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Of Springers and snipe

Casey Allen, freelance writer for MyOutdoorBuddy.comBy Casey Allen
I’m convinced the term “bat out of hell” was coined by a snipe hunter.  These small, short legged upland shorebirds have an erratic flight somewhere between a bat and a mourning dove. They are close to impossible to see on the ground and are found by walking and jumping them. They jump into the air, squawk, defecate, and then begin their erratic flight. By the time your shotgun hits your shoulder the snipe has changed direction three times.  They are the most challenging quarry in the shot gunning world.  Whether called Wilson’s snipe or the Common snipe, only ornithologists care about the difference. Old timers call them jacksnipe and all of them are hard to hit with a shotgun.Springer Spaniels ready for snipe hunt with Casey Allen of MyOutdoorBuddy.com

Snipe, whose close relative is the woodcock, are migratory birds and like waterfowl spend summers breeding in the northern states and Canada and winter in the south.  They travel south during the fall hunting season as the north turns cold. Snipe can be found in low, wet, open fields and along creeks and river beds, but not on the bay mud flats. Places where they can use their long beak to probe for food in the soft ground.
 
I dumped a box of 20 gauge 8 shot into the left pocket of my bird vest.  Walking the backside of the beach dunes into a light southern breeze coming off the Pacific Ocean, I shot twice at each of the first three snipe I jumped and missed.  “I better slow down,” I thought. “Take your time and get a good shot”, I told myself. So I did. And I missed, and missed, and missed.  It was not long until my right pocket had more spent casings than my left had live shells. My two springer spaniels were giving me long looks and I could tell they were wondering what my problem was.  Dogs are extremely helpful if they will stay very close to the hunter. Downed snipe can be hard to find because their natural camouflage is so perfect they blend in with the grassy terrain and a retriever will eliminate lost birds.   But if the dog gets too far out it will spook birds out of range and when there are a lot of birds it is easy for a dog to lose control.
 
Finally, my female springer Fiona jumped a snipe that did not zig-zag and I dropped it with one shot.  Fiona followed the little bird into the thick beach grass and with her short tail working at full speed sniffed the bird out and brought it to me.  She sat at my feet looking at me while I placed the snipe in my game bag.  I could see she was smiling but could only imagine what she was thinking.
 
Hunting pressure can have an effect on the snipe.  Once they are shot at a few times they learn to jump quickly and fly off at top speed using all their moves. I hunted my favorite area on a Thursday and with my male springer, Barkley, we shot a limit of eight snipe in two hours. It was my best day ever, taking only 24 shots. But then I was back the next Monday and I could tell someone had hunted them on the weekend. The snipe were hot and I shot a box and a half of shells for just two birds.
 
Guns and loads used for quail hunting are suited to the fast shooting required for snipe.  Steele shot may be required in areas used for hunting waterfowl so hunters should check their local regulations. Snipe are easy to clean by tearing the breast from the body and snapping off the wings. You may have to save the tasty little breasts in the freezer until you get enough for a meal. I can eat a limit of eight with no trouble. I like to sauté them with onions and mushrooms and they taste like a corn fed mallard.

More Hunting News

Oregon Bighorn poaching reward increase

05/24/16 -- The Oregon Hunters Association announced today that it will offer an additional $5,000 from its Turn In Poachers (TIP) fund to increase the reward to as much as $15,050 for information leading to whoever poached... Full Story

CDFW accepts pig, deer hunt applications

05/19/16 -- The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is now accepting applications for a limited number of deer and pig hunt access permits on opening weekend, Aug.13-14, 2016 in Zone A for the... Full Story

Big game drawing deadline approaches

deer, courtesy of CDFW
05/19/16 -- The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is now accepting applications for the 2016 Big Game Drawing. Applications for elk, antelope, bighorn sheep, premium deer tags and fundraising drawing tags... Full Story

Reward in bighorn poaching to $8,800

big horn ram poached, photo by OSP
05/19/16 -- Chapters of the Oregon Hunters Association have pooled their resources to increase the reward to up to $8,800 for information leading to whoever poached a bighorn sheep along Interstate 84 last month... Full Story

​I Was an Indoor (Outdoor) Slave

Don Webster, author badge, myoutdoorbuddy.com
04/07/16 -- I wish to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to all those kind folks who sent me "get well" cards and flowers during my recent, self-imposed stay at the Broken Antlers Rehabilitation Clinic. I'm especially indebted... Full Story

