snipe hunting AR

Snipe Hunting in Arkansas – They’re Real!

To go snipe hunting in Arkansas, you will need a burlap sack, a peanut butter sandwich, a large group of friends, and the ability to whistle.

Taking someone on a snipe hunting trip in Arkansas is an age-old prank.

When it comes to snipe hunting, I have never been the student but I have been the teacher. I remember taking a group of friends snipe hunting in college.

We had convinced one of our friends that snipe were nocturnal birds. Instead of flying, they do a lot of running. We told her that you have to hide yourself behind a tree and hold your stack out beside it. The idea is to get someone else to tap sticks together to attract the snipe.

The rest of us told her we were going to herd the bird toward her. Actually, we went back to the house and left her there.

Ultimately, most night hunting trips end in a lot of laughter and that was definitely true for ours!

snipe in Arkansas
Snipe in Arkansas

The History of Snipe Hunting

The snipe hunt is a kind of fool’s errand or wild-goose chase, meaning a fruitless errand or expedition, attested as early as the 1840s in the United States. It was the most common hazing ritual for boys in American summer camps during the early 20th century, and is a rite of passage often associated with groups such as the Boy Scouts. -source

How to Go Snipe Hunting in Arkansas

There are many variations on how to go snipe hunting in Arkansas.

Recently, my former youth pastor informed me that you have to eat a peanut butter sandwich while holding the bag open. Obviously, this presents a few problems.

Do you hold the bag open with one hand and eat the peanut butter sandwich with the other? Do you have to have a friend help you hold the bag open while they eat a peanut butter sandwich too?

He went on to say that you also have to sit hidden behind a bush while holding the burlap sack open. Then, you must whistle like a snipe while you eat your sandwich. He said they should run right into the bag if you do it right.

I told him that I was a little confused on what a “snipe whistle” sounds like and I asked him if he would share a video of himself whistling like a snipe. He said, “No, that’s proprietary information. It’s only divulged to actual hunters.”
It definitely sounds to me like he is an expert snipe hunter. I will make a note to never go snipe hunting with him because I am not good at whistling.

Arkansas Wilson's snipe
Snipe flying

By the way, I have also heard that snipe love chocolate. So, it might also be a good idea to take a Hershey bar in your pocket.

Snipe Hunting Variations

In Arkansas, I have only heard of a snipe being described as a little, running ground bird. However, there are variations of the description of a snipe.

I recently heard someone describe the snipe as a psychedelic-colored ground bird. There might have even been a mention of glitter in the description.

Setting the stage for the prank is often done with imaginative descriptions of the snipe, similar to tall tales. For instance, the snipe is said to resemble a cross between a jackrabbit and a squirrel; a squirrel-like bird with one red and one green eye; a small, black, furry bird-like animal that only comes out during a full moon, and so on. -source

Snipe have also been described as snakes, small furry animals like squirrels, and even deer.

When did the snipe hunt become a practical joke?

Snipe hunting, as a practical joke, dates back to the 1840s.

Why do people do the snipe hunt at camp?

Taking someone on a snipe hunt is sometimes used as a way of initiation into a group. Ultimately, everyone gets a big laugh at the expense of the person holding the bag.

Snipe hunts are always good natured and fun.

What’s the difference between a snipe hunt and a prank?

There is no real difference between a snipe hunt and a prank because both are meant to trick someone. Although a snipe is a real bird, a snipe hunt usually involves hunting for an imaginary creature.

Are snipe real?

Yes and no.

If you thought “snipe hunting” was just a prank played on gullible kids, think again. Snipe are real, and they’re very sporty game birds. About 30,000 hunters pursue them each year in the U.S., killing almost 100,000. Hunting grounds include open marshes, mud flats, rice fields and open pond edges. -source

Wilson's Snipe in Wetlands
Wilson’s Snipe in Wetlands

Although a snipe hunt involves hunting for a mythical creature, there are real snipe in Arkansas.

The snipe in Arkansas are called “Wilson’s Snipe.”

Wilson’s snipe (Gallinago delicata) is a small, stocky shorebird. The genus name gallinago is New Latin for a woodcock or snipe from Latin gallina, “hen” and the suffix -ago, “resembling”. The specific delicata is Latin for “dainty”. -source

When is Snipe Season in Arkansas?

Snipe season in Arkansas is November 1st through February 15th.
The daily limit is 8 and the possession limit is 24.

Visit the AGFC website for updated information.

Reported Snipe Sightings in Arkansas

Eagle Watch Nature Trail in Gentry Arkansas
Fish Hatchery in Centerton, Arkansas
Miller County, Arkansas
Mena, Arkansas
Bald Knob, Arkansas National Wildlife Refuge
Greene County, Arkansas

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