A typical autumn evening with insistent wind and rain welcomes us at the arrival in the mountains that stand out on the Trompia vally, northern Italy. Waiting for us in his hut in the woods is Stefano Zanetti, a young but experienced collaborator of Poli Armi, a fan of thrush hunting from blinds with his live decoys. A passion handed down in his family, as evidenced by the many images and photos that decorate the walls of the small hut where Stefano's stories come alive in the warm light of the wood stove, igniting our hopes for the next day. It is still dark when we leave the hunting lodge to reach the blind, conditions are optimal, we move under a clear and starry sky thanks to the wind from the north that took away the last clouds. In the dark I recognize Tiziano Poli 's voice, who in the meantime has reached us bringing along the side-by-sides we will use for hunting, a typical 12 gauge Amber, a new 28 gauge Amber and a Lapis Ice in 20 gauge. Just time to greet and we are preparing to put the cages for live decoys in the places established and set up by Stefano. Nothing is left to chance, that's the way blind-hunting is: methodical and careful, the result of much daily work and experience.
Hunting thrushes with Poli side-by-sides
Only at first light I can fully appreciate and enjoy the beauty of the place and the state-of-art hunting site. Trees and bushes are tended by Stefano like a garden, perches for wild birds are fixed in strategic points, soil is cleaned to facilitate the recovery of thrushes, comfort and cleanliness for the decoys in the appropriate accommodation – in short, everything is in the right place. Here this young hunter spends his happy hours and today he decided to share them with us. Inside the
perfectly camouflaged blind
we have the right space to move and observe from the loopholes. The guns are placed in a safe position on raised racks that prevent any accidental contact with them. The call of the decoys fills the silence of the forest and the first thrushes do not hesitate to come closer. The first wild birds are more difficult to spot because of the poor light and because they initially choose to stop on the ground, at the edge of the forest, in the direction of the calls. As the minutes go by, the light radiates through the valley and the silhouettes of the wild birds on the tallest trees are clearly discernible. At each new arrival, Stefano's emotion is palpable – he sees the long preparatory work of his decoys rewarded.
Video: thrush hunting with Poli Amber and Lapis Ice side-by-sides
We take turns shooting with the Poli side-by-sides depending on the shooting ranges that Stefano measured and knows perfectly. The small Amber 28-ga side-by-side allows us to shoot closer and quieter on the bushes or on the ground near the blind. With the Lapis Ice in 20 gauge we can hit the thrushes on the second row of trees, at about 25 meters from the blind, while with the 12 gauge we reach the thrushes and the most suspicious blackbirds that choose the last perches at a distance of 40 meters. For this type of hunting side-by-sides feature a double-trigger system in order to adapt to the barrel choke and the cartridge used. Light and well-balanced, the Poli side-by-sides are easy to swing, a fundamental quality for walked-up hunting, but certainly valuable also in this situation, when aiming through the loopholes. When shooting from a blind, the greater difficulty is in fact represented by taking the shooting stance, that must be quick but at the same time rational and invisible to the wild birds outside the blind. Moving in silence is just as important if you don't want to scare off thrushes and frustrate the work of decoys.
The previous day's bad weather has affected the movement of wild birds, that are not as plentiful as you would expect, but there are pleasant moments of hunting and friendship , emotions that are not to be measured in quantity but in quality, and for this reason at the end of the morning we are fully satisfied with the time spent together and how Poli side-by-sides impeccably did their job.