The Michigan Snipe; Let the Hunt Begin

by:  Nom Plume

 

As a youth, we in Michigan would sit around a camp fire, making s’mores, telling ghost stories, generally enjoying the great Michigan outdoors.  Suddenly, there would be a sound behind us.  In some campgrounds, it would simply be some ruffling of leaves.  In others, it would be an eerie call close to a banshee.  And every time we heard this noise, we were told that the mysterious, dangerous and elusive snipe was hunting us.

The snipe was a tiny bird we were told.  It had razor sharp teeth that could tear a man’s arm off if we weren’t careful.  It could run faster than a cougar, leap farther than a kangaroo and was silent, deadly silent.  It didn’t have wings like a normal bird.  It was covered in scales, dragon or snake scales that made it impervious to everything.  There was only one way to scare away a snipe, bang two sticks together and shout!   And that is exactly what we did.

When I became a father to my son, I remember telling my then wife that I cannot wait to take him on snipe hunts.  She looked at me like I was crazy.  And sure enough, when my son was in Scouts, the parents and I would send the kids off on snipe hunts after giving a VERY accurate description of their prey.

My Uncle was the first to send me on a snipe hunt when I was a wee one.  He was also an avid outdoorsman and he never told me that the snipe was a real bird.

According to Wikipedia, “A snipe is any of about 25 wading bird species in three genera in the family Scolopacidae. They are characterized by a very long, slender bill and crypsis plumage. The Gallinago snipes have a nearly worldwide distribution, the Lymnocryptes Jack Snipe is restricted to Asia and Europe and the Coenocorypha snipes are found only in the Outlying Islands of New Zealand. The three species of painted snipe are not closely related to the typical snipes, and are placed in their own family, the Rostratulidae.”

The way that the snipe can hide in foliage and move silently inspired the term “sniper”.

There is even a hunting season for the snipe here in Michigan.  It falls, amazingly, during deer season.  You do need to purchase tags and there is a bag limit.  All hunting information can be found on the Michigan DNR web-site.

So remember, next time you are around a campfire and ready to send your kids out to hunt for a snipe, they might come back with one!

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