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Les Becassines

Walked up shooting

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How many of you hunt birds in this manner? In the states most of our birds are shot over pointing or flushing dogs but I have always done better walking up snipe. I have a setter and he has been out on his share of snipe hunts but it is more for his enjoyment and exercise. If the basis for going was success he would be a liability and not an asset. I like the surprise of the flush and I believe I actually shoot better than I would over points due to the shooting being more of a reflex than when shooting over a point. Any thoughts?

 

Skip

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HEY SKIP ! i spent 10 years in your neck of the woods , dont know what state you are in though,

i would think that we use mainly flushing or retrieving dogs,over here, and the pointers are the minority,

then of course we have HPRs whitch will do everything?

 

its a personal thing, but i like the idea of shooter,handler,and dog, all there together

bit like stalking birds,

 

keep your powder dry, all the best from scotland.

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Skip to me walked up hunting with dogs and shotgun is the best way to hunt i use english springer spanials to flush game no pointing just find and flush you get to read the dogs body language as they work out in front and to me part of the thrill is you don't know if the flush will be ground game or a bird i think thats why i miss so much or it could be i can't shoot straight but to be out all day working your dog taking a few head of game for the freezer is the best type of gun and dog work there is.This is what i call rough shooting.

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Skip,

 

We provide a lot of rough walked up days for our clients, It's the most prefered type of game shooting asked for by our guns. We probably provide about 180 client days throughout the season so I'm out and about on the rough shoots about 3-5 times a week!

 

Here are 2 Dutch clients after their 2 days shooting last week,

 

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Total bag for the 2 days was 33 Mallard, 21 Pheasant, 6 Grey Partridge, 6 Grouse, 2 snipe and 1 Woodpigeon.

 

One of the guys enjoyed it so much he proposed to his girlfriend on the Grouse Moor after the shooting!!!

 

Cheers,

Mark.

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Longrange, I am in Florida. We don't have pheasnt, grouse, more than a handful of woodcock, and only the remainder of a wild Bobwhite quail population. What we do have is ducks and snipe. When the water is up I hunt ducks and when it is low I hunt snipe. I prefer when it is low.

 

Hily, that is how some people here hunt pheasant and some day I would like to try that.

 

Mark, that is a fine bag. I recognize the two little birds at the bottom left of the first picture. I'm sure those clients were satisfied with the day of shooting. I know I would have been.

 

I do my snipe shooting on shallow lakes that are in a dry cycle. The pictures below are some examples taken over the last couple of seasons that will give an idea of what the snipe habitat in my area looks like.

 

This area was under water six months prior to the picture being taken. A year later the cover would have filled in better but by that time the water was had returned and was 5' deep. There is no concealment for the hunter and very few birds sit tight enough to let you approach to within fifty yards before flushing. This is the kind of place to go if you want to challenge yourself.

 

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This area offer much better concealment with grass between knee and thigh high. Unfortunately the ground is too dry and the grass too thick so it holds no birds. A couple hundred yards further ahead is where the water and therefore the birds are. It's also where the cover starts getting much shorter and thinner.

 

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I really like the way this shoreline looks. As gradual as the grade changes you can see that it is a slow transition from water on the left to ground, or at least mud, on the right. There are enough taller clumps of grass offering enough concealment that a reasonable percentage of birds will allow me to get within 20-25 yards before they flush. Any that waits until I am any closer than that before flushing is in deep trouble.

 

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An area like this will always hold birds. You can see that the ground is right at water level and as flat as it is this same type of water/ground/vegetation ratio extends to the trees and taller brown grass in the distance.

 

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This is just frost but I call it Florida snow. It has been 35 years since the ground was white with snow and on that day there was maybe 2" on the ground at the most. This is another shoreline area and you can see the path just to my left from me walking the area a couple of times each week over the course of a season. I am probably 20-25 yards off the water which is close as I can hope to get to birds in cover as short as it gets that late in the season. This is another area where a dog would be a disadvantage for me.

