Going Snipe Hunting

Going Snipe Hunting

 

By Elton Camp

 

As a mad man who casteth firebrands, arrows, and death, So is the man that deceiveth his neighbour, and saith, Am not I in sport?  Proverbs 26: 18, 19.

 

 

            In the Old South, practical jokes weren’t common, but the perpetrators took inordinate delight in them.  Among younger boys, only one was widespread.  No matter how many times the hoax was pulled, some gullible boy hadn’t learned about it. 

 

            “Let’s go snipe huntin,’” Howard invited a boy whose family had recently moved from town into the county. 

 

      “Whut’s a snipe?” Rufus inquired. 

 

            “Hit’s a bird thet makes mighty good eatin.’  Easy t’ ketch too.  They’s a bunch o’ us goin’ tonight.  Jest bring ’long a tow sack.” 

 

            That night, Rufus joined a group of six boys armed with burlap bags.  They made their way into the woods to the end of a long ditch that carried away water during heavy rains.  It was dry and rocky. 

 

            “Y’u git right heer whar th’ ditch ez deepest, Rufus,” Howard said.  “Th’ rest o’ us’ll go t’ th’ othe’ end ’n’ run th’ snipes down th’ ditch ’n y’u kin ketch ’em in yore sack.  It’ll take us a bit to find ’em, so be shore to stay right heer.  If y’u leave even fer a minute, y’u might lose ’em.” 

 

            The gullible teenager, eager to please his new friends, did as instructed.  He heard them crashing through the woods calling out to scare the snipes in his direction.  All became quiet.  Rufus assumed that they were so far away that he couldn’t hear them.  No doubt they’d get a large catch of snipes.  He’d been assured that they were more tasty than chicken. 

 

            Time passed.  The night sounds began to take on an eerie quality.  The dim moonlight made familiar shapes seem ominous.  Bushes seemed to move.  An owl screeched in the distance. Only gradually did Rufus realize that his associates had gone away, leaving him “holding the bag.”  Shamefaced, he hurried home, making certain not to let his parents or siblings know how easily he’d been fooled. 

 

      “How’d y’u enjoy snipe huntin’?” one of the conspirators asked in a mocking tone when he encountered Rufus the next day.  “Ketch very many?”

 

            “Aw, I knowed whut y’all wuz up t’ th’ whole time.” I got home by th’ time y’all did. Y’u didn’t fool me a bit.”  Rufus never went snipe hunting again–not as the victim anyway.  That “joke” worked only once. 

 

(A note:  Practical jokes can have tragic consequences.  Boys have occasionally been severely injured or become lost in the woods from this one.  I write about this as a matter of historical interest and as a caution.  Such “tricks” may sound funny, but are always a bad idea.  How would you feel if a boy fell and was crippled for life, or was bitten by a rattlesnake and died as a result of this “joke?”  So, if invited to “go snipe hunting,” or asked to participate in such a vicious hoax, don’t do it.)


Comments:
 
Gorudu   Gorudu wrote
on 5/27/2010 10:19:34 PM
Good story, and very good job with the language of the boys. It definitely got the culture across.

Elton4562   Elton4562 wrote
on 5/27/2010 6:16:28 PM
Hello Henrietta, Thanks for reading and commenting. Interesting to learn that snipe hunting was found outside the South. I'd wondered about that. I'm thinking about another post about an even more terrible "practical joke," locally called "Going to see Meg." It was pulled on a boy at a college I attended. It resulted in his permanent disability and a lawsuit that succeeded against the "pranksters." Problem is that it could be considered winking at immorality and I don't want to offend anybody or to give a false impression of my own views. I may chance it anyway. If it causes any adverse comment, I can always delete it. By the way, I fixed the "tenure" typo. I want to issue totally correct material, but it eludes me. Elton

Henrietta   Henrietta wrote
on 5/27/2010 12:15:43 PM
Good story. Snipe hunting was common where I grew up also - Northern Nevada. It's another of those 'rites of passage' that can be dangerous.

Elton4562
Short Story
Comedy
writing Elton4562

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Synopsis
This is listed as "humor," but it can be dangerous and vicious. Be warned.
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