Guide to Overlooked February Hunting
Day 1: February Snipe Hunting and Recipe for Snipes Country Style
Editor’s Note: No, hunting season isn’t over in many states, and real hunting may have just begun. Although deer is the glamour species of the fall and the winter, there are many-more game animals and birds that may deserve your attention this month. More states are having small-game seasons during the month of February, because small-game animals have taken a backseat to deer, turkey and waterfowl. However, before this country saw the rebuilding of deer herds, turkey flocks and elk herds, small-game hunting was the most popular of all hunting sports, with rabbits and squirrels not only drawing the most attention, but taking-up the most space on the dinner plate. So, let’s take a look at the overlooked hunting in February.
One February, a fellow outdoor writer and friend, Nick Sisley, visited my family. Nick’s an excellent wingshot and teaches that skill in his home state of Pennsylvania. To put Nick’s shooting skills to the test and have a good time, we arranged a snipe hunt. Most of the Capella gallinago we were to shoot were Yankee birds which, like Nick, had fled from the ice and the snow of the North to the warmer weather of the South. The snipe is thought by many to be an ugly bird with a long, hummingbird-like beak, stork-like legs and drab brown and black feathers. But what the bird lacks in glamour, it makes up for in flying ability and lead-dodging sense.
When deciding on a place to hunt snipe, choose an area with a number of bogs. Low, wet, soybean fields make ideal feeding grounds for the long-nosed snipe. He can bury his beak deep in the mud and find worms and grubs to eat there. We used horses to go across the rain-soaked fields to reach our stands. As the first two feathered dive-bombers streaked across the late evening sky, I saw Nick spring from cover and fire. The snipe kept going. I thought to myself, “He ought to know better than to try to take snipes that high.” However, as the afternoon wore on, I watched Nick fill his limit of eight with not another miss. Some of the birds Nick took were even higher and faster than the ones he missed. While Nick was picking-up his snipe, and I was still trying to take my third bird, I realized this Yankee knew late-weather hunting. You too can enjoy hunting snipes – even in February’s sometimes-ugly weather. Low areas like fields and drainage ditches will be your best bets.
Snipes Country Style
6 bacon strips
1-1/2-cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons chopped parsley
Flour birds lightly after cleaning and packing. Cook bacon in large skillet. Remove, and keep warm. Sauté snipes in the bacon fat, browning well on all sides. Reduce heat, and continue cooking until snipes are tender. This will take about 10 minutes or so. Season to taste. Remove snipes to hot platter, and garnish with bacon. Spoon-out all but 3 tablespoons of fat. Add 4 tablespoons flour, and blend well. Cook 3 minutes. Gradually stir-in cream and cook, stirring, until smooth and thickened. Season well with salt and pepper, add chopped parsley.