Snipe shooting can be difficult at times, but they are generally an easy bird to hit and offer great confidence building for the novice wing shooter. It is true that the snipe sometimes flies very erratically on windy days when he finds trouble in balancing himself while gaining sufficient momentum to progress steadily. Like other birds, too, his temper is affected by cold, raw weather, or when he is hungry and food scarce; at such times he has little hesitation about getting up well out of range and leaving promptly for some genial snip world. When flushing wild it is quite a literal statement of fact that snipe are hard to hit, for tied to a post out of gun range not many would be hurt. It appears, too, that a snipe really requires some ballast of fat if he is to sail upon an even keel, the thin little chaps surprising themselves with aerial gymnastics I the wind.
But actual snipe weather, warm sunny days, with cover good and food plentiful, snipe hunting is little more of a feat than smashing clay birds, than which there is no simpler shotgun work with which to compare.
The statement often made that the shooter should always withhold his fire until the bird is twenty-five to thirty yards distant is the height of absurdity. The same shooting principle applies to snipe that holds with any other game bird, catch him before he becomes hard. When these birds are lying well to the dog and gun they get up lazily and float away with long, easy bounds. The first jump may carry the snipe twenty feet, and then with a twist of his body he covers a half dozen yards at a more or less acute angle, but at the end of on e of these aerial leaps the bird hangs for the fraction of a second and there you can almost catch him with a rifle bullet.
The preliminary spring with accompanying saucy escape should warn the hunter and the end of the next leg of the zigzag ought to find the snipe ready to be smoothed down and placed in the bag, the man of ordinary quickness striking his mark inside of sixty feet from where it broke cover. The motion of a snipe is really something like that of a skater who shoves out first upon one foot and then the other, the bird, however making longer and quicker strokes, which becomes very choppy when he is sprinting.
There is a bit of up and down movement to the flight of a snipe under some conditions, but not a great deal, and when he is passing or circling the gun, the in and out motion is little in evidence. When going straight away the snipe’ criss-cross style is most apparent, and such shots are the hardest to achieve. It is this feature of the snipes flight that makes hunting down wind the most effective, since the bird has a preference for rising against the wind, and will then beat back, affording a crossing shot, while should the shooter walk up wind his target would likely be a straightaway. Nevertheless up wind or down wind, should the snipe rise within twenty yards he cannot escape without hazarding both barrels, of which will generally suffice.
The snipe is the gentlest and most unsuspicious of game birds. Should you miss, they will often pitch about for a few minutes, perhaps to settle down again within fifty yards of the gun for another run with the whistling shot.
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