Back in the day, when kids played outdoors as darkness fell, it always was special when a new kid arrived to play in the evening. It was snipe hunt time.
The newbie was told before he or she could enter into evening games, they had to help us with a snipe hunt. It was their assignment to catch the snipe.
The youngster usually was given a burlap bag and a flashlight to assist with their duties.
According to Tom Cadden, public information officer, Arizona Game and Fish Department, the ritual goes like this: The unsuspecting newbie is told about a unique bird called a snipe and is given some ridiculous method of catching it, such as running around the woods with a bag while making strange noises or banging sticks.
In our neighborhood, the kid was then told to hold the bag and the snipes would come to the bag for capture. In the meantime, we went on about playing our games while the bag holder waited.
The practical joke leaves the recipient red-faced and the rest of the kids had a good laugh.
Today, probably few people have heard of or played snipe hunt. However, many folks, including some hunters, might be surprised to know that snipe not only exist, but offer some enjoyable, sporty hunting opportunities.
“Snipe are one of the most overlooked game birds,” says Randy Babb, information and education program manager for the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Mesa region.
“They flush similar to quail, and their zig-zag flight patterns make for a challenging target.
Snipe prefer marshy habitats along rivers and lakes and will also use flooded agricultural areas. Birds can often be spotted by the hunter prior to entering an area by glassing the water’s edge with binoculars.
Babb advises hunters to check snipe habitat often, as the birds tend to suddenly appear and disappear in the feeding areas.
“Snipe offer a great ‘extra’ for duck hunters,” says Babb. “After a morning duck hunt, hunters should walk the nearby marshy areas or other flooded vegetation. If you prefer to jump-shoot ducks, snipe are common visitors to stock tanks.”
The Indiana season dates for common snipe this year are Sept. 1 to Dec. 16. The daily bag limit is eight.
Kentucky’s snipe season is Sept. 21 to Oct. 30,and then Nov. 24 through Jan. 29.