What Is Snipe Hunting?

Snipe Hunting details for snipe hunter

If you’re on this page, I’m more than sure about your curiosity regarding “What Is Snipe hunting”. Or else you would’ve never searched for the term or clicked on the link to this page.

Well I can assure you’re at the right place. That’s all this article is about. The length and breadth of the following topics are encompassed within this article:-

What is a Snipe?

  • Snipe Behavior
  • Snipe Food habits
  • Snipe habitat.
  • Special ability

Is hunting Snipes illegal?

What is Snipe hunting?

  • Snipe hunting etymology.
  • Snipe Hunting Methods
  • Torch and Gong
  • Night-lightening.
  • Summing it Up.

But before getting into the details of Snipe hunting, let’s understand the basics.

What is a Snipe?

Before I can explain to you what Snipe hunting is, you need to understand what a “Snipe” is. (And nope, it’s not even remotely related to “snipers”.)

What Is Snipe Hunting?

Most people take “Snipe hunting” to be a myth, meaning there’s this misconception that Snipes don’t exist, and it’s just a practical joke. Well it’s not, and Snipes do exist so lets get familiar.

A snipe is a bird species belonging to the “Waders” class, and are primarily identified by their long-bills with around 25 different birds belonging to the species.

They are found almost all across the globe, ofcourse the exact class of the birds found across different parts of the globe differs significantly.

Is Hunting Snipes Illegal?

No it’s not. It’s classified under “LC” according to the IUCN 3.1 (Source Wikipedia) , which means “Least Concern”. So they aren’t considered threatened or feared extinction.

Also, Snipe Hunting doesn’t generally involve “killing” the birds, as their economical value isn’t a lot, hence they’re trapped and released afterwards. Even when shot with the best recurve bow, the arrow isn’t  always “lethal”.

Snipe Behavior:

You need to understand the Snipe’s behavior if you’re trying to hunt snipes.

These birds are well known for their camouflage, so it’s not easy spotting them.  Also, rather than searching for a Snipe on trees and branches, you should look closer to the ground because that’s where they mostly are.

A Snipe doesn’t reveal itself unless it’s of extreme urgency, so you need to be sufficiently close to a Snipe to be able to flush it out.

You can also mark them by their “sound” which they make when they’re flushed, the sound sounds something like “escape escape” (phonetically).

Snipe Food Habits:

The Snipe is known to search for and devour on invertebrates found in mud and moist soil. You must have noticed the fast-paced pecking action of a bird in the soil, well if you have then you’ve spotted a snipe.

The beak of a Snipe acts as a multi-purpose organ as it lets it hunt for food, as well as more or less acts as it’s “feeler”. The Snipe uses it’s beak to feel and decide if the object it’s encountering is worth it’s time or not.

Snipe Habitat:

I’m pretty sure you’ve guessed by now the location where you can spot or hunt for a Snipe. Wet grounds, swamps, and riverbanks ofcourse.

What Is Snipe Hunting?

Basically any place that’s wet and moist is loved by snipes.

Special Ability:

Snipes are capable of “camouflaging” which let’s them hide their presence using their surroundings and their environment.

That’s how “snipe hunting” became popular, which is the title and primary topic of this article which we will discuss now.

What is Snipe Hunting?

Snipe Hunting is both a common-phrase, used to describe a practical joke (fools’ errand), as well as a real activity in itself as well.

It actually meant the act of hunting Snipes (the bird). The only point being, snipes are extremely fast and their flight pattern and fast movement makes it almost impossible to hunt them. So in short it was a near to impossible task.

While the other meaning of it as a phrase is used to describe a practical joke. A joke that’s used by one person or a group of people on new-comers to a town, job, or anything in general.

This joke includes the experienced or older people in the profession giving impossible tasks to the newcomers. One very popular example is the joke used by chefs and cooks in Northern America, where the new guy is asked to borrow a “cup of steam” from the other restaurant or hotel.

Also sometimes, the actual task of going on a “snipe hunt” is used as the practical joke, where you’re led by your group on a Snipe hunt, and you’ll be mislead by them by the use of various sounds and tricks, only to find out in the morning that you’ve wasted a perfect night on a fools’ errand as there wasn’t any snipe in the first place.

Now the joke was named Snipe hunting for the reason that it’s impossible to accomplish those tasks just like it’s impossible to hunt a snipe.

Although for the scope of this complete website, it’s important for you to keep in mind that we would be dealing with the Snipe hunting related to the birds only, and not the practical joke.

Snipe-Hunting Etymology:

There are two different etymologies existing for the term.

  1. The first one is ofcourse that it’s called “Snipe” hunting, well because it’s “Snipe” hunting where snipes are hunted.
  2. The second observation is that, because of their camouflage ability, Snipes hide themselves when they sense danger as I’ve already mentioned, so the hunter had to have the skills of a real sniper in order to hunt the snipes, and so comes the name.

Snipe-hunting Methods:

There are quite a number of articles on the Internet on “What is snipe hunting?”, but almost none on the “methods of Snipe Hunting”, and that’s why I’m incorporating it over here.

There’s no “official” method to Snipe hunting that has been laid down by some type of Federation or Sports organization. Instead they get named after the process or tools used during the hunt.

Torch and Gong:

So the Torch and Gong method was instead name after the tools used during the Snipe hunt. This method has three requirements:

This is box title
  • A Torch.
  • A Gong.
  • Moonless night.
  • Bird Seeds.

The hunter needs to search for Snipes in the wild near water bodies, or any other place where Snipes are likely to be found.

Or, you can use the Bird seeds. Just throw away some seeds on the ground, walk away from the place and wait till a Snipe comes out.

What Is Snipe Hunting?

The “Torch” is used to illuminate the path for the hunter as well as for blinding the Snipe. Considering it’s a Moonless night, the light of the torch suddenly on the Snipe blinds and confuses it.

The Gong, on the other hand helps you mask your movement sound when you keep beating the gong continuously.

So once you’re close enough to a Snipe, and you’ve blinded it, this “confused” state is the perfect time for you to throw your net/bag over the Snipe and catch it.


It’s yet another method used by Snipe hunters to hunt for snipes. It has only two basic requirements:-

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  • A truck.
  • Spotlights on the truck.

The truck is fitted with spotlights, which acts as the “torch” in this case to blind the Snipes. And a catcher rides along the front of the truck who uses his net/bags to catch the snipes.

Summing it Up:

So that was all I could scribble down for this “What is Snipe Hunting?” article folks. I hope this piece helped?

I tried to cover most of the basic as well as common tactics and information related to Snipes and Snipe hunting, but if I’ve missed something I’d be glad to hear it from your end in the comment boxes.