Patterns for success

PUBLISHED: 15:06 04 February 2010 | UPDATED: 15:06 28 November 2012

Patterns for success

Patterns for success

Our expert pigeon shooter Fred Luke writes..


Our expert pigeon shooter Fred Luke writes...


Many people ask me what is the best pattern to use, and I tend to give the same answer – the one that best suits what you are doing. Decoying on a very windy day where the birds are keeping low can call for one pattern, while a calmer day needs another. I’d never suggest decoying on a totally windless day as I’ve found that it always turns out to be a waste of time.

The U-shaped horseshoe pattern (above) is tried and tested and it works in most situations, but you can always try something different if you want, to suit a particular situation.

Imagine you are setting up your hide against a hedge over which you know crosses a flightline, on a very blowy day. I might use a long leg on one side of my horseshoe to try and draw them in.

An L-shaped pattern (above) can work well. The long leg of the L running parallel to the hedge acts as a roadway, while the short side joining the hedge acts like a stop sign.

It’s important that your pattern is visible above any standing crop. I always carry a few cradles with me for dead birds or deeks so the birds really do stand out. If I’m setting up dead birds I use a few short sticks to prop their heads up.

Some people say that long straight lines on a decoy pattern don’t look natural, and that each decoy should be facing roughly into the wind in a direction a few degrees different to the next deek. I strongly disagree with both points. The decoys are there as a road for the birds to follow to your chosen landing area; whether the lines are ruler-straight or a little wobbly really doesn’t matter.

People often ask where to put flappers and whirlys. Well, I always put my whirly at the head of my pattern, just ahead of the spot where I want the birds to land. I put flappers out on the end of a leg of the horseshoe, usually the one furthest out into the field to maximise the chances of them being seen. And I put floaters towards the rear of the horseshoe, so that they point the way to the landing area for any incoming birds.

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