Thoughts from a (real) snipe hunter
I went on a snipe hunt once, and I actually shot a snipe. I’m not kidding.This is why I’ve always been confused by the old “going on a snipe hunt” reference. I’ve seen a snipe – they’re little sandpiper-looking birds. I’ve learned through the years, however, that many people don’t realize that a snipe is a very real bird, and a snipe hunt is a very real thing. They think a snipe hunt is simply a way to explain a practical joke, where one innocent and naive sucker is led on a, well, wild goose chase, while all the others in the group snicker at the poor lout. The “friends” usually tell the uninitiated bloke that in order to raise up the snipe, described as a bird or animal, they must run around in circles or make weird noises. Isn’t that fun. It is if you’re not the victim. It’s not so great once you’ve discovered what an idiot you have been made out to be.But hold on. Isn’t this kind of a strange joke that plays back on itself? I wonder how many people who have played this prank on someone know that there is this very cool little winged creature that is actually a snipe?Going on a snipe hunt can also mean a whole different thing … kind of a code phrase for making out. It’s a useful term when you’re, say, 16, and getting together with your boyfriend. It’s not so useful for someone in their 40s and married. “Hey honey, how about going on a snipe hunt? Yeah, meet me in the back seat of the sedan in 15 minutes.” Probably not.The snipe hunt I went on was when I was in my early 20s, in a Mississippi marsh, and shooting a snipe was a rite of passage for me. It was the first creature I’d ever shot and killed with a shotgun. And not only did I shoot it, but I ate it. You know, it’s the old Hemingway code: You want to respect what you’ve taken. You never want to let anything go to waste.I haven’t shot a snipe since, but I like the fact that I can count myself a member of a small faction of people who’ve actually been on a snipe hunt, and lived to tell the tale.Carrie Click is the editor and general manager of The Citizen Telegram in Rifle. She thinks snipe are beautiful little creatures, much better for bird-watching than for shooting.
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