The exact nature of the Snipe is shrouded in mystery, as it is very rare to observe one up close. They are believed to be a variety of shy flightless bird. However, they should not be confused with the Snipe that is a kind of long-billed bird (capable of flight) found in wet, grassy areas. Although the two share the same name, they are different creatures, and it is only the flightless Snipe that is of interest to tall-tale-creature-ologists. (Though it is worth noting that, like the flightless Snipe, the long-billed kind of Snipe is notoriously difficult to hunt, and its name serves as the origin of the word 'sniper' because it takes a very experienced shooter to hit one.)

Snipe hunting is a popular activity at American summer camps. Often older, more experienced campers will volunteer to show younger campers how it is done. The hunt usually takes place at night in a location such as a forest or a cornfield. The Snipe is trapped inside a bag which, traditionally, a younger camper is given the honor of carrying.

There are two basic methods of trapping the Snipe. In the first method the Snipe hunter is sent out into a forest or field carrying the bag and a flashlight. He is instructed to imitate the call of a Snipe. When the Snipe hears the call it will come out of hiding and jump into the bag. To get the call just right, the Snipe hunter should ideally practice it for at least a week before the big hunt.

The second method is to go out as a group. When the more experienced hunters sense the presence of a Snipe they will leave the novice hunter alone "holding the bag" as they fan out to flush out the Snipe and, hopefully, cause it to run into the bag. Unfortunately there have been occasions, so I have heard, when the flushers, having failed to find a Snipe, proceed directly back to camp, forgetting to tell the guy holding the bag that the hunt is over.

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Standing in the night
I hoped to catch a snipe
what a fool I've been
Posted by J  on  Wed Nov 15, 2006  at  11:45 AM