Where to hunt Snipe
Snipe is a denizen of swamps, marshes, and wetlands all over the Northern Hemisphere, in both Europe, Asia and America. American and common (European) snipe are considered different species, but are close enough to each other for all practical purposes. However, in Europe the common snipe commands a greater respect as a game species, and most offers are concentrated there.
Snipe hunting offers start at about $250 a hunter a day, and considering that you typically get the services of a guide with a dog or dogs (especially the effort that goes into breeding a good bird dog), this is quite a good value. With catering and accommodation, and including a trip to a more distant destination, the price can go to $500-600 a hunter a day.
When to hunt Snipe?
Snipe hunting season usually starts in the mid-summer, after the young birds take to wing. Local snipe hunting continues until the marshes and swamps freeze over, and birds migrate south. The best hunts for snipe are after migratory or wintering birds, the latter sometimes continuing well into winter.
In America, snipes are either hunted along with other migratory shorebirds, from blinds with decoys and calls, or are walked up without dogs. In Europe the hunters consider the common snipe worthy to be hunted over pointers and setters. Common snipe is often found on wet meadows that adjoin wetlands, where hunters with pointing dogs can have quite a day finding it. This is a classic hunt that is often described in old books.
Why hunt Snipe?
According to etymological dictionaries, the world “sniper” originated from the name of the bird. In the late XVIII century snipe was recognized as the most challenging game bird for a shot, and the best shots, who could kill them repeatedly, were called “snipers”. When a snipe rises, the first stages of its flight are a sort of an anti-raptor maneuver with the bird zig-zagging at top speed. With a flintlock shotgun, combining unpredictable ignition and short range, hitting a zig-zagging bird was really quite a challenge. Modern shotguns make the trick somewhat easier, but bringing down these birds repeatedly is a sign of a really high-class shot. Last but not the least, snipe is a delicacy that was highly valued by European haut cuisine back in the days when it wasn’t socially inappropriate to serve game.
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