Contrary to popular belief, all you really need for Snipe Hunting is 2 dozen skyhooks and 100 yards of shore line. You can make a great snipe lure out of the line, with maybe a bucket of smoke at the end. Then snag him with the sky hooks. It's kind of like fishing that way...

The most common, and easiest, method of hunting snipes is to get a large pot and a cooking spoon. Then you run around in the snipe's native habitat (the woods, of course) and bang on the pot, thus causing the snipes to think that there is food in the pot, and jump in, trapping themselves. Snipe meat is best eaten raw, with just a little bit of parsely.

Hate to break the fun, but a snipe hunt is something you pull on the gullible. After meeting a trusting soul you wish to tweak a little, invite them to go snipe hunting in the woods. A description of the snipe is necessary here. People usually get the best results claiming them to be a type of bird. For the anal, there is even a species called snipes, but a little embellishment never hurts. Make up some story about how exactly one hunts snipe, complete with equipment. Psk's writeup is one nice example, and they can get very elaborate. Depending on the pacificism of the mark, the goal can be either to kill, capture or merely see the snipe.

Once you've lured the sucker out into the woods, any number of amusing things can be done. You can leap on them from behind trees, or simply have them run after the snipe all night on a wild goose chase ("Look! Can't you see it over there! Go get it!"), or even sneak away leaving them in the forest by themselves. It's a good initiation for newcomers, as long as you keep the pranks harmless.

dragoon's writeup seems to be confusing snipe shooting (from which we have "sniper") with haggis hunting. The confusion is, perhaps, understandable, given that snipe used to be found in Scotland.

However, the massive "ethical" hunting of snipe by the likes of hodgepodge and Psk have driven populations down to near-extinction levels.

In 1996, successful lobbying from the WWTHO yielded the inclusion of the snipe in the endangerous species list. Wales and England ratified the treaty, but under pressure from barley farmer's organisations Scotland did not; parsley growers continue to hunt snipe "for scientific study".

The snipe hunt is a modern day wild goose chase. It is a time honored rite of passage among members of the Boy Scouts, or pretty much any group that includes naive young campers.

While the details vary, certain things remain constant:

  • Young campers are told of the mysterious snipe, a bird that lives in caves and is only active at night. The only problem is, this bird doesn't actually exist.
  • Since the snipe only leaves its cave at night, this is of course when the hunt occurs.
  • The snipe is always said to roam the least accessible parts of the campgrounds, such as sites that are heavy with waist-high weeds, or full of muck.
  • Campers are equipped with only a flashlight and possibly a sack. No weapons are ever provided, for obvious reasons.
  • The goal is never to kill the snipe, only to catch it.

Once this has been done, the hunt itself can be done in several ways. The most common is for the older campers who engineered this hunt to just stay by the campfire and laugh their asses off as they send all the campers out individually. Each makes his trek through the forest, in the dark, banging all over the place, before finally coming back empty handed.

I've also seen it done where the entire group goes hunting in a pack. The older campers come along and "spot" the snipes hidden in the densest bits of weeds. "I've got one! Over there, in that bush! Quick, someone get it!" Of course, it's always too dark to tell for sure, and by the time everyone has lumbered over, it's easy to say that it simply got away. Older campers may also throw rocks into the bushes so that it seems there's really something there. This results in many an "I almost had it!" from the poor campers. (Thanks Oeq1st1 )

One final variation is the "snipe call". Those in on the joke teach the campers a mating call that will lead the snipe right into their sack. Rather than having campers simply running around in the night, we have campers running around in the night making ridiculous noises.

The snipe hunt usually makes all the campers feel a bit stupid for a day or so, but I've always remembered mine with a bit of nostalgia.


Sources:
http://home.att.net/~coledon/snipe.htm for info on variations

Breathless, the group bounded through the woods toward the snipe-rich area surrounding the lake in the distance. It was just after dusk, and the only light besides a rapidly fading glow to the west was provided by the small penlights they each held gripped in their sweaty hands. Little Jimmy had never been snipe-hunting before, and his excitement was almost palpably apparent as the flickering web of knowing looks shot each other by the bigger boys over Jimmy's head. The leader halted them with a silent hand-signal, and then they began to move forward in a silent creep. Finally, the place was right.

The leader stationed Jimmy at a narrow part of the trail between two bushes. A large burlap sack was handed to him in return for his penlight by another boy, and he was silently molded into a squatting position with the bag stretched across the trail between the shrubs.

"They'll run right in when we scare 'em and you just scoop 'em up! the leader whispered into Jimmy's ear quietly.

Then silently they began to meld into the dark woods to either side. Jimmy smiled as he thought of the picture of a snipe he was shown on the lid of an old shoe polish can. The little quail-like bird with a tuft of feathers on its head. As the muffled sounds of the rest of the hunting party faded away, the surrounding insects began retuning to resume their symphonic collaberation. As the wild sound rose, the tree frogs joined in with a pulsating buzz, and the woods resumed its primal activity.

Tens of minutes passed, and Jimmy began to shift side to side to delay the numbness creeping up his feet to his ankles. He hadn't heard the yells and beating of bushes that had been described by the experienced hunters - perhaps they were casting a wider net in order to bag more snipes. More time passed, and he finally sat down, trying to keep the bag in relatively the same position. Maybe they were chasing the snipe down the wrong trail. As another quarter hour passes, the urgency to do something - anything - grew in Jimmy's thoughts. He stood and peered through the surrounding darkness for any hint of the penlights the other boys carried, but only the dim reflection of starlight from the closest leaves was visible in the moonless night. Finally, he could stand the isolation no longer. Dropping the bag, he cupped his hands to his mouth. First quietly, then louder and louder he raised his voice.

"Guys? Guys? Hey guys - where are you? Where are the snipes?"


The snipe hunt in the region of the southwest where I was raised took a traditional form that went back at least two generations. The unlucky victim was fed glorious stories of the legendary snipe hunts of old. The snipes with their tasty meat and valuable tuft-feathers were described in desirable terms, and perhaps an old picture of an alleged snipe (usually not even a bird of the real species) was passed around. One the hook was set in the mind of the victim, the burlap sack was fortuitously "found" in a tent, and a snipe-hunting party was found.

The party left the camp and circle round and round until the initiate was thoroughly disoriented, and then he was positioned at a trailhead or narrow gap between bushes and told to wait for the hundreds of snipe sure to herd themselves right into his bag. He was to snap them up and yell, at which point his imagination had already taken over and shown him visions of riding back to camp on the team's shoulders a hero. As the rest of the team left, ostensibly to beat the bushes for snipe, but really to return to camp to laugh and jeer at the poor victim's misfortune, one hunter was usually left behind to sneak off a short distance and wait until the panic was apparent in the victim's voice, then lead him back to the camp in humiliating disgrace, fully initiated, and now ready to be one of the rest of the hunting team on the next snipe hunt.

Sometimes they didn't leave a guide behind.

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