• A snipe hunt is one of a class of practical jokes that involve experienced people making fun of newcomers by giving them an impossible or imaginary task. Inexperienced campers or hunters are told about a bird or animal called the snipe, as well as a (usually ridiculous) method of catching it - such as running around the woods carrying a bag, or making strange noises. Since the supposed snipe doesn't exist, the hunt never succeeds, no matter how foolishly the newcomer acts. To extend the joke, there actually is a species of bird called a snipe. The success of the joke depends in part on the victim's ignorance of this, as the snipe is found primarily in wetlands and the joke is invariably played in wooded areas. Another variation of this type of practical joke, called a fool's errand in the UK, involves sending newcomers on a work site to fetch nonexistent tools, such as a left-handed screwdriver, a can of striped paint or a tube of elbow grease. In the Boy Scouts of America it is common for first-time attendees at a camporee (a large weekend event) to be sent after a "left-handed smoke-shifter," supposedly a branch with a fan on the end used to deflect smoke from a campfire. In the Air Force a variant involves new airmen being sent to the commissary to purchase a bottle of prop wash. A traditional variation of this in UK schools involves a teacher sending a pupil—usually picked for being annoying as much as for gullibility—to another teacher for "a long stand". When the pupil arrives and delivers the request, they are asked to wait—usually in full view of the class: this is their "long stand". In Latvia a similar hunt took place during Jani. Children traditionally went into the woods on Jani, searching for the fern blossom (like a "snipe hunt" in North America, since the fern blossom does not exist) which supposedly bloomed only at night on Jani. Searching for, and theoretically finding, the fern blossom brought good luck. (info on Jani is here
  • Actually, a snipe does exist. There is just no reason to hunt it. The snipe looks like a killdee or sandpiper.
  • It's something you should totally go on. Don't ask any questions, just get in the truck and go on your way. When they tell you to get out and walk in the middle of the field without a flashlight don't worry about it. When they leave remember it's because the engine and exhust scares the snipes.
  • Some snipe species have been hunted for food and sport since the invention of the shotgun. They can be extremely difficult targets, confounding even very skilled hunters with their erratic flight, their unexpected flushes, their excellent natural camouflage and the treacherous and difficult terrain they typically inhabit. The elusive nature of the snipe is well-known among hunters. In the days of market hunting, the most