 

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I included this one just because of the rainbow. Actually I am standing in an area that is sparse like you see at the bottom of the picture. This barren area was left when the water receded quickly. When it already low a 1' drop in water level can move the shoreline 50' or more. The water is behind me and there is nothing between me and it. There's nowhere for man nor dog to hide here. If I hunt with someone else I will put them ahead by maybe 25 yards and out to my right where they at least have knee deep cover. I don't get any shots but hopefully some of the birds will cross in front of them.

 

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Here is a picture of the old man in early 2006. At the time he was 11.

 

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Here is another picture around the same time. He walked straight to the spot and locked up. I wish he'd have shown better form with his tail. He was zigzagging in front of me and was about to get back on shore. What he didn't know is the bird left when he was still fifty yards further away and splashing his way back toward it. I saw the bird flush but he didn't. When he pointed the first time I got the camera out but before I took the picture he moved forward about 5' causing the ripples on the water. I didn't want to chance him breaking point again so I took the picture before the water had time to settle.

 

snipehunter02.jpg

Edited by Les Becassines

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les i just looked through your site snipe hunter and thought what a superb area you have to hunt some really good pictures too it puts the uk to shame but i guess we do have some great land to shoot and hunt ,the snipe are a trult fantastic bird to shopot or miss as the case maybe , for me here its the woodcock i have much admiration for this truly sporting quarry to see them lift turn and jink in fifht makes the hairs stand on end then its too late there gone a shot missed but hey ho theres always next time thanks for sharing your gallery cheers rob

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Rob, thank you for the remarks on the website. Yesterday my season for snipe opened and I was at the lake an hour before it got light. I was really eager to do some shooting. I was shooting a new gun, or at least one that is new to me. It is eighty years old but I just got it this past spring and yesterday was the first time I shot it. The limit here is eight snipe per day. I shot my limit but I had to cover a couple of miles to do it.

 

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I already showed a couple of pictures of my dog but I don't think I said much about him. He will be fourteen in a couple of months so he doesn't have the stamina to hunt anymore. When I get home from hunting I always plant some dead birds out in the yard for him to find. Yesterday he was having trouble finding one and while I cast him in the direction where it was he never could catch its scent. Finally I walked over to see what the problem was and I couldn't find it either. I did notice a couple of feathers on the ground and then I saw a few falling like snowflakes from the sky. It seems that a hawk decided that he needed my bird more than I did so he helped himself to it. I went inside and got a camera so I could get a picture of him high in a tree. Unfortunately it is blurry but you can still see the white breast of the snipe laying on the tree branch. I have been planting birds for him for several years and that was the first time a thief from the air ever stole one.

 

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Joe we have two rabbits here, the cottontail and the marsh rabbit. They will mostly stick to the woods unless they can stay in heavy briars or brambles. If they venture out into the open very far they won't be around long due to getting caught by one of a number of raptors that are common. There is always several in the air and on most days I flush a couple from the ground when out on the flats. It can be startling when an unseen bird with a 3'-4' wingspan takes off right in front of you. I like them (when they aren't stealing my snipe out of my yard) because they do a better job than anything else of keeping the snake population under control. Alligators eat some and so do the large wading birds but the hawks get the bulk of the snakes. The cottonmouth is a venomous water snake in the pit viper family that is quite common. I took this picture Saturday of a battle between one and a blue heron. As I was retrieving a downed snipe I discovered this. Either the blue heron choked to death or he succumbed to the bite of the snake. Either way, neither made it.

 

Skip

 

 

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well, if you are ever out here in Ireland, I can show you to some good snipe shooting. have you any photos of the rabbits? No snakes or alligators here to be bother you .

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Hi Skip,

 

Fascinating stuff, it's great to get an insight into the sporting scene in other countries.

 

I've found that when specifically hunting Snipe rather than just as part of a mixed day that it's best to just have a retriever walking at heel and not to have a dog hunting at all. They tend to be quite jumpy anyway and flush readily whereas they can be very difficult to find when you do shoot one.

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Hi Skip,

 

Fascinating stuff, it's great to get an insight into the sporting scene in other countries.

 

I've found that when specifically hunting Snipe rather than just as part of a mixed day that it's best to just have a retriever walking at heel and not to have a dog hunting at all. They tend to be quite jumpy anyway and flush readily whereas they can be very difficult to find when you do shoot one.

