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Question by ltmssbb. Uploaded on May 12, 2009
someone wanna take this guy snipe huntin?
Well you have to be heavily armed, that's for sure. And very few people ever see them when not hunting for them.
A small brown marsh bird that has a long bill. Looks exactly like a woodcock only smaller. They migrate south in the fall and are common around Florida marshes in the winter. They feed on bugs and worms they get by probing the long bill in the mud. Snipe fly like a corkscrew when flushed and are a very tough bird to hit. When I was a kid I got pretty good at hitting them with my .410. The limit was 8 and one year over several days my take was 17 with one box of shells.
Forgot you hunt them simply by walking them up around the edge of a marsh with mud and short weeds. You won't find them where the weeds are tall or thick. A load of steel #7 shot is just right as lead shot is not allowed these days.
You have to rub yourself down in snipe urine in order to attract them! Watch out they are quick
You have to rub yourself down in snipe urine to attract them. You have to be quick though or you'll miss them. They go great in shake and bake.
they have amazing eyesight and avoid humans. in order to get them in range you might want to put out a couple snipe decoys.
Finally. Someone that realizes that snipe are a real game bird. Thanks Del. Everyone thought I was crazy last time I got into it. Those little buggers really are hard to hit. No chance of me ever hitting that 8 limit.
i DO realize they're a real game bird. i've done my studying on wikipedia long ago. but it's still hilarious to toy with people.
You really want to know! LOL!!
Never heard of hunting them. My buddies and I are going out for some sea gulls this weekend though. Any takers?
Small marsh bird. Hard to tell the difference from a woodcock on the wing. I hunted them in Northern CA, and along some rivers in MI.
Every scout camp I've been to has been rumored to be full of snipes and I hear they can be taken with a pillowcase.
(Photography by Peggy Stone)
(1629 words, 4 pictures)
It was a cool, clear, windy, December afternoon. My wife and I were slogging across a fallow rice paddy near El Campo, Texas. Sticky muck sucked at our boots. My Golden Retriever, Chloe, was in her element.
The field was full of snipe. Due to the weather, the birds held tight. Five or more rose at a time.
Chloe and I heard the wet squawk of the snipe simultaneously. I dropped one at about forty yards. Chloe made the retrieve, while my wife
shot pictures. We were having a great time. For a change, a limit would be relatively easy.
This wasn’t my first snipe hunt. My first hunt was the legendary prank hunt that everyone associates with the word snipe. I was at camp. All of the first year campers, armed with sticks, flashlights, and gunnysacks, were sent to hide in the woods.
The older boys explained the hunt to us. They were the beaters. We were the hunters. They would start down by the lake and drive the snipe toward us.
In hushed tones, they apologized to us for the rumors of bears, snakes, and escaped convicts in the woods. It was, they admitted, only a prank meant to scare the more gullible boys. They reassured us that most of the convicts had already been captured. Besides, they knew that we were too smart and brave to be afraid of such nonsense. Soon we would be veteran snipe hunters like they were.
` We were told to conceal ourselves and wait until we heard the loud crashing of a ‘bull snipe’ in the underbrush. Next, we were supposed to lure one to us by calling “snipe, snipe, snipe.”
When a bird got close enough we should blind it with the powerful beam of our flashlight, subdue it with our stick, and then stuff it into the gunnysack.
There was a prize for the first boy who bagged one, so we were persistent. A couple of the most persistent boys fell asleep in the woods and were returned to camp, hours later, stuffed into their own gunnysacks.
I have fond memories of that camp, and it’s been at least forty years since I had nightmares about waking up in a burlap sack.
Since then I have become addicted to snipe hunting. They are great sport and wonderful to eat. Unlike the nighttime prank hunt of my youth, real snipe hunting takes place in daylight. It’s an aerobic sport, requiring stamina, a large supply of ammo, plenty of drinking water, a keen eye, a good ear, and a trusty dog. No burlap sack is necessary, and flashlights are optional. Persistence is still a virtue.
It was a ‘bluebird’ day, ten years ago, that started it all. Bluebird days are the bane of a duck and goose hunter’s existence. The shooting, if any, starts early and is over quickly. Sure, the birds fly all day, but getting one to decoy is close to impossible. This day was no exception.
Nothing was decoying, except shore birds. They seemed to love our spread. The consensus of opinion and a check of the regulations confirmed that the only shore birds that are legal to hunt are snipe.
I asked if anyone knew what a snipe looked like, but no one did. However, my best friend said that he had a video of shore birds. We retired to his bay house and watched the video. Minutes later, we headed back to the lease for our first snipe hunt.
Just as it was for us, the cure for the bluebird day might be right in front of you, too. The edges of your duck pond, that marsh in the far corner of your lease, or the flooded rice stubble around your blind, may be teeming with small, extremely sporty, and delicious birds, which you’ve overlooked.
