Late autumn is a prime season for hunting with airguns – Mat Manning shares 10 top tips to help you make the most of it.
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1. Woodland banquet
There should still be lots of fallen acorns and beech mast strewn across the woodland floor. Areas where this rich harvest is most abundant create real hotspots for grey squirrels and woodpigeons.
2. Feeding station frenzy
Nature’s autumn crop of nuts and berries won’t last forever. Set up a feeding station loaded with peanuts when wild food starts to dwindle and you can expect to attract lots of hungry grey squirrels.
3. Prime times
Dawn and dusk are prime times for encountering quarry at this time of year – especially grey squirrels. They get very hungry during the long nights, so expect to find the rodents out on their feeding sprees just after daybreak and just before sundown.
4. Amazing maize
Keep a very close eye on maize stubbles if you have any on your ground. Leftover cobs attract a lot of pests, including crows and pigeons.
5. Autumn drillings
Farmers often sow cereal crops at this time of year, and these can be great areas to target when pigeons and corvids home in on any grain that’s been left on the surface.
6. Disappear with a hide
With less natural cover around you may have to build a hide to keep concealed. Set up your camo net against a hedge or tree trunk and dress it with weeds to help it blend in.
7. Pulling birds
Decoys are a great way to boost your bag when carrying out crop protection duties. A flock of imitation crows or pigeons will help to convince the real birds that it’s safe to return – hopefully within range of your hide.
8. Nocturnal bunnies
As daylight hours reduce, rabbits become more and more active after dark, so night sessions can be very productive. A digital day/night scope like the ATN unit Mat is using here is a great way to extend your field time right around the clock.
9. Farmyard rats
Rats will start to move in off the fields and on to farmyards in search of food and shelter as natural pickings decrease and the weather turns cold. After-dark forays can be very productive.
10. Don’t discount lamping
You don’t have to miss out on night-shooting opportunities if you can’t justify the expense of NV or thermal optics. A gun-mounted lamp is much more affordable and this simple tactic still works as well as ever.