 

that is good advice. Lately, I just take out my sheepdog. He does the retrieving for me. I have him at heel but watch his nose from the corner of my eye, to see where he is interested in.

Joe Kelly

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Any dog used at the lakes where I hunt snipe would almost always have to be kept at heel and used only to locate dead birds. Unfortunately even if kept directly beside me a dog would be more of a liability than an asset. The conditions alone can be dangerous but when venomous snakes and alligators are factored in I'd rather not take the chance except when conditions minimize the odds of running into either. Those odds are minimized when water levels drop quickly exposing mud flats that are void of dense vegetation. The downside is that those conditions are also when the birds are least approachable due to the lack of cover. Below is the path I most often take when leaving my truck. It is about a half mile long and the water comes to within a couple of inches of the top of my hip waders. That would mean a half mile swim for a dog just to get to ground where its head would be above water when standing.

 

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Then I start crossing deep holes and gator wallows which have to be negotiated carefully due to the depth. They are not only too deep for a dog to stand in but most are choked with vegetation. In the picture below you can't even tell that this hole is full of water except by the vegetation that is present. Just before taking the picture I shot a sora that I had to retrieve from it. You can see that these conditions would challenge any dog, especially after the swim that was already required of it just to get out to the open lake.

 

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Here is the sora as well as an indication of the depth of the water and the density of the grass.

 

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The sora is a rail and is probably related to your corncrake. It is out smallest (or lightest) legal game bird in the states. I often use a four-ten for shooting them because that particular one is small and light. On days when the temperature will be in the upper eighties to ninety degrees I need to make everything as comfortable as possible so I don't get heatstroke.

 

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Is there a downside for me hunting without a dog? Of course there is when considering the camaraderie that I miss out on. However, concern for the dog's wellbeing also has to factored in and these marshes just aren't the best place for a dog. Would a good nose result in fewer lost birds? That depends on how adept someone is at marking them down. I know the time I spend looking for some birds would be diminished. In Colin McKelvie's book on Snipe and Woodcock he states that a large number of snipe will go un-recovered if hunting snipe without a retriever. I am afraid I have to respectfully disagree with that assertion. It might be the case for many folks and it certainly would for others but the technique of the hunter plays a large role in the equation. When a bird hits the ground I focus on a particular clump or even piece of grass as my mark. On the way to it my eye never comes off that mark. When another bird flushes or something else happens that could be a distraction you have to be disciplined enough to not look away. If you do the likelihood of losing the bird is very high.

 

I keep a detailed register and the last time I lost a bird was during the 2005-06 season. I lost two birds that season as well as two birds the previous season. However, for the remainder of that season and the two seasons since I have recovered the five hundred-sixty one consecutive snipe that I have shot including the eight to start the season last weekend. Dog or not, that ain't bad record of recovery. That includes birds that dropped stone dead, birds that sailed one hundred yards or more before falling, and lightly hit birds that flew again when I approached them after they had been hit. As a general rule of thumb a dog should help make the hunt more enjoyable and successful but based on the variety of conditions where we all hunt that might not necessarily be the case. Most often that is the case for me.

 

Instead I take a different hunting buddy along. She gets a little uneasy about some of the stuff she has to walk through but she feels safe enough that she will follow me. She's even getting better marking my downed birds for me.

 

Skip

 

 

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Edited by Les Becassines

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HI skip, i understand your difficulty in shooting the areas that you hunt

i guess the elusive double! would be out of the question? especially

as you have to mark one bird!.

if you ever get the chance to hunt in ireland, south devon, or some of the

outer hebrides in scotland you might be surprised by the amount you can shoot.

 

i lived in the south for 5 years, and after being adopted by the lads!

was invited to join their snipe SWAT TEAM !

on many occasions we killed over 100 - 150 in a day.

when i was a keeper on one of the islands, they talked about my boss,

who in his youth, on a walk up my river beat, killed over 200 snipe

to his own gun, and went on to kill 395 head!

CAN you imagine!

also remember woodcock record shot, or timberdoodles,

as you call them, in co mayo, lord oronmorebrown 400+

 

those were the days cheers :D

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