Many, many years ago I was asked if I wanted to go snipe hunting. I was as eager then to do anything outdoor as I am now so of course my answer was “YES”. I started asking all the appropriate questions and in fast succession and short order as young folks do when excited about a new opportunity.
Where are we going to hunt them, when do we leave, what kind of gun do we need, what size shells, how many do you usually kill?
The list of questions was unending I am sure, but it wasn’t until my older uncles started answering my questions that I knew something wasn’t right.
They started saying something about going out late in the night, with a flashlight and a sack. Then you had to make crazy sounds and all sorts of gibberish. I immediately wanted to know how on earth you were supposed to shoot a flying bird at night while holding a flashlight.
This is when I started getting some odd looks from my uncles. Granted, I had never known them to be great hunters of anything, but I thought maybe snipe was their thing. Come to find out they were in the midst of what they thought was going to be a great prank to get a kid in the woods at night and turn him loose.
They had no idea that there was actually a beast called a snipe, much less that it was a migratory bird. In the end, their prank went south and I still didn’t get to go on a snipe hunt. I think we were all a little disappointed.
When looking up a snipe on Wikipedia, the internet’s answer to an encyclopedia, you do get a picture of the somewhat smallish shore bird that is very similar to a woodcock. Read the description further and it immediately tells you that a snipe hunt is known as “the fool’s errand.”
Well you really have to dig hard to find out more information about real snipe hunting. September 1st is the traditional opening of the migratory bird season in West Virginia. One such bird is the Common Snipe. Sora and Virginia Rails are also on the list along with woodcock and morning dove, which are by far the most widely known and hunted migratory birds of the early seasons.
For those of you looking for a humbling experience as a hunter, take to the fields for an early season bird hunt. Even though there may not be many who specifically target the Common Snipe you do see one every now and then.
Most commonly folks are hunting for morning dove, and a snipe might show up, but any bird hunt is a true test of marksmanship. One bit of advice I would give to anyone going on a bird hunt is to take plenty of shells.
Be sure to check the migratory bird hunting regulations that will be available soon because the bag limits for each species vary, but no matter what the limit, take a lot more shells than you have birds to kill.
The action is fast and comes in a flurry with most any bird hunt and you have to be quick. Those birds can really scoot by you in a hurry. If you are lucky enough to harvest a few, they sure do make a fine meal.
No matter which species you are targeting, if you happen upon a snipe, be sure to brag to all your buddies that you went on a snipe hunt and actually got one. Even the innocent bystanders that may overhear the conversation will be amused that anyone went on a snipe hunt, but imagine their surprise when they find out you actually got one!