Thursday, March 3, 2011

Snipe Hunting! More to me than a practical joke!

All of us have heard the stories about taking some poor helpless non-outdoors type person out into the woods to do a little mythical "Snipe Hunting".  Most of the time you hear of the guilty party giving this helpless soul a sack to bag his prey in and telling him to clap loudly and make funny noises as he walks through the woods.  All the while you and your buddies are back at the campfire trying to contain your laughter as your victim is wondering around in circles, his path easily detected by listening to the outrageous noise he is making.  When he finally gives up and gets back to camp, he is met with good ribbing and he can check "Snipe Hunting" up to a life lesson learned! 

However to me, Snipe Hunting is not a practical joke.  In fact it can be some of the best wing shooting that you can participate in.  I found this out while I was working for East Georgia Turf Farms in Statesboro, Georgia.  I was fresh out of college and took a job with EGTF as a salesman selling sod and golf course construction jobs.  The sod farm was a beautiful farm with large fields of green, green grass always maintained to perfection.  In order to keep this beautiful grass ready for harvest, the irrigation system was run on a daily basis.  This led to drainage ditches that constantly held water, especially in low lying areas.  We even had some low lying small ponds that attracted several species of ducks.  Hunting on the sod farm was a company perk and one that I took advantage of on a weekly basis.  Although ducks and doves were always on my mind, the sod farm was home to another lesser known game bird, the Common Wilson's Snipe.

Snipe like wet areas just like the ones that we had on the farm.  It was not too uncommon in South Georgia to jump a snipe while fishing around one of your favorite ponds, but other than that you just didn't see very many of them at one time.  That was not the case on the farm.  These guys grouped up in groups of 20 or more and could be forced out of their homes by walking irrigation ditches through the fields.  Think shooting quail that have been flushed from a ditch.  They are very quick and dart around your shot pattern with ease, but they are not very smart.  I could walk up a group, fire off a couple of shots and then watch them as they gained altitude just to fly back over me again offering a third shot.  Then they would just fly down the ditch and light on the other end of the field.  Pick up your kills and start walking.  Get the group up again and start the process over.  Easy, peasy, lemon squeasy!  If you could shoot just a little you could get your limit of 15 on any given afternoon.  There were some afternoons when one field would yield my limit.  I have never seen more Snipe in one place than I did on that sod farm.  They were there by the 100's.  It was a blast!!  We had a good time eating them as well.  Batter and fry those bad boys and it was just like eating a small dove.  If you get a chance to chase these little guys, you should definitely do it.  I always thought it to be a combination of quail hunting and dove hunting and what could possibly be better than that?

I was reminded of my Snipe Hunting days by two different things last week.  The first was I jumped one of the little rascals at my Dad's pond while Reid and I were trying to catch a fish.  It scared me to death as it took off across the pond. The second was I read about a Snipe Hunting adventure on "The Maine Outdoorsman". (No link to the actual story because I don't feel like trying to find it again).  He was successful in killing ONE snipe.  It made me realize how lucky I have been with some of the hunting opportunities that I have had in my life.  I had never seen Snipe like that before and I have never seen them like that again.  I just happen to come along when the getting was good and was able to enjoy the chase that God provided.   I had some good days on that farm!  We would get up for an early morning duck hunt, change ammo and hunt snipe until lunch, hit the fields in the late afternoon for some good dove shooting and then hit the creek one more time for a few late arriving Wood ducks.  That is a day in heaven for a wing shooter like myself!!

I haven't killed a Snipe in over 15 years.  Like I said, you just don't see them that often around here, but I still have wonderful memories of the chase that the Wilson's Common Snipe provided!  As my buddy from Down East would say....

God love it!!

5 comments:

The Downeast Duck Hunter said...

Funny how you fall out of doing things, I used to chase rabbits and ruffed grouse. But a change in living arrangements, and moving back home changed all that. I've got to do my research, I've been told there are several nice snipe spots in my area. Very good post man...

DEDH

Ian Nance said...

I haven't been in a while, but I do enjoy snipe hunting. Immensely!!!

Steve said...

Trey,

Your story reminds me of the game we forget about, overlook and just don't shoot anymore. I saw 2 jackrabbits and a cottontail together on the road tonight coming home from a game. Thought they'd make a nice stew.

Steve

kmurray said...

That sounds like great fun!

I have to admit never seen a snipe before, although in high school, the boys did take me out hunting for them once. It was the last time too after I found out what they were up too! lol!

Swamp Thing said...

Only snipe I've seen hunting was on a marsh hunt with my brother. I turned around, and a snipe was standing on my box of ammo (in my bag) in the marsh grass. I was so intrigued (and honestly didn't know if the season was open), that I didn't shoot him when he eventually walked off.