Hunter education for Spring certification

Maddy and Morgan with a spring turkey Maddy took during the youth season in the 
Wenaha Unit last year. 
-Photo by Brett T.-
02/22/16 -- Take advantage of the many hunter education opportunities available right now and get hunter education certified before spring turkey season (which runs April 15-May 31 statewide plus a youth-only season April 9-10).... Full Story

Nash Buckingham

Don Webster, author badge, myoutdoorbuddy.com
Theophilus Nash Buckingham (1880-1971) was an American author and conservationist from Tennessee. He is known for being an avid shotgunner and wingshot, and a best-loved outdoor writer of his time... Full Story

How much venison do hunters harvest?

Venison Bourguignon (Venison Stew), photo by Daniel Bledsoe, Food.com
06/17/15 -- The Dallas Safari Club (DSC) intends to find out. A study launching in 2015 will measure the actual amounts of venison and other wild protein harvested annually in North America. Researchers will assess the nutritional... Full Story

Pups & Partridges on the Calapooia Prairie

Liesl, 11 month old pudelpointer, photo by Gary Lewis
By Gary Lewis
02/18/15 -- They say a great pointing dog only comes along once or twice in a hunter's lifetime. Some dogs don't have the heart or the desire. Others don't seem to have the nose or the brain. We brought home our pudelpointer in... Full Story

DSC convention goers raise $1M in 1 minute

01/19/15 -- Responding to a heartfelt appeal for youth outdoor education, DSC convention goers on Saturday night raised $1 million in about 60 seconds. The fast flurry of fundraising was a highlight of the 2015 DSC convention and expo... Full Story

It’s Not over Till the Lady Sings

mountain lion on rocky edge, photo courtesy of UDWR and Carrie Wilson, CA DFW
By Gary Lewis
01/19/15 -- If you want to avoid being attacked by a mountain lion, conventional wisdom says, you should travel in groups. If you encounter a mountain lion by yourself or with children, stop and make yourself look as big as possible... Full Story

Vintage Waterfowler

old black and white photo of a skiff loaded with ducks and a man with his shotgun, courtesy of Don Webster
By Don E. Webster
09/16/14 --Having been pursuing waterfowl for over 60 years, I was exposed to its history as a mere child by my grandfather, Wilbur S. Pechin. He hunted ducks and geese along the Platte River in Nebraska in the late 19th... Full Story

The buck we didn’t get and two we did

Tyler Low with his 3x4 buck shot at 100 yards with a Weatherby Vanguard .300 Winchester Magnum. Photo by Kyler Olson
By Tyler Low
08/10/14 -- “Can you see him? He is just below the sky line to the left of the big live oak.” The respectable three-point stood only 500 yards away, but my hunting partner, Kyler Olson, couldn’t quite get an eye on him... Full Story

Where Are All the Pheasants?

Sacramento Valley Pheasant, Steven T. Callan, Where Have All the Pheasants Gone
On Patrol by Steven T. Callan
The other day a neighbor stopped by my house after two days of hunting pheasants in the Orland area. He said that he and his golden retriever, Milo, had probably walked ten miles and only flushed three birds. Knowingthat I had grown up... Full Story

Ham on the Hoof

Article and photos by Gary Lewis
12/17/13 -- We were climbing a steep gravel ranch road in Charlie’s Toyota when we saw it, as big as a full-grown bear and on a dead run. Charlie hit the brakes and switched off the engine. There was no time to load the rifle. The shaggy, gray... Full Story

Never say never

Never say never, rifle buk, Francisco Garcia, MyOutdoorBuddy.com
By Francisco Garcia
Most of you have heard the saying, patience is a virtue, and I would say persistence is a virtue. If you want to fill your deer tag each season you have to put your time in. If you don’t give in and hunt hard you should be... Full Story

Hunting trip gone bad

Deer holding tight in cover during times of heavy hunting pressure as I was about to find out. Francisco Garcia hunting story. MyOutdoorBuddy.com
By Francisco Garcia
If you asked me what I’d rather be doing, most of the time I would emphatically say, deer hunting. For me nothing gets the juices flowing and the imagination spinning like the arrival of bow or rifle season for deer. When... Full Story

 

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