In October, I was duck hunting with some friends, and the snipe just wouldn’t leave us alone. They were coming into the duck decoys in groups of 20 or 30, then they’d flutter out for a while before coming right back in. We could have had some entertaining and challenging shooting, but we weren’t sure if the season was open. We had our late migratory bird orders with us, but snipe aren’t listed there. It wasn’t until we left the blind and were headed home before we found out that we’d have been perfectly legal to take some shots at the snipe.
Other than not knowing if they were in season or not, I was prepared for them. I had a box of number seven steel shot in my blind bag, and when they came in, they gave us plenty of time to switch loads. If we’d had our early migratory bird regulations in the blind, we’d have known the season is open from September first through December sixteenth, and the daily limit is eight. We’d have had trouble limiting out, even with the birds being extremely cooperative, because from past experience, I know they’re very hard to hit.
When I went back to the same area in late November, I was ready. I had my number seven steel shot along with my early migratory orders in my blind bag. Unfortunately, there’s a reason snipe are listed in the early migratory regulations. They had apparently all left for warmer climes between my trips. We didn’t see a single snipe the whole time we were there.
It was a good lesson, though. I learned to always pack all the regulations for every species I’m likely to see when I head outdoors, and to read the regs ahead of time to make sure I’m not missing anything that might be in other rule books. I’ll also remember now that snipe bug out before the big flocks of ducks and geese come through. Just to be safe, though, I’m leaving the number sevens in the bag.