A snipe is a bird that hangs around bogs and marshes and is valued as “good eating” game. Several years ago when I was about twelve years old old, hunting Snipe was a sport, and usually us trusting younguns looked forward to being invited to go Snipe hunting with the older boys and men. I remember vividly when I was invited to go Snipe hunting with my older brothers and cousins. I believe twelve year old children are smarter today than I was at that age when I excitedly accepted the invitation to go Snipe hunting for the very first time.
I should have suspected somthing when I was so graciously encouraged to accompany my older brothers and cousins on a night Snipe hunt when I saw there were no guns, only a croker sack and some peach tree switches. Night Snipe hunting had been carefully explainted to me before we took off for the creek swamp. Since I was new at it, I was told I would sit quietly in the swampy dark holding the crocker sack open so the Snipes could be whipped in with the peach tree switches.
The experienced Snipe hunters took the switches and departed to find the Snipe and whip them back to my waiting sack. Being twelve years old and somewhat afraid of the dark, I wanted someone to stay with me and the croker sack, but I was told–and reluctantly believed–that Snipes wouldn’t come to the crocker sack if more than one person was there. Well, with heart pounding, I settled down behind the palmetto clump as everyone else left me holding the sack open. I suppose I must have waited for behind that palmetto waiting to hear whipping noises and see some Snipes. It took awhile, but I finally figured out that I had been left literally “holding the bag.”
I ran all the way back home to find my brothers and cousins sitting at home, real pleased with themselves that they had tricked a trusting “dummy.” Of course everyone except me had a big laugh at my ignorance and vulnerability. I suppose my biggest disappointment in the whole matter was that Mama knew I was being set up and didn’t come to my aid. I felt at the time that she should have protected me from my ignorance, but I later realized that she was allowing me to face reality in the process of growing up as a north Florida country boy.
Snipe hunting at night has long since fell by the wayside, but I don’t imagine there are too many country boys, as I was way back then.
LOL I got nailed on that my first year at Girl Scout camp. When my daughter went the first time I warned her with a giggle that she didn’t want to go on a snipe hunt so of course she went and came home demanding to know why I didn’t tell her WHY she didn’t want to go. LOL I told her that we all have to learn about snipe hunts — as variations on them occur throughout life.
In my childhood days I too was deeply involved in snipes hunting, just like you.
During the Monsoon season (Nov to December) we boys used to frequent the small rarely-used air-strip, especially when it rained continuously.
The only tool we used were hand-made long-handled nets. But most of the times we just ran after them until they dropped. They were normally so weak getting soaked and after a hard chase.
There is also a more traditional way of catching snipes. You may not believe this, but just go on reading.
My late grandfather used to ‘call’ these snipes or in Malay it is called Sintar. The call was usually made at dusk. Before that a long piece of fishing net was laid on the ground. Soon after the call, you could hear them flying in by the numbers. They soon would be caught in the net and all I had to do was to round them up one by one.
It was beieved back then that we had to be careful. Why? Sometimes there were ghosts following the birds!
You can read my childhood stories in my Blog – Nature lover – email@example.com
I learned about snipe hunting from Disney’s 1950ish show, Spin and Marty. Do you remember that? Spin and Marty lived on a ranch and took a group of boys snipe hunting one evening. The boys had paper bags and crawled through the woods whispering, “Here snipe, here snipe.” I knew better than to fall for that snipe hunting scam.
However, I did believe my mother when she told me that I could catch a bird by sprinkling salt on its tail. My friends and I would crouch on the grass, salt shakers in hand, waiting for a robin or a starling to land. Wrens were too small. Then we would try to creep up on the bird. None of us was ever successful at catching one. I wonder if anyone ever did. To this day I still don’t know if you can catch a bird using this method.
Oh, there was Snipe Hunting out here in the wilds of California, 🙂