Snipe hunting is a thrilling and beautiful way to spend your time outdoors. As with all other birds, snipes can be a little bit difficult to hunt down but with perfected skills and proper equipment it becomes enjoyable.
As a matter of fact, snipe hunting can turn into an obsession, requiring several hours to prepare. The activity is very rewarding if you’re able to master it and if you’re just beginning, snipes are guaranteed to give you an amazing opportunity to have fun, polish your shotgun skills and harvest some birds.
There are several things that you need to understand as you set yourself for this fun activity. Here is your comprehensive guide for what you need to know before going on a snipe hunt:-
Find the right environment
First, your key to a successful snipe hunting experience lies in knowing where to find these small birds. Snipe prefers a habitat that’s mud filled, dark soiled and wet areas as this provides them with the best environment to find their food.
The small birds normally use their long, thin beaks to dig out worms and bugs and search through the soil with ease. Marshes, flag ponds and places with soft soil are appropriate for snipe habitation.
It’s easy to mistake some other birds such as sandpipers and killdeers for snipe. However, the distinction comes in the noise they make plus their unpredictable zigzag escape they make when flushed out of these areas.
Have the right attire
Having known where to find snipe, having the correct gear should be your next concern. Gearing up accordingly will help you access the marshes and flag ponds in a better way.
As such, you’ll need waterproof boots and these can be used for other outdoor activities such as fishing. There’re different waterproof boot brands in the market thus giving you many options to work with. Considering that you will be walking in places with overgrown shrubs and grass, pants will be a good idea to protect your tender legs from cuts and scratches.
Also make sure to have a bird vest since this is a necessity as you will need to carry your killed birds, shells and other essentials such as drinking water to quench your thirst on those long walks and sunny days.
When snipe hunting, it’s possible to successfully kill many birds but go home empty handed. This is because snipe is a pro as far as camouflaging is concerned and losing your kill is very easy. To avoid this kind of a problem, always keep an eye on the falling birds and try to keenly locate where they fall.
With the tall grass and shrubs, it’s easy to hit a bird and have it disappear through the thickets especially if it does not die immediately once shot. In some cases, the bird can fall to the ground while still alive and crawl through the grass only to die at a different spot.
As such, always seek to keep your eyes on the price well aware that you can easily hit it and still lose it.
Keep your eyes to the sky
If you flush a flock of snipes but can’t connect, just stay calm and keep your eyes to the sky. Snipe will always fly low and in large numbers closely knit to each other. As they take to the sky, just know they’ll be landing in their next spot within a few seconds.
In some cases, they will also fly towards your direction which could give you an easy shot. After flushing however, the snipes will be back to the ground within a minute and this allows you to stalk them again for a chance to aim and hit your target.
Understand the hunting season
Any hunter clearly understands the best season especially when dealing with migratory birds or animals in general. Different states also have regulations that determine the harvesting season for snipe plus the bag limit.
As such, it’s good to appreciate that snipe hunting isn’t an all-year round activity and the number of birds you can harvest is restricted as well. Snipe hunting is different from other migratory birds such as coot and doves and knowing your dates will be very important.
Make sure you have the right shotgun
The choice of a shotgun can make the difference between your snipe hunt success or failure. Having a reliable shotgun is paramount and this should be one that you’re comfortable shooting.
While there are many shotguns available, the most basic consideration when going out to hunt should be your comfort. How comfortable and confident are you when shooting? Whether using SxS, Semi auto or pump, your success is largely dependent on your confidence and comfort.
That said, it’s good to note that snipe hunting does take between 12-gauge to .410 as far as gauge is concerned.
However, the bigger the shotguns gauge, the better the shots downrange. This however comes with a downside in that the great propensity will also cause damage on the meat. When it comes to snipe hunting, it’d be better to go for gauges 28, 20 and 16 but if you have gauge 12, this also would work. The gauge 12 can serve for both snipe and waterfowl harvesting and these two hunting seasons normally overlap meaning you’re still good to go.
A good mount will also help
It’s also good to choose the right shot size before going on a snipe hunt. Basically, a pellet or two will knock snipe down and working with numbers 7 ½ to 9 shot will provide you with the mark down-to-shot count you need. When it comes to non-toxic regulations, it’s good to know those applicable to your local hunting since these vary.
Also, if you need to use a M1A scope mount for enhanced chances, then it’d be in order to have one. You can check out for the best M1A scope mount reviews to help you shoot with accuracy and increase your chances of a greater harvest.
A good gun mount comes into play especially when you consider that snipe never flies straight. Unlike clay target and other birds, snipe are erratic and fast in their flying strategy which requires tight focus to target.
However, this can help teach the best shooting skills. With an ideal gun mount, focusing the target and firing your gut can be easy especially when the butt comes into contact with your shoulders. With this in mind, you’ll understand why snipe hunting snipe hunting gave birth to the word “sniper” in 1770. A snipe can fly at a speed of 60 miles per hour and as such, skill is required to hit the target.
Hunting like no other
It helps to note that while most other game hunting does require decoying, calling or fancy dog work, snipe hunting is straight forward. You do not need a dog to locate the snipe flocks and a single bird will always be an indicator of the bunch you need to aim your shotgun at.
However, using a dog is optional and still helpful as they can help you locate the fallen birds that blend so well and camouflage with the vegetation. The disadvantage of working with a dog is that snipe do not work well when it comes to pointing dogs.
Training is also a great plus to consider especially when it comes to the shooting process. While it might be easy to hunt most other big birds and animals, the small birds can be a little bit tricky to bring down if you do not know how to aim properly or use your shotgun. It’s not all lost however as the big swam of spine increases the chances of hitting one out of the many hundreds or thousands that fly nearby when flushed.
When hunting snipe, patience is essential for your success. In fact, if you learn the behavior of this little bird, it becomes very easy to predict their movements and this can increase your chances of shooting them down. Snipe understandingly bring a hint to class.
Their long beaks serve as a opportune indicator as to which direction they’ll fly and this can serve as an amazing lead to help you know where to aim and shoot.
Hunting snipe is more than a mere shooting lesson and the experience gives you more than just mere targets. As you walk in the marshy, muddy habitat with as many shells as your bird vest can carry, a snipe the flies nearby isn’t a chance for you to practice your shooting skills but the actual moment to enjoy the real thing.