Bird hunting is an exhilarating and great way to spend time outdoors. The quote “You only get out what you put in” is very fitting to bird hunting though. It becomes an obsession for most, with countless hours of preparation and lost sleep to be successful. Albeit, it is very rewarding, but if you are just dipping your toes into bird hunting, snipe are a great opportunity to have some fun, harvest a few birds, and hone in your shotgun skills. Here are five tips that will help you shoot your limit next time in the field.
Find the Right Habitat
Snipe are small birds, brown, white, rust and black in color, with elongated beaks. The key to finding these birds is finding mud filled, wet, dark soiled areas. Using their long, skinny, beaks, snipe are able to root through this saturated soil with ease, digging out bugs and worms with ease. Flag ponds, marshes and anywhere with soft soil will hold snipe.
Walking through these areas is all it takes to flush these birds. With a quick and erratic zig-zagging escape, snipe make a very distinct “mreenk” sound, when flushing. If you didn’t hear that, or the bird is flying slower than average, chances are it’s not a snipe, rather a killdeer or sandpiper, don’t pull the trigger on those.
Now that you have found where the snipe live, you better gear up accordingly. Waterproof boots are essential for hunting snipe. I prefer to wear my Xtratuf Legacy 2.0 15-inch waterproof boots, as they work great for both fishing on the boat and stomping through the snipe field. Pants are a good idea as well, as you will most likely be walking through higher grass and shrubs that are quick to tear your legs up. Camo isn’t necessary, so whatever shirt you feel comfortable in will do the job. A bird vest is a necessity though. This will hold your shells, killed birds and water bottle for those long walks. DO NOT forget water, especially on the warmer days.
Keep Your Eyes on Them
Once you have shot a bird, be sure to keep your eyes on where it landed. With the snipe being a professional when it comes to camouflage, it’s VERY easy to lose a bird, especially in the taller grass. If you can’t find them after a , and you know you hit it, it is only right to count it towards your limit. Often times a bird will get winged by the shot and go down, but continue to run on the ground, dying later on.
Eyes to the Sky
So you flushed a nice covey of birds, but you just couldn’t connect. Watch what they do. After a their low escape, snipe will take to the sky, in search of their next spot. Countless times have I had these birds make a loop, flying directly back over me, giving me an easy shot. They typically land within a minute or so of flushing, so even if you don’t get a shot, you can see where they land and stalk them again, if you’d like.
Know Your Season
This is a given for any hunter. Snipe are allowed to be harvested in Florida from November first, to February 15th, with an eight bird bag-limit. This differs from other migratory bird species, such as dove and coot. Knowing these dates is very important, incase an opportunity arises at other species.