The Common Snipe (Gallinago, gallinago), or Wilson’s snipe (Gallinago, delicata), or Jacksnipe (Texas Parks and Wildlife cites all of these names in its hunting regulations) are the marsh dwelling cousins of the Woodcock. They summer in Canada and migrate throughout the lower forty-eight in the fall and winter.
Snipe are long billed brown and white birds with a striped head and an orange patch at the base of their tail. They are just a little bit smaller than a Mourning Dove and are equally delicious. However, their taste in the pan ends their resemblance to doves.
While doves can be tricky to shoot, snipe are several orders of magnitude more difficult. The first difficulty is their habitat. Snipe love muck. Consequently, you must slog through the muck to hunt them. Shooting a limit (eight birds in Texas) frequently entails a two hour (or more) adventure that will leave even the best conditioned hunter panting and covered in sweat.
Morning and evening are the best times to hunt snipe, unless the day is gray, windy, and full of cold squalls of mist, in which case they might be available all day long.
Like doves, snipe are migratory, so they come and go in waves. In Texas, their season usually starts with duck season and extends to the middle of February, giving the snipe hunter plenty of time to cash in.
When you flush snipe, they rise two or three feet off of the ground and issue a raspy squawk that sounds like they are simultaneously saying their name and pulling a boot out of muck. The squawking continues as they light their afterburners and zigzag violently for about sixty or seventy yards. Having reached escape velocity, they rocket straight up, and then circle around to land behind you.
Their squawk, a wet scaaap, scaap , scaap, (the a is like the a in hat) is their most distinctive identifying characteristic in the field. No other similarly sized, or colored, long billed bird sounds even remotely like a snipe. So, if it goes “peep, peep, peep,” don’t shoot.
Frequently, several birds will flush simultaneously. Sometimes, they will delay their rise and not flush until they are almost under foot. At other times, they will flush wild at 40, 50 or even a hundred yards. Now and then, one or two will hold tight only to flush behind you the next time you move, or shoot. Such antics are exciting and make good shooting discipline essential to a safe hunt.
A lucky hunter gets four chances to miss each bird. The first is on the rise: they squawk, just before, or simultaneously with the rise. If your reflexes are good enough, they are still in range by the time you locate them and execute a snap shot. Shooting at them on the zigzag is iffy at best, but hard to resist. Your next best shot is when they go straight up; however, this is often at extreme range. Finally, they often make an overhead pass before landing, just out of range, behind you. This shot is also at extreme range, but they are flying in a straight line, and you’ve had plenty of time to reload.
Usually they fly straight away from you, but several times a hunt a single bird will traverse a line of eight hunters, unscathed, just to teach you humility. It is easy to go one for twelve, or even zero for twenty-five. One for four or five is good shooting, anything less is excellent.
Modified or even improved/modified is a good choke for single guns, and the combo is great in doubles. 1 oz. of #8 lead shot @ 1300 fps is my favorite snipe load, but several of my fellow addicts shoot 1¼ oz. 7½‘s with good results. 1 oz. of #6 steel shot is also deadly and allows you to hunt ducks and geese at the same time.
Snakes also love the fresh water marshes, and flooded stubble fields, that constitute prime snipe habitat. Consequently, essential gear for snipe hunting in Texas includes snake-proof leg protection, worn over hip boots, or waders, as well as your favorite shotgun, at least two boxes of shells, and a set of ammo pouches with a game bag.
Once that you’ve shot one, finding it can be a problem. A good dog helps, but snipe are perfectly camouflaged, and a winged bird may scurry twenty yards, or more, in the time it takes to get to him. So, mark the place where he went down and do a circular search. This technique will often help you find your bird. Watch out for snakes when you reach for a bird.
Snipe are tough to shoot, live in a hard to get to place, and downed birds are difficult to find. In spite of, and because of, these challenges, I love snipe hunting. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy. And eating snipe instantly reminds you that pursuing them is extremely worthwhile.
Snipe should be treated like pieces of prime beef and cooked rare, or at most medium rare. Cooked lightly they are succulent and delicious chunks of red meat. Cooked too long, they turn into what my brother describes as “little livery things.” Like doves, the only meat is on the breast, and these provide about four bites each. They can be sautéed, grilled, or broiled.
A favorite recipe for snipe is the classic bacon wrapped breast with the body cavity stuffed with half of a fresh jalapeno. Grilled over charcoal or gas these delicious morsels go well with a salad, some sourdough bread, and a glass of Zinfandel. Figure on three to four snipe per person as a main course, and one or two as appetizers.
So, the next time you are stymied by a bluebird day, sitting in your blind, counting the stratospheric flocks, consoling yourself with the thought, “well it’s just good to be out here,” perhaps a snipe hunt is just what you need.
Agreed with Del in KS and + 1 for you sir!!!
The Snipe Hunter website is the best place to go for helpful snipe hunting information. It has been referenced in several snipe hunting articles including one not too long ago in Field & Stream.
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