FL Snipe Hunting: 1K Flushes/Day?!

January 24, 2012 | By | 3 Replies More

(Photo: thesnipehunter.com)

Florida’s an odd state for hunting. The turkeys are good, but the deer are small and it seems like much of the state is overrun with alligators and hogs. Upland hunting? There may be a few wild quail (we’re ignorant there, so anyone who knows chime in), definitely some put-and-take pheasants, but that’s it…right?

Nope. There’s also snipe hunting, which we’ve never done but which looks like a combo of upland hunting and waterfowling. Shotguns and dogs, what’s not to like.

Just in case the days of the old “snipe hunting” joke haven’t passed for you, snipe are real birds of woodcockian proportions. Beyond that, we’ll excerpt a recent excellent article from Jacksonville.com that gives us East Coasters yet another reason to want to take a plane to Florida in the winter months:

> Right now some of the best and sportiest wingshooting available to shotgunners can be found in many regions of [Florida] for this remarkable little long-beaked, migratory bird.

> The Florida season is long, running through Feb. 15 [plus 8 birds per person per day]. Further, much of the very best hunting for snipe is wide open to the public, and it’s not hard to do — although hitting them with a shotgun is about as tough as wingshooting gets.

> A close bird hunting buddy once commented that downing a crossing dove in a 30 mph tailwind was a piece of cake compared to hitting a soaring snipe with no breeze. I chuckled at that analogy, but, in truth, it’s spot on.


> Wildlife biologists say Florida has some of America’s most ideal habitat for snipe, with its vast prairie-type wetlands, lakeshores and river edges. And some outstanding snipe hunting is available on public ground throughout huge areas — from north Florida to Okeechobee and beyond toward the Everglades. On a good day, in prime public snipe country, it’s not unusual at this time of year to see and flush 1,000 or more birds in an afternoon. [*Choke* 1000?!]

> Florida wetlands are ideal for snipe, and because the state is a big cattle producer, grazing cows commonly stomp tall, lakeshore and riverside vegetation to further enhance snipe habitat. This produces moist, somewhat mucky low-grass areas along lake and river shores. This is perfect for snipe, as they use their long, 2-inch bills to probe soggy ground for food such as worms, grubs and insects.

> The flat lowlands of Central and South Florida are especially good areas for snipe. The upper St. Johns River, west of Melbourne and east of Orlando attracts huge numbers of wintering birds, and exceptional public snipe hunting abounds throughout that region.

> Lakes Washington, Winder, Poinsett, Harvey, Jessup, Puzzle, Monroe and many other broad places in the Upper St. Johns are stiff with snipe right now.

> Most waters on the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes east of Lakeland have good populations of snipe, especially lakes Kissimmee and Tohopekaliga. The Lake Trafford area, near Immokalee, has been a snipe hunting hot spot for many years; as are the shorelines of sprawling Lake Okeechobee.

> Closer to Jacksonville, big, broad lakes can have excellent snipe hunting along their shores, too. Rodman Reservoir, near Interlachen, can be great, as can lakes Lochloosa, Orange, Sampson, and other nearby waters, too.

> Additionally, there are hundreds of small lakes and boggy savannahs and prairies scattered around Florida that harbor great numbers of snipe, yet are rarely hunted. The best way to learn about them is to get detailed topographical maps of the region, locate lowland plains offering suitable snipe habitat, then spend time walking and hunting likely spots.


> While boats are not always needed for good snipe hunting, they’re a huge asset. Duck-style johnboats and canoes are great, but snipe hunting can be done out of bass boats, small runabouts and even kayaks. Airboats are the ideal craft for getting into marshy areas.

> Many gunners hunt for ducks at dawn, and then use their johnboats to work around lake and river shores at midday for snipe. It’s a good hunting combination that extends a day’s shotgunning, and it’s usually easy to do on big water.

> Some people hear hip boots or chest-high waters. But since Florida weather even in winter is usually warm, many veteran snipe shooters simply wear lightweight pants and old tennis shoes.

> Most often snipe spring suddenly into the air, then go off in a very fast, erratic, zigzag flight. Some shots are at birds flushing 30 to 40 yards out, but many times shots of 50 to 60 yards are needed.

> Often snipe flush and soar out into a large, circular pattern, coming back to the spot where they first took to flight. Gunners should always watch for circling birds.

Gator Country….

> It’s common for walking snipe hunters to sink a few inches into waterside mud, and sometimes go down to the knees in areas where the ground is soft and deep. At times it’s necessary to slosh through a watery bog, or wade a marsh slough with water above the waist. If you’re spooked by snakes and gators, snipe hunting may not be for you. But if you want snipe, getting into the slop is the only way to succeed.


From the same article, sounds like the latest salvo in the ongoing bid to make Florida the world’s largest private golf course:

> Often the key to good snipe ground and hunting is a broad shoreline grassy-wet area between the high-water mark and where the lake or river water actually begins. Today, this is public hunting ground. But…pending Florida legislative bills (S.B. 1362 and H.B. 1103) may shut down such public snipe hunting access. These bills would make the low-water mark the domain of private landowners.

> Waterfowlers, hunters, shotgunners and proponents of public access should fiercely object to this outrageous proposed Florida legislation, which has the potential to steal 500,000 acres of public-access property.


Category: FL, Snipe

Comments (3)

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  1. AT says:

    Florida had a decent amount of quail on preserves. There are some on public land where habitat exists.
    Tall Timbers Research Station is up near Tallahassee. They do a good amount of hunting and a lot of research.

  2. E Dudley says:

    I got into a day of snipe hunting on accident two years ago in Maine. The area is perfect habitat for snipe. I was there for another reason but saw hundreds of snipe all around. The shooting was fantastic, the taste was horrific. No boat needed, just tall boots. The dogs had a great time as well. I don’t think I’d do it again without getting a recipe that would make that bird edible.

  3. Chaudhry Ahmed says:

    You forgot to mention the wintering woodcock in Florida.

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