A small migtory bird in the sky stands out for its tenacity despite its apparent feebleness. It’s the skylark, a gray-tawny coloured passerine, sometimes tending to soil, widespread almost throughout Italy but mainly in the central or southern regions. Excellent training ground for the youngsters who are novice in the art of hunting, such wildfowl is on one hand a primary target for some hunters, while for others it is considered a "fallback". However, only by experiencing the thrill of this hunting, you can understand how intriguing it is due to the emotions and satisfactions which it gives generously.
The skylark is bird which loves flying over the vast meadows heralded by its bubbling warble. And it is there, in wide open fields of very low grass, that the lark appears to then later scamper on the ground seeking sprouts or small worms. It is often not alone but moves with its flock: try to identify its favorite trail corridor as once you find it at the entry, the direction will always remain the same. Being no stranger to the territory is therefore essential because "its favorite runway", as aforesaid, is a free pasture area away from the woods, which could make it difficult to detect it.
Skyark hunting is practiced with two "traditional" techniques: stalking and hunting at fly-up. The first one implies building a hunting blind. Roll up your sleeves, collect dead branches or pieces of vegetation and create your own shed, comfortable if possible to while away time waiting and deceive your prey in a cosy environment. You aren't a skilled builder? We’ll reveal a secret to you: as it is a curious wildfowl in the first days after opening, hide in a bush and use your shotgun to create illusion light tricks; it shall come to you itself. We also remind you that one of the most common calls is the lark mirror, to use in combination with whistle bird callers, carousels, lark decoys or electronic owls. If calm is your strong point, this technique is the best choice.
Otherwise, if waiting motionless is not your cup of tea, we suggest hunting at “fly-up”: walking at a constant pace and crossing pasture sites are the main features of this type of hunting. Dynamism and readiness must be the watchwords: shotgun properly equipped and fast, instinctive shooting; the wildfowl is able to take-off within 15/20 metres to immediately escape the firing range by flying very low.
How to have a sure hit? Let’s get to the point i.e. your shotgun. Regardless of the type of technique you are going to adopt, when it comes to stalking hunting a self-loading or over and under shotgun equipped with mid-length barrels of 66 cm proves ideal if combined with *** constriction sizes for the first and **** / ** for the second one. When hunting at fly-up, we recommend that you opt for a side-by-side shotgun instead, so as to achieve a better responsivenenss as for engagement. All of the above is explained in more detail in the table below which also enshrines gauge-size, weight density of the shotshell and lead shot size.
|Hunting technique||Gauge||Barrel length||Self-loading shotgun||Over and under /|
|Shotshell G.||Lead shots Nr.|
|Stalking hunting||12||66||***||**** / **||30 / 32||10 / 11|
|Stalking hunting||20||66||***||**** / **||21 / 24||10 / 11|
|Stalking hunting||28||66||***||**** / **||18||10 / 11|
|Stalking hunting||.410||71||***||**** / **||14 / 15||10 / 11|
|Hunting at fly-up||12||66 / 71||**||*** / *||32 / 34||10 / 11|
|Hunting at fly-up||20||66 / 71||**||*** / *||21 / 24||10 / 11|
|Hunting at fly-up||28||71||*||** / *||21||10 / 11|
|Hunting at fly-up||.410||71||*||** / *||18||10 / 11|
As regards stalking hunting, it is sufficient to use shotshells with a reduced lead shot size, conversely when it comes to days that are more advantageous for the migratory phase, those in which the wildfowl boasts a playful behaviour, it is more advisable to use shotshells without wad (Bior/felt).
Lark hunting can be considered simple for someone, difficult for others, or an excellent training ground for beginners; however it is always fascinating for anyone who practices it.
I forgot! Thrilling but above all tasty for those who are going to cook it stuffed or spit-roasted.
Our thanks go to Professor Simone Bertini and Diego Apostoli for their availability and the precious time they devoted to us for the drafting of these guides.