Woodcock and snipe hunting is for hunters who like to walk many kilometres.
Some woodcock and snipe are bagged during general hunts, but if you want to hunt the specific species, you need to be prepared to walk.

 

Snipe can be found on wet meadows and also on harvested fields for a certain period. Woodcock and snipe are migratory birds that arrive in the autumn. During this time you might see large numbers one day, and then find that they have moved on the next.

The woodcock is the only wading bird that can be found in the forest, where it primarily eats earthworms.


Challenges of hunting for wading birds

When hunting woodcock or snipe you end up walking many kilometres in a day, so it is important to have light fitting and moisture-wicking clothing.

The hunt takes place in autumn, in the weather conditions that accompany this season.

Thin membrane clothing is therefore preferable, as it wicks away sweat while also keeping out wind and rain.

Hunting for wading birds

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Hunting stories from a hunter

Small birds with long beaks – the shotgun hunter’s big game!

All other game birds are larger than the woodcock and snipe. There is not much meat on these long-beaked wading birds. So if it is meat you are after, you should probably choose other species to hunt. However, as far as the experience goes, they are hard to beat, and if you are fortunate enough to bag one of these species, you get a delicious morsel to enjoy as an added bonus.

There are many traditions associated with woodcock hunting.
One of them is that the woodcock is given a place of honour at the top of the bag parade. Woodcocks are also girded in mystery and myths. For example, can a woodcock heal its own leg wounds using mud and plants from the forest floor? Can it fly with its young between its legs? Can it shed its feathers to fool the enemy? These are just some of the myths.

But one thing is certain, it can dodge a shot like a disappearing act. The woodcock, with its 360-degree vision, does everything possible to use nature as its shield. With a single beat of its wings it takes cover behind a pine bush, so the hunter cannot make his shot.

Hunting for wading birds

Snipe hunting is a beautiful form of hunting. Snipes have no trees or bushes to use as shields, but they have altitude. They take to the skies as fast as lightning, after zig-zagging across the field like a butterfly.

It is pleasant to walk on meadows among grazing cows, between the tufts and drain channels. You walk quietly, because snipes have good vision, and some people believe they can sense danger approaching through the ground.

You walk carefully, scouting ahead to spot a quick ascent, and if accompanied by a roguish kissing sound, you can be sure a snipe has taken flight. With rapid wing beats it evades the pursuing swarm of pellets, which lose power in the blue expanse.

Many a skilled hunter has been left scratching their head after being defeated by such a humble bird.

As you take each step across the meadow you can hear the ever increasing clinking of empty shells in your pocket, as a reminder of how difficult this hunt is.

A hunt for wading birds is a hunt in a wild landscape, where the hunter must work hard for a reward.


People who like snipe or woodcock hunting are first and foremost hunters who enjoy being in the habitat these birds prefer. If you can also bag an occasional bird, then your happiness is complete.

Not all dogs like retrieving them, but it is also a bird which it is difficult to get experience with! Whether you are using spaniels or pointers for these forms of hunting, each has its own charm, but the most important thing is that the dogs are used. No hunt day can be better spent than with your dog, and wading bird hunting is not for many hunters at once. It is hunter and dog – perhaps two or three good friends together – but there is no whooping and hollering, only the sound of the dog’s busy nose – and if you are lucky – a gentle beating of wings behind a tuft or tree.

 

Troels Pedersen

Troels Pedersen
40 year old hunter, musician and author from Denmark
Started hunting in 1999
Favourite quarry: Woodcock
Choice of weapon: Henry Atkin 12/70

Best hunting trip:
On 2 November 2016, as I walked with two good friends in undulating terrain among tall pine trees. My dog was searching energetically among the small mossy rises when two woodcocks suddenly took flight together. I still remember the breath catching in my chest when woodcock number two also collapsed in the air. It was as if they both hung there a moment after they were hit before they dropped majestically in a clearing. My dog retrieved them both.

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