Excerpt from “Hunting Upland Birds”, by Charles F. Waterman

With an arctic blast passing through the Willamette Valley , I’ve been spending more time looking over my bookshelf for inspiration to get me through to warmer days when snipe are able to probe the marshes again, bringing me afield.  Charles F. Waterman’s book Hunting Upland Birds caught my eye this morning, and I quickly opened to the chapter”Woodcock and Snipe”.  A slender nine page treatment, it is nonetheless satisfying and shows Waterman’s love of the diminutive bird, recalling those rare days where “they are thick today and gone tomorrow”:

“Every hunter should have a bird to feel sentimental about, and the snipe is mine, I guess.  Although I will flounder after them, wild-eyed and sweating, when more sensible shooters retire to the boat or car, there are certain places and conditions in which I don’t want to shoot snipe.  For example, I had a scraggly duck blind on a spring creek in Montana, a spot where the mallards slide in ahead of the freezes that close most other waters.   For ten years I carried my decoys along the shore of that creek, and there is one stretch where the mud is just the right consistency, with just the right gleaming water film on top.  It is a stretch about 75 yards long, and my blind sat at one end of it.  Contingents of snipe, obviously stopping off on their way south, drop into the little flat all fall, stay a few days, and leave again.  On one walk along the 75 yards, I put up thirty-one snipe, an on several occasions I have slipped a bunch of snipe loads into my coat, carefully separated from the duck ammunition, but I have never fired a shot with them.  I finally quite carrying snipe loads.”


Waterman’s book is as complete a modern survey of upland game hunting as I have encountered, and despite the few pages dedicated to the snipe, to me it is a wonderful short essay that frames in all that snipe hunting has to offer. A life long sportsman and outdoor writer, Charles Waterman passed away in 2005 at the age of 91.  Preparing for today’s entry, I found an obituary that sums his life up very nicely, which you can find here:



2 thoughts on “Excerpt from “Hunting Upland Birds”, by Charles F. Waterman

  1. I have read, that back in the “old days”, Snipe were shot from “blinds” using hand carved
    wooden decoys.
    I have not heard of this technique being currently employed, but if one could find where large concentrations of Snipe were present, and put in some time and effort, it might lead to a rather wonderful, and unique shooting experience.


  2. I have read the same, and have occasionally come across old carved snipe decoys. I agree – it would interesting to spend some time watching their behavior and seeing if you can pull them in and hunt them over decoys.


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