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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

Key OR F&W Commission meet is Friday

07/29/14 -- The Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s 2015-2017 proposed budget request for approval when it meets Aug. 1 at ODFW Headquarters. The meeting begins... Full Story

​A-Zone opener great for Alturas archer!

Dan Ryan of Alturas bagged this nice 3x3 buck
Article by Lorissa Soriano
07/29/14 -- Dan Ryan of Alturas and one of his good hunting buddies,"JP,” of El Dorado Hills, bagged these nice bucks during the season opener of A-zone archery. This was a great way to kick off the 2014 archery deer... Full Story

CDFW waterfowl hunting clinic in Redding

07/27/14 -- The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Advanced Hunter Education Program and California Waterfowl Association are sponsoring a waterfowl hunting clinic in Redding on Saturday, Sept. 20... Full Story

Nevada Dream Tag winners named

07/24/14 -- Nevada Dream Tag winners named Five lucky hunters are preparing for their Nevada hunt of a lifetime after winning one of the five premier tags in the Nevada Dream Tag raffle on July 1. This year the Dream Tag program... Full Story

​Youth deer hunters: Apply for special hunt

07/24/14 -- The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is offering a draw for an apprentice deer hunt on the Chimineas Unit of the Carrizo Plain Ecological Reserve. The two-day hunt, which is being offered in... Full Story

​CDFW SHARE program offers hunts

07/19/14 -- The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) program will be providing public access for big game and upland game hunts this fall. Hunters with... Full Story

Impact of drought on Type A Wildlife Areas

07/18/14 -- The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Central Region is planning a meeting on Aug. 16 in Los Banos to discuss various impacts of the statewide drought on Type A wildlife areas. CDFW is... Full Story

Deer tag quota for CA D6 Zone filled

07/16/14 -- The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is notifying hunters that tags are no longer available in the D6 Zone for the 2014 deer season. The California Fish and Game Commission (FGC) finalized big-game... Full Story

CWA: Support AB1709 (Jr. Hunting license)

07/15/14 -- California law currently requires that residents be less than 16 years of age to be eligible for a junior hunting license. AB 1709 (Frazier) proposes to extend the eligibility for a California junior hunting license... Full Story

CA AB2105 will aid fund-raising efforts

07/15/14 -- AB 2105 (Frazier) sponsored by the California Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation, with the assistance of Gaines & Associates cleared Senate Appropriations Committee in late June and is now on the Senate Floor... Full Story

CA ammo registration bill must be stopped

07/15/14 -- SB 53 (De León): Gaines & Associates reports that in early June, SB 53 was “gutted and amended” to require that those who purchase any ammunition (long gun or handgun) register and be authorized by the... Full Story

SB 199: Brightly-colored Pellet Guns? No!

07/15/14 -- SB 199 (De León) as amended in January 2014 proposes to require that all “BB devices” sold, or manufactured for sale in California be brightly colored. By including pellet guns currently legal for the use of hunting turkeys... Full Story

Sporting Caucus Reception set for Aug. 13

By Bill Gaines, Gaines & Associates
07/15/14 -- Gaines & Associates is currently partnering with California Waterfowl Association on a Caucus reception for Legislators, key Capitol staff and other important decision makers. The highly anticipated event... Full Story

Sauna Weather Hog

John Higley, author, kneeling at edge of muddy water hole looking for wild pig tracks. San Luis Obispo County.
By John Higley
07/13/14 -- I killed my first wild pig, a toothy, spotted boar in 1965. It was on a hunt with hounds in San Luis Obispo County with guide Eldon Bergman. I’ve never forgotten the commotion when we got close enough... Full Story

OSP F&W: Please help ID deer poacher!

07/08/14 -- The Oregon State Police Fish & Wildlife Division in Central Point is seeking the public's assistance in locating the person(s) responsible for the unlawful killing of a buck deer recently in the East Evans Creek or Sam’s... Full Story

Oregon program takes disabled youths afield

Ashley Jensen in wheel chair in front of blind used when she hunts.
By Jason Haley
07/06/14 -- It began decades ago with a prayer and a broken-winged raven, struggling to move across the beach in the Cook Inlet of Alaska. As former pastor, Ken Coreson watched this scene play out: seagulls... Full Story

ODFW: Get controlled hunt draw online

06/20/14 -- Hunters who applied for a 2014 fall controlled hunt can find out now if they drew the tag through the Hunting Resources section of ODFW’s website or by calling 503-947-6102 or 800-708-1782. Calls made... Full Story

CDFW offers Upland Game Hunting Clinic

06/18/14 -- The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Advanced Hunter Education will offer an upland game hunting clinic on Saturday, Aug. 23 at Hasting Island Hunting Preserve, near Rio Vista... Full Story

CWA Beginner Hunter Camps starting soon

05/21/14 -- Starting in June, California Waterfowl (CWA) will be hosting beginning hunter camps for all ages and abilities. If you know of someone who is interested in getting into hunting, encourage them to attend... Full Story

CWA: Register for camp, win a free hunt

04/27/14 -- Time is running out on the CWA 5-day Summer Camps "First 30" offer. The first 30 to register for Level 1 or Level 2 five-day camps will get a chance to win a free hunt for two at Grizzly Ranch this coming season... Full Story

John M. Browning

By Don E. Webster
02/05/14 -- One has to wonder how differently the history of not only America, but the entire world would have been if John Moses Browning (January 23, 1855 – November 26, 1926) had not been born... 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

Stay sharp for when the shot counts

Daisy Pellet Rifle, Powerline 1000S
By Jesse Bible
12/01/13 -- I would like to share a method for honing shooting skills. Here in Northern California, the odds are that you will be taking a close shot at a deer that has more than likely seen you first. Once you have determined... Full Story

Back to the Start

heritage, history of hunting, hunting as a family, Jason Haley, Mt. Shasta, Mount Shasta
Article and photos by Jason Haley
10/18/13 -- I got tipped-off about a bachelor group of bucks from an archer I trust. That never hurts. And after spending opening day in the area, glimpsing two good bucks and seeing how the terrain lays out, I knew exactly... Full Story

Me and my shadow

Twin melanistic fawns with doe, Me and my shadow, Jean Bilodeaux, MyOutdoorBuddy.com Article and photos by Jean Bilodeaux
10/06/12 -- It’s always amazing to see the huge bucks reappear in the fields in Surprise Valley right after deer season. Many times locals breathe a sigh of relief as the big bucks that disappeared a month earlier now reappear... Full Story

Hunting trip gone bad

Francisco Garcia, Outdoorman's Diary, bad hunting story 08/28/12 -- 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

The Mudhen King

Mid-Eighties. I’m writing screenplays. They invite me down to Hollywood, and things look promising, but they want the horse in my story to be green. By that, I mean they actually want a green horse. Green in color. Don’t laugh... Full Story

 

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