult to direct the empty cases to the respective bags.

Before the final pick-up was complete the headkeeper arrived and helped to bag and count the dead birds. The final pick-up was 561. There were only five stock doves in this very large bag. On the following days farm men noticed the odd dead pigeon under trees on other parts of the farm.

During the past two years I have noticed an increase in the number of pigeon in this area, the Shropshire/Montgomeryshire border. In February and March this year, we shot very large numbers of pigeons coming to roost in the various woods. One evening I shot 97 in three-quarters of an hour.

We have wonderful co-operation from landowners, farmers, and keepers. Many telephone us when pigeon are doing damage to crops, and I have never yet been refused permission to shoot them.

I have read a great deal about the use of narcotics to reduce the numbers of pigeon, I understand that this is very expensive and also that other birds are likely to be killed. If the powers-that-be are to continue with these drugs surely they ought to provide subsidised cartridges for bona fide pigeon shooters. In July this year we have shot 2,403 pigeons in ten part days.