INTRODUCTION - SNIPE HUNTING
Snipes are small, reclusive animals that live in marshes and wet meadows. Snipe hunting is a popular sport and activity to partake in in America which involves locating snipes with the use of dogs, then shooting them with shotguns. Today we will be discussing snipe hunting as well as providing you with information about various types of snipes, their habitat and more!
WHAT ARE SNIPES AND WHAT DO THEY LOOK LIKE
Snipes are small, reclusive animals that live in marshes and wet meadows. They have a pointed beak which helps them to probe for aquatic invertebrates in the mud or sand of ponds and streams. The snipe is also known as wetland bird because it resides mostly near wetlands where there is plenty of vegetation to serve as cover from predators. Snipes wingspan measure up to about 50 cm long with legs measuring about one third its body length. They typically weigh between 80 and 140 grams, making them difficult targets when hunting!
The most common snipe habitat is in wild wetlands. They also like to nest on the ground, making them very hard to see because their feathers blend into their surroundings. This type of habitat makes it difficult for hunters as well who often use dogs and people with shotguns!
Another common place that you might find a snipe is near water sources such as ponds, marshes or creeks. They love this area because there are more bugs which they can eat! The other reason why these areas are popular among snipes is that humans avoid those types of environments so they aren't hunted quite so much by human beings.
TYPES OF SNIPES
There are several different types of snipe, however the two most commonly seen are the "common snipe" and the "Jack snipe". The common snipe, "Gallinago gallinago", is larger than the Jack snipe and has a browner coloration. The two types of snipes are most often distinguished wing span - the jack snipe's wing span is roughly about 40 cm while a common snipes wing span is around 50 cm long!
Jack Snipes can inhabit forests and thus resemble this type of habitat with their dark brown backsides which contrast against their white bellies. All other species live in marshes, meadows, moorland or freshwater streams where they feed on invertebrates such as insects that hide beneath rocks near water sources. A notable fact about these birds is that when flushed from cover , snipes will make a zigzag pattern in flight and normally land some distance away. The snipe's most distinctive feature is its bill - you will see a snipes bill easily during flight! They are often confused with the much larger woodcock!
HOW TO HUNT FOR THEM
Snipe are birds that have a camouflage appearance and can be difficult to see. You will need to use the following steps in order to find them:
Hunting snipe is all about location. As already mentioned the best place is to look in wet, marshy areas. Look at any time of the day this will have no affect. You need to walk slowly through these areas with your eyes peeled so as not to miss them taking off (i.e., a snipe). When a snipe takes of it will almost always make its call sound giving you an opportunity to react. They take off extremely quickly and begin zig-zaging away instantaneously. You have to be seriously quick to react in time.
I will always take a dog with me when snipe hunting as I do with any other type of hunting! However, I tend to keep my dog close to heel as snipe are easily spooked. Simply walking through an area where there is snipe is more than enough to flush the birds. Having said this, if you are lucky enough to shoot a snipe your dog will be a necessity to help locate the fallen bird. Snipe are notoriously hard to find and your dog will be vital!
NOTE: It's extremely important to know that here in the UK only the common snipe can be shot. The jack snipe is a much rarer bird and is protected! So proceed with caution. Here is a video below that will help you identify the difference between the two:
WHY SHOULD I HUNT FOR SNIPES
You should hunt for snipe because they are a fantastic sporting bird to hunt! Their numbers are plentiful and they are tasty if you manage to shoot a couple. Snipe hunting requires great skill and appreciation for the bird. Sometimes you will find an abundance of snipe and others they just seem to vanish, its often hit or miss excuse the pun!
To hunt these birds successfully requires patience and knowledge about their behavior. But its great to figure it all out yourself, the hardest part about snipe hunting is finding yourself a permission with the correct habitat. It's not so hard in America where there is vast land called public land that can be hunted without permission.
Snipe is a very exciting bird to hunt due to the way it zig-zags away from you. It makes shooting them extremely difficult but very rewarding when you shoot one. Also, the shooting can be constant when you find an area that is well suited to the snipes preferred environment!
Snipe as you may have gathered are a very small bird and therefore the yield of meat of this bird isn't massive. Although, there are some interesting recipes that have been developed over time. Here's some for you to take a look at:
- 1 RECIPE
- 2 RECIPE
- 3 RECIPE
SAFETY PRECAUTIONS WHEN HUNTING FOR SNIPES
Due to the areas where you will be hunting snipe (boggy, uneven terrain). It's important to wear high top waterproof boots. Or even a good set of waders can be a good choice sometimes. Proceed with caution in the areas you will be hunting as the best place to find snipe can be dangerous. Soft ground can be a problem catching many hunters out or even tidal zones. Be careful to know what you are going into.
A good idea would be to bring along some form of emergency signaling device, such as an air horn or even flares so that if anything were happen, someone could find out about what happened quickly. An even better idea would be to take someone else with you and make sure you can call to get help if something were to happen.