“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers” – Wm. Shakespeare, Henry V
Those of us who chase after snipe seem to be a rare breed. In the United States, it can be hard to convince people, unless they are sportsmen or naturalists, that the bird actually exists, and that it’s not just some mythical thing made up for playing pranks. But all the better for the snipe hunter – it leaves us plenty of space and opportunity for us to pursue our sport.
Like most snipe hunters, I think of myself as an avid sportsman. I enjoy fly fishing, upland game shooting and large game hunting whenever I can take the opportunities to do so. But when the snipe season ends and my sporting pursuits change with the seasons, my mind will wander back to reflections on the snipe – how the last season went, what can I do to improve my shooting before next season, and counting the months, weeks and days until I can get out again. More often than not, I will find myself thinking about snipe miles up a river late in the winter steelhead season, or by the campfire after a long day of hunting.
I also reflect on the excellent writings I’ve come across over my years of wingshooting that have provided so much inspiration and joy. There are many classics that talk about snipe and snipe shooting, from the incredible seasonal tallies of J.J. Pringle, to Lord Walsingham and Sir Ralph Payne-Gallway, who note on snipe shooting that “this subject is indeed a puzzler”, to so many others. In particular, my off-season reading will cycle through Worth Mathewson’s excellent “Reflections on Snipe. Highly recommended if you have not read it.
Far less frequently encountered is the snipe in literature, and for this reason I’ve decided to assemble any and all literary references, short stories, poems and the like into one place for others who may find them of interest. Along the way, I hope to share some pictures and reflections of my own and of friends who share the love of snipe.
I’m far from being a literary professional, and at times I feel barely literate. But I do enjoy reading, especially when it comes to the outdoors. So I make no pretenses about being expert on the topic; I just want to share the literary references to the game bird I love best with others who are smitten with the same passion.