One of Michigan’s Oldest Pranks: Going on a Snipe Hunt
Were you ever asked to go on a ‘snipe hunt’? And did you actually go? Fortunately, I never fell for that practical joke when I was a kid, even though many of my friends did. And they embarrassingly paid for it for weeks.
Growing up in Stockbridge all those years ago, what we did for fun was read comic books, play softball, ride our bikes, shovel sidewalks in winter time, watch cartoons, camp in the woods, make underground forts & tree houses, and play night time games like “Capture the Flag” and “One O’Clock and the Ghost Ain’t Here.” So with not much else for a pre-teen to do, it only stood to reason why someone would coax a kid to go on a wild goose chase, or “Snipe Hunt”.
The premise is to get some poor unsuspecting sap to go out into the woods with you to catch a snipe. You give the kid all the necessities he needs to catch one: like a flashlight, whistle, and a bag. Blowing the whistle will simulate a snipe’s mating call. The flashlight is to shine in the snipe’s eyes so he can’t see you. The bag is to hold open on the snipe trail so when it comes running toward you, it gets captured.
Of course, the whistle is just an ordinary whistle, the flashlight is basically useless, and no snipe ever comes running toward you as you hold the bag open on the ground.
One variation on a snipe hunt is a big stick to whack the snipe with once it’s in the bag; another is for the practical joker to come back to your campsite with an empty bag (telling the others there’s a snipe in it), then the bag is dropped and the “snipe” runs out and gets away.
Sometimes a kid would get left out in the woods alone, at night, for hours before someone came back…sometimes, no one would come back at all, and after so many hours, the kid would realize he’s been duped and walk all the way home.
So is there such a thing as a snipe? Yup…it’s a bird that resembles a large sparrow with a very long beak. Have I ever seen one? Nope. Did any of my friends ever see one? Nope. Not even in a zoo or aviary.
So just a heads-up…if anyone ever asks you to go on a snipe hunt, go along with the gag. But make sure you drive so you can leave them out in the woods, while you go home and go to bed.
Michigan Snipe Hunt
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