Go on a snipe hunt. No, really, it’s no prank.

Don’t pack your pillowcase and wander out into the woods in the middle of the night to hunt snipe around here. Snipe are actually real birds, and they’re legal to hunt. And the season’s open right now.

I’m constantly surprised by the number of people who think I’m trying to put one over on them when I tell them I’m going snipe hunting. It’s amazing how strong those childhood pranks can hold on in a person’s mind, even after years of high school and college, when they’re supposed to be learning useful things like what actual animals there are in the world that are fun to hunt.

And snipe definitely fit the fun to hunt description. Despite what you might have heard, they’re not furry little creatures that run along paths in the woods late at night, and they’re not fooled by people shouting, “here, snipe!” while holding an open pillowcase. They’re actually a fairly small, long-legged, long-billed wading bird that flies like a teal on crack.

Instead of a trail to the outhouse, try looking for the actual snipe on river banks or streams that are more muddy than rocky with slower-moving water and a shallow slope into the water. Do it pretty quick, though, because as the weather gets colder, there’ll be fewer and fewer of ‘em around.

If you do find them, be prepared to be humbled. Most people see them when they’re hunting ducks and geese, and trust me when I tell you it’s not a good idea to try to knock ‘em down with your duck or goose loads. They’re small and relatively fragile, so you’ll want very small shot for snipe. I always carry a box of steel seven-and-a-halves or even nines when I’m hunting waterfowl, just in case the snipe decide to come for a visit. If you have any hope of hitting one, you’ll need all the pellets you can get, so seven-and-a-half is a good bet. Just make sure you’re using non-toxic shot, rather than your trap loads.

I’m not pulling your leg. There really are such things as snipe, and they are fun to hunt. If you don’t believe me, Google it.