The truth is that the mythical Snipe Hunting uses fake tools and techniques. These tools and techniques are actually for catching real snipe.
Wikipedia and Urban Dictionary both mention moonless nights, spotlights and noisemakers. Yes!
These tools are used to preserve a long-standing tradition of bird-catching.
Ali Hussein, a famed Indian bird trapper, was the first to teach me about snipe hunting techniques. He is one of many bird trappers that once caught birds for their profit.
Ali began to adopt a conservation ethic as the times changed and used his vast knowledge and experience in order to capture birds for science.
Ali met me at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park during a world tour of biological stations. He was traveling with a translator, a bunch of trapping gear, mostly made from bamboo, and wanted to share his knowledge and skills with biologists.
Ali showed one of the simplest techniques, the “torch-and-gong” technique. This involves carrying a torch and beating a gong to disorient the trapper.
A net is placed over the bird to catch it when it is confused. It’s a simple snipe hunt.
With new tools and techniques, the snipe hunting tradition is still being carried on in wildlife research. A 1959 report by the Illinois Natural History Survey describes the snipe-hunting technique (they call it “nightlighting”) which involves a truck driving through a field using a generator-powered bank to shine spotlights. The trapper rides on the hood and carries a long-handled net.
Even now, in Cape May, a multiyear study on migrating and wintering woodcocks (a very similar bird as snipe), employs the snipe hunt technique (or, if you prefer the torch and gong or night-lighting or, in Ali’s terminology, lukiphanna) to capture them.
The snipe can also be found at some woodcock trapping areas. Woodcock trappers occasionally catch snipes to show that snipe hunting can be a rewarding endeavor.
How to Snipe Hunting Oregon
Stalking Wilson’s Snipe is a hybrid of waterfowl Snipe Hunting and upland bird hunting. They are found in shallow wetlands near duck habitats, but they flush and hold more like a chukar or pheasant.
- A few late-season snipe hunts are a great way to close the bird hunting season.
- Stuart Love, ODFW wildlife specialist and waterfowl hunter offers these tips to hunt snipe in Oregon.
From eastern Oregon to the coast, find Snipe Hunting
Wilson’s snipe is a migratory bird. Some of them nest in Oregon, but most arrive in fall migration late. They winter in the wetlands and agricultural fields of eastern Oregon, as well as portions of Oregon’s coastal bays that are flooded by the tide.
There are a few areas that have a high number of wintering Snipe Hunting:
- Summer Lake Wildlife Area
- Baker City and the LaGrande Valley are home to agricultural lands
- Sauvie Island Wildlife Area
- Fern Ridge Wildlife Area
- Coquille Valley Wildlife Area
The number of snipe in Oregon’s southwestern coast counties rises in January and February. The last chance to hunt birds can be found in snipe, which can make Snipe Hunting quite enjoyable. For information on good hunting spots near you, contact your local wildlife biologist.
- Snipe can be found in shallow wetlands and flooded fields.
- Snipe can be found in wetlands where rainwater softens soil and shallowly floods grassy areas.
Hunters say that if your ankles get wet while Snipe Hunting, it is likely you are in too deep water for snipe. Although it may seem exaggerated, snipe prefer moist soil that has only a small amount of water. This environment is ideal for snipe, who will use their flexible long bill to pull earthworms out of the mud.
If you live far from a wetland habitat, Snipe Hunting can be done in areas like meadows or clear-cuts. Fall and winter rains create puddles. These are places where migrating snipes will stop to eat in the moist soil before continuing on to their traditional habitat.
Choose a lightweight shotgun and use non-toxic shells
For hunting snipe, non-toxic shot is necessary just like for waterfowl hunting. You should use a smaller shot for snipe hunting than you would duck hunting. Use steel shot of size 6 or less if you are hunting snipe.
While any shotgun can be used, many hunters prefer to use a lightweight and quick gun such as a 20-gauge upland bird gun. Use non-toxic shotguns with tight chokes as the shot can cause damage to the barrels. A better cylinder choke is perfect for snipe shots, which are often fired at close range.
It’s important to know that it’s a “snipe”.
New snipe hunters face the first challenge of identifying them in the field. Other shorebirds can look very similar to snipes and are found in the same habitat. But, you can positively identify them by certain key characteristics.
- Snipe almost always flush with one bird alone, or perhaps with another bird.
- Snipe immediately make a distinct call upon flushing. They sound like they are saying escape or skype in a very scratchy voice.
Dowitchers are the most common birds to be mistaken for snipe. Dowitchers are often found in large flocks of birds, and fly in unison. Also, Dowitchers are more likely not to call. When they call, they sound more like other shorebirds and less like snipes.
Workout your dog
Late season snipe hunting is a great way to get your dog used to working in the habitat, much like you would with quail and pheasants. Snipe are a great scent to give your dog, and they can hold on for a while before they flush at you.
Because snipe are slow to run after landing, they can make excellent birds for training young bird dogs. This allows you to mark the spot where a flushed bird lands and work your dog towards that mark. It is very likely that the bird will be right next to its landing spot.
What snipe was called “sniper”?
The military term “sniper” refers to a soldier who has been trained in long-distance and extremely precise shooting. It is derived from European hunters who were skilled in shooting snipe for the markets.
There are many snipe varieties, and they can be found in almost every part of the world. Some varieties can be quite large. The South American giant snipe can grow to the size of a large teal. Some others, such as the Wilson’s, look more like a small quark.
Fast and hot: Cook Snipe Hunting
Snipe Hunting can be very tasty when properly cooked. They have a darker breast meat than the leg meat, as is typical for migratory birds. Dark meat may have a stronger taste than upland birds and should be prepared quickly and hot. While medium is acceptable, rarer is preferred. Slow cooking tends dry the meat out and enhances the strong flavors. A great way to make a popper is for hunters to wrap snipe’s breast meat in bacon, and then cook it on a hot barbecue.
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