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Graham The Builder

Straw Rides

These are a few examples of what are known as "straw rides". They are mainly put in place for the pheasant to scratch about in which hopefully keeps them from straying away from the area of your shoot.







This ride is next to our pens which the birds spend a lot of time in scratching about. There is wheat in the feeders positioned above the straw which the birds peck at.



Under the blue sheet is spare straw which we use a lot of.



This is an example of the small type of feeder we use. It takes about one ferilizer bag of wheat which is obtained by the birds via a spring located at the bottom of the feeder - they peck at it and the wheat drops out grain by grain. This type of feeder can be subject to attack from other species such as deer and the dreaded squirrel. The deer have been known to destroy the springs by pulling on them which pulls the coils apart thus causing large amounts of wheat to fall out and you end up with wastage. Squirrels tend to hang upside down and eat the wheat straight from the spring.



The straw was put into place by rolling a large round bale of straw into the woods and then cutting the string and just rolling the bale along until it runs out. A round bale of straw will give you approx. 100ft of straw ride.
Camile

Thanks GTB,

It's a really interesting article with lovely pictures...

how long have you been a gamekeeper for ?

Camile
Graham The Builder

I wouldn't ever class myself as anywhere near a Gamekeeper - my knowledge only extends to that of a mere novice. I am learning though on a yearly basis.
ratman

Another good tip is to put a couple of straw bales on the feed rides and just cut the strings off. Throw a few handfuls of wheat or kibbled maize on the bale and the pheasants have hours of fun scratching the bales apart. Other things like hanging sprouts or kale on baler twine at a height that the birds can peck at can help keep them occupied as well. Anything to amuse them and stop them wandering elsewhere. With the feeders Graham you can either surround them with stock fencing with the larger holes at the bottom so as the birds can walk through or we use to have metal gates tied in a square to allow the birds to walk through but not the deer.
Graham The Builder

We have got spring feeders, letterbox feeders and just simple peck feeders all of which is open to attack from undesired species looking for food. We will be trying the stockproof fence idea this year plus other attempts at trying to outwit the very intelligent, yet tasty, squirrel.

We have got loads of feeders dotted all over our land this year to try and keep as many pheasants as we possibly can. As Ratman will know, you tend to get dominant cockbirds that keep a feeder for themselves and that will scare away all the other birds which can make them wander off your ground looking for food - hence the idea behind loads of feeders.
ratman

The odd dominant cock bird is good sighting practice for the air rifle graham Very Happy Same as the one who appears from last years stock to wander off with a procession of poults in tow.
These birds do more harm than good and best taken out of the equation.
With regards to the squirrels can you tunnel trap them ? If you secure a tunnel and allow a hole in either end just big enough for cyrils then the pheasants should not be troubled by them and you can site these relatively close to the feeders. Another good one is to purchase some Kania traps which can be secured to tree trunks above the reach of pheasants. The squirrel enters the trap heading upwards and once triggered death is pretty instant. I use these traps all the time now and they are terrific
Graham The Builder

We have 72 acres of woodland on our shoot in one big clump which contains a lot of squirrels. We shot nearly 50 within 6 weeks of the shooting season ending which was good sport. Trapping would be a good idea but would obviously need checking once or twice a day - with an air rifle in your hand as a means of dispatching them (and then send the tails of to Snorg Laughing ). I think at the end of this season we may have to buy a few of these traps or have a go at making one. How much is a good trap then, Ratman?
ratman

Kanias are around 30 quid each. They kill instantly so the need to check them would not be the same urgency as a live catch or a fenn where it could be caught by the leg. These kill everytime with a swift blow to the back of the neck. Either that or some multi catch cage traps. I have caught up to 11 squirrels at a time in these.
Calli

ratman wrote:
The odd dominant cock bird is good sighting practice for the air rifle graham Very Happy Same as the one who appears from last years stock to wander off with a procession of poults in tow.


In season of course Wink
Graham The Builder

Multi catch sounds good. It wouldn't surprise me if there was a 1000 squirrels in that wood.
ratman

Calli wrote:
ratman wrote:
The odd dominant cock bird is good sighting practice for the air rifle graham Very Happy Same as the one who appears from last years stock to wander off with a procession of poults in tow.


In season of course Wink


Of course Oct 1st he can have it large Very Happy
Graham The Builder

Straw prices have got very high this year (Slave mentioned this a few weeks ago) and I'm sure that many shoots will cut back on their rides to keep costs down.

Do you use the aniseed stuff for pheasants, Ratman?
ratman

Not necessary if the habitat is good. Can be an advantage but I have had great returns without it. More important is regular feeding of the right stuff. Making sure water is plentiful and the woods are warm and undisturbed. Plenty of toys to play with are essential such as the kale hanging as easrlier mentioned and the hunks of straw they have to peck and scratch around in. A good supply of grit is another good thing to stop birds straying on the roads. Mix shell grit amongst the straw as well. I always released guinea fowl with the poults as they tend to be more homely and good guard dogs, as well as teaching the young poults how to get up to roost and out of harms way.
Graham The Builder

A spot on statement there, Ratman. We have a busy road that borders part of our shoot which prevents us from putting down more birds. They do invariably get onto this road and a few do get knocked over trying to get the road grit for digestion even though our land has got a fair amount of stones in the ground of small enough nature to be benificial to a bird. They can be slightly kamikazi at times though. Rolling Eyes We have got half a dozen guinea fowl to act (just as you said) as gaurd dogs - plus they will also be part of the quarry list after Christmas.
ratman

I used to fine anyone 50 quid who shot them.
A good game to play on a shoot day is first pigeon. Everyone puts a pound in the kitty and the person to shoot the first pigeon gets the pot. It must be after the whistle has gone as anyone shooting one before would be fined the amount in the pot.
Graham The Builder

I think we will be having a 20 fine on shooting a guinea fowl before Christmas - we're a poor shoot. Embarassed Laughing The only competition we have is guess the number of shots. One of the beaters has a counter which he clicks everytime a shot is heard and the person with the nearest guess wins. The shot tally really goes up when some pigeon fly down the line with the result being a twenty one gun salute and another missed bird! Laughing The pigeon compo sounds a good idea though.

With regards to the aniseed powder, we aren't bothering this year because at 25 per kilo which will treat a ton of wheat it is too expensive. And like you said, I don't think it will be neccesary if we have our straw rides and we can retain them with cheaper methods.
donthre

ratman wrote:
.............. Everyone puts a pound in the kitty and the person to shoot the first pigeon gets the pot. It must be after the whistle has gone as anyone shooting one before would be fined the amount in the pot.


I guess that's a few years back then ratty - You'd want it to be at leaset a fiver nowadays wouldn't you ?
Graham The Builder

We only pay a pound - like I said, we're a poor shoot. Laughing
ratman

A pound just keeps it friendly. I am all for a fiver but some people get put off by the extra expense. I went on a day last season where I was a guest and one guy shot a pigeon before the whistle and got truly arsy because he was ruled against. Rules are rules but his greed ruined his day. Why do people have to be like that. It is only a bit of fun.
Bottlewasher

Trapping in costly and time consuming. You are legally required to check each and every trap once in a 24hr time period.

Bait poisoning is extremely cost effect, deadly and quick. No need to check ever 24hrs just top up baiting points once every week.

You could clear out every squirrel you have in that wood within a month. As well as sort out the rats.

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