Reflections on Snipe
Photographs/Illustrations by Eldridge Hardy
As Charley Waterman writes in his excellent foreword, "It is comforting that an uninformed world considers the snipe a clown or a myth, and leaves him to the few hunters who love him." Indeed, for most wingshooters, the snipe is normally an incidental take, usually -- as Mathewson points out -- during waterfowl hunts.
The author argues, however, that the bird is worthy quarry in and of itself. As Waterman points out, "Hard-hunted snipe on short grass flats are completely different from birds in heavier cover that have seen no hunters. Every experienced woodcock hunter has witnessed a similar dichotomy."Though this shorebird may enjoy a smaller following than the always-popular timberdoodle -- which it resembles in still other ways, as well -- those who pursue snipe with a good shotgun and pointing dog have discovered fine sport.In these pages, you’ll trod bogs in Ireland, Africa, South America, and -- in the States -- wetlands from Louisiana to Alaska. Mathewson puts it this way: "Whether in James Bay or on Vancouver Island, along the crystal clear trout streams of Idaho or the high desert marshes of eastern Oregon, deep in the bogs of Louisiana, the coastal plains of Texas, or perhaps a flooded cornfield in Indiana, snipe, by and large, are where you find them."
The area adjacent to the Campbell River, in British Columbia, was a favorite of Roderick Haig-Brown, who frequently hunted snipe there. In his narrative, Mathewson includes a hilarious story about the famed fly fisherman. On one particular hunt, Haig-Brown can’t locate a hard-won snipe he downed. A full ten minutes later, one of the party discovers the dead bird nestled inside the mouth of a cougar hound that had tagged along on the hunt.
Reflections on Snipe is a delightful compendium of information on snipe behavior and habitats; gunning history; stories from the field; and the pleasures of hunting with good companions, whether human or canine.
- By: Worth Mathewson