Common snipe

- Categories : Hunting

There is one and only King of marshlands: the common snipe, the flash wildfowl. As a really coveted and challenging prey, it represents for many hunters the glorification of their skills. Indeed shooting it, which is often extremely difficult and entails getting close to the maximum effective firing range of your shotsgun, requires excellent technical preparation. Swamplands, water meadows, paddy fields are the preferred habitats of this scolopacidae wildfowl, a noble migratory bird distributed in Southern Europe and Northern Africa. In Italy it can be found mainly during the period February-April and August-November from the north to the south of our peninsula in wetlands. Besides the aforesaid places, such prey is used to scampering among stubbles of wheat and corn, tomato fields and floodplains neighboring streams or lakes. As a consequence you definitely had better avoid seeking it on dry grounds, you are going to chase a rainbow in this way … which is an illusion (conversely you would bump into the wildfowl too!).

Importantly common snipe hunting is subject to restrictions which are still in force: both still hunting and firing it with a clean shot are forbidden. Tracking hunting with or without your pointing dog is therefore the possible solution, it’s certainly exciting even if really difficult to practice because of the harshness of the territory. The knowledge of the hunting environment in which you are and the habits of the wildfowl are therefore fundamental; equally the will to walk through mud and water must steadily be burning in your veins. Along with this an outstanding aim can’t be missing, needless to say!

The common snipe is like a flash in the sky, always ready to flee away. You may think “I am able to recover it”. You need to know it’s not that easy. This wildfowl is always performing a zig-zag trajectory in the air immediatly after it flees away and sews up such maneuver with its typical “kiss”. Not the half of it: it can fly upwind. Hence, turn your back to the wind in order to have the opportunity to find it in front of you and to shot much more easily. Should I shot or not? Hang on! Wait until the zig-zag pattern is concluded to avoid missing the hit, in that very moment when the flight path becomes more linear, fire! Have you realized it’s an extremely tough kind of hunting?

That’s why a fine, wieldy and light weight shotgun is essenial. According to the table below, a self-loading shotgun must be provided with a large constriction size on the first barrel and an increased firing range on the second one. On the other hand, over and under as well as side-by-side shotguns are suitable to allow for a doubled constriction size value, along with the chance to adjust the shotshell load to suit your shooting, which normally occurs at a medium/long range.

Hunting techniqueGaugeBarrel lengthSelf-loading shotgunOver and under /
Side-by-side shotgun
Shotshell G.Lead shots Nr.
Tracking hunting 12 66 / 71 *** / ** *** / * 32 / 34 10 / 9 / 8
Tracking hunting 20 66 / 71 *** / ** *** / * 28 10 / 9
Tracking hunting 28 71 *** / ** *** / * 21 / 24 10 / 9
Tracking hunting .410 71 *** / ** *** / * 19 10 / 9

When using self-loading shotguns with ** / *constriction sizes it is appropriate to use shotshells with Bior or felt wad on the first barrel in order to take advantage of those close-range shootings that the flash wildfowl shall treat us to on unusual and lucky days. Moreover remember that hunting such wildfowl, as it dwells in wetlands, where there is a ban on the use of lead-based ammunition, requires shotshells made of steel or alternative materials along with “Steel Shot“- branded choke tubes.

This hunting technique will "steal" a lot of your energy: feet in the mud, puddles of water, moats… physical and sometimes mental fatigue shall make themselves felt, however the awareness that you are looking for a wildfowl, which is truly difficult to capture must first and foremost be a galvanisation and an incentive. Don't let the failure get you down. The King of marshlands was given such name not coincidentally! The fact is that, once your prey shall be dethreoned and brought to the table, you will be the new King, ready to taste its refined and delicious meat that will reward all the efforts you endured previously.

You have found our advice useful and are sure that you will put what you have learned into practice on your next hunting trip? Browse beyond this article! Learn how to properly use a choke and all the guides provided by Gemini , drawn up with the help of specialists, for hunting and shooting enthusiasts like you.

Our thanks go to Professor Simone Bertini and Diego Apostoli for their availability and the precious time they devoted to us for the drafting of these guides.