‘a specimen of the smallest variety of jack-snipe’

Carruthers hasn’t talked enough about shooting since he acquired his Lancasters back in September. At last on October 16, he bothers to get his gun out, but all he manages to bag is a jack snipe. Not very impressive.

Jack snipes are rather lovely little things – tiny even. One bird alone would certainly not make a meal.  And they’re not even that much of a challenge to catch, it seems – unlike their larger cousins, the common snipe.

Lymnocryptes_minimus_(Marek_Szczepanek)

“Lymnocryptes minimus (Marek Szczepanek)” by Marek Szczepanek – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Snipe shooting is apparently quite a tricky art because the birds are smaller than, say, a duck or a pheasant, and have an erratic zig-zag flight. The jack snipe, on the other hand, has a straight flight, and quite often doesn’t fly off at all. Instead it tries to rely on camouflage and a curious ability to leave no scent, so that it’s perfectly possible to walk to within a few feet of one before it flies off. My sense is that it might be just as easy to ‘net’ a jack-snipe as to shoot one. For the full lowdown on hunting snipe, I recommend http://www.thesnipehunter.com/page33.html

Having now watched a few videos of the little blighters, with their curious warble and  cute ‘bobbing action’, I really can’t see the fun in trying to blast them out of the sky. Thankfully, it’s actually illegal to hunt jack snipe in England, Wales & Scotland (although you can still go to Northern Ireland and kill them if you really must).

I can’t find any evidence of people on Spiekeroog taking pot shots at snipe. Rabbits, though, are clearly fair game. In November, it looks like the men of the island have a blast, not only shooting rabbits, but playing their horns over the dead bodies and then getting their cleavers and knives out for a jolly night of communal butchery. (the hunting starts at 32:08…)

I’m assuming there are sound environmental reasons for this mass slaughter. Rabbits wouldn’t exactly be welcome on an island so prone to erosion and flooding. I’d say it’s almost worth staying on a month after the ROTS adventure ends just to join in and save the sand dunes from warren-related disaster. Alas, Lloyd (not Davies) is not so keen. These city folk are so squeamish sometimes.

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