A snipe is a bird that hangs around bogs and marshes and is valued as “good eating” game. Several years ago when I was about twelve years old old, hunting Snipe was a sport, and usually us trusting younguns looked forward to being invited to go Snipe hunting with the older boys and men. I remember vividly when I was invited to go Snipe hunting with my older brothers and cousins. I believe twelve year old children are smarter today than I was at that age when I excitedly accepted the invitation to go Snipe hunting for the very first time.
I should have suspected somthing when I was so graciously encouraged to accompany my older brothers and cousins on a night Snipe hunt when I saw there were no guns, only a croker sack and some peach tree switches. Night Snipe hunting had been carefully explainted to me before we took off for the creek swamp. Since I was new at it, I was told I would sit quietly in the swampy dark holding the crocker sack open so the Snipes could be whipped in with the peach tree switches.
The experienced Snipe hunters took the switches and departed to find the Snipe and whip them back to my waiting sack. Being twelve years old and somewhat afraid of the dark, I wanted someone to stay with me and the croker sack, but I was told–and reluctantly believed–that Snipes wouldn’t come to the crocker sack if more than one person was there. Well, with heart pounding, I settled down behind the palmetto clump as everyone else left me holding the sack open. I suppose I must have waited for behind that palmetto waiting to hear whipping noises and see some Snipes. It took awhile, but I finally figured out that I had been left literally “holding the bag.”
I ran all the way back home to find my brothers and cousins sitting at home, real pleased with themselves that they had tricked a trusting “dummy.” Of course everyone except me had a big laugh at my ignorance and vulnerability. I suppose my biggest disappointment in the whole matter was that Mama knew I was being set up and didn’t come to my aid. I felt at the time that she should have protected me from my ignorance, but I later realized that she was allowing me to face reality in the process of growing up as a north Florida country boy.
Snipe hunting at night has long since fell by the wayside, but I don’t imagine there are too many country boys, as I was way back then.