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Les Becassines

Walked up shooting

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Guest ESS
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.

 

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I have just sent a Springer pup to Oregon where it will be used to hunt quail ,and pheasant I believe the quail over there is the size of partridge?

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Longrange, it would be great to have lived at a time and in a place where large bags were recorded. It might not be fashionable to make such a statement today but that is how I honestly feel. I am not well educated on the geography of Ireland so I have to look at a map to see where you are talking about. Yesterday I mailed a training collar to a friend from the snipe forum that lives in Co. Tyrone. I'm sure you know where that is.

 

Doubles are a rarity for me. Again I must turn to the game register for an accurate account. It seems the last left and right came on February 4, 2005. Both birds flushed from a shoreline over shallow and open water. It was one of those lucky times when the opportunity, the conditions, and the shots were all as they had to be.

 

The season before last I took a report pair (can I count that as half of a double?) with the second bird flushing at the sound of the shot. While that doesn't constitute a double the job of recovering both birds was the same as if it was one. I took the first bird straight out in front as it crossed from left to right. The second bird was sitting within a couple of yards of the first and flushed going away to the left. I fired at it seemingly without any conscious thought. It was totally an instinctive or reflexive reaction even though I know better than to show a lack of discipline like that. In spite of the ground cover being somewhat sparse and with both birds taken at no more than twenty yards I still had a bit of a time locating the second bird. The situation is still vivid today. I had that brief snapshot picture of where the first bird was and how it was moving when taken as well as the mark on the second bird. Before moving from where the shots were taken I looked at the vicinity of where the first bird would be and then back to my mark on the second bird. I did this a couple of times before dropping a bandanna and going to the first bird. After finding it fairly easy I approached the second but from a different angle. You know how well those buggers blend in and 90% or more of them land belly down so there is nothing white to spot. After going back to where the shot was taken and narrowing the area down to just a few yards I was able to recover bird number two.

 

Then there are the oddball shots. On October 24, 1990 and November 13, 2004 I accidentally killed two birds with one shot. On the earlier date it was a bird crossing to my right. At or just after the shot I caught a glimpse of a bird moving right to left and perhaps just a few yards further behind the one I was shooting at. They seemed to both cease their wing beats at the same time and fall to the ground in a synchronized movement yet with their momentum still moving each away from the other. I still think it is the greatest shot I have pulled off in spite of it being unplanned and unexpected. The shot four years ago was a bird crossing low from left to right. Just before I touched the trigger a bird flushed straight out in front of me. It never made it above the top of the grass. It wasn't until I was picking up the bird I shot at that I noticed the crippled bird five yards away. Had I killed it instead of winging it I would have never known I hit it or even that it was there.

 

A short while later I called my wife because I needed to gloat. She asked how much shooting I had done and I told her I had only fired for times. When she asked how many I had in the bag my reply was "oh, just five". In typical fashion and to get the shot ratio up to average I spent ten cartridges taking the last three birds.

 

Below is a page from the website that I made as a dedication to a snipe hunter from the states. He hunted southen plantations starting shortly after our civil war ended in the latter part of the nineteenth century.

 

My snipe hunting hero :D

 

 

 

ESS, you are correct that partridges and quail are the same size and both terms are used by some hunters when talking about the same bird. Oregon has a number of small quail or partridge sized birds. They have Chukar, Gray (or Hungarian) Partridge, California (or Valley) Quail, and Mountain Quail. Moving up in size they also have several grouse species (Ruffed, Blue, Sage, Spruce, and Sharptail). Add the Ring-Neck to all the other opportunities and you have plenty of variety there.

 

Skip

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You should write an article in some of the shooting magazines over here. Whats that snipe forum? I would like to have a look. Thanks. How do you know there wont be any alligators in that water? Your a brave man. Joe Kelly

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You should write an article in some of the shooting magazines over here. Whats that snipe forum? I would like to have a look. Thanks. How do you know there wont be any alligators in that water? Your a brave man. Joe Kelly

 

Joe, the snipe forum is a small discussion group that is connected to my website. It is just a few handfuls of active but mostly dedicated snipe hunters. I don't know what the rules are here about advertising other discussion forums and I want to be respectful and within the rules. I usually have it so only registered members can access it during hunting season but I will unlock it until about this time tomorrow so anyone here that wants to can look around. The link in my signature will take you to the website and either the banner picture with the guy in the marsh at the top of the page or the link below the couple of paragraphs on the main page will get you to the forum.

 

Because gators are cold blooded when the water starts cooling down they head to shore where they spend the winter usually in a den that they have dug. It is on days early in the season (meaning now) and on unseasonably warm days during winter and early spring when I am most likely to catch them out sunning. Below are some examples of indications that you are in an area where gators are.

 

 

This is a gator wallow, or actually it is two wallows next to each other. The three largest lakes (4000-6000 acres) that I hunt are all controlled by sinkholes. When the underground aquifer gets low due to drought they can flush, literally draining in a day. When that happens the gators that aren't also flushed start looking for water. They make wallows that are circular and easily recognizable. They stay in them until they figure out that the water isn't returning anytime soon. Even when the water returns you can tell where they are because the water will be several feet deeper and grasses that grow in shallow water won't grow in them. They leave almost perfect circles of open water in areas that are otherwise covered with grass. If it was active you would see one or more trails leading to it.

 

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An active trail like this one connecting two wallows would be another pretty good sign that you are in the immediate area of at least one alligator. The specific details including the sizes of footprints and skid marks left by the belly and tail give an indication of the size of the monster.

 

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Of course this would be about as good of a sign as you can get. This guy that the head sticking out of the water belongs to was sunning himself on a warm day this past February. He felt threatened by my presence so he lit out for the water. I tried barking and emulating a small dog in an attempt to get him closer for a better picture but it was to no avail.

 

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After a few minutes I was surprised to see a second and then a third hit the water and surface close to each other. As with the first one no matter how hard I tried I couldn't entice them to come for a closer look. We have a season for alligators and maybe they assumed that I was a potential threat. They would have been correct in that assumption.

 

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There was a fourth and larger one still waiting to make his grand entrance. I don't know how big that one was but it made quite a ruckus when it entered the water. All three of the others went under at that moment and I never saw any of the four of them surface again. They went back into the grass where they felt more secure.

 

In February of 2007 I was able to stalk to within six yards of this guy due to high grass. He was sunning on a thick mat of floating grass but his weight was causing him to be partially submerged. I would not attempt to get this close to a large one. This one will go six feet long.

 

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It wasn't but a minute before I had worm out my welcome and decided he needed to be alone. Just like that he was gone.

 

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It seems everyone has something that imposes at least a little bit of risk and compared to the risks that a couple of my fellow snipe hunting buddies have to take my walks seem somewhat risk free. I guess we feel less threatened by what we are most accustomed to seeing and familiar with. Chagaman is a regular on the snipe forum from Bangladesh. He has venomous snakes like I do and while he doesn't have the big reptiles they do have tigers over there. Snipe Shooter is another snipe hunting buddy in the Philippines. He posted the picture below that he took about two weeks ago while he was snipe hunting. The guys working the rice field he was hunting beat it to death with sticks. He thought he knew what it was but he wasn't 100% certain. His thinking that it was a cobra was exactly right. So there you go, we all have a little danger to spice up an otherwise bland walk through mud and water.

 

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Edited by Les Becassines

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Fascinating thread :clapper:

 

Well written, super accompanying photos and an obvious passion for the subject.

 

Keep it coming, I for one am certainly enthralled and I wish I could find something of equal quality amongst all the shooting magazines I buy every month.

 

Also, great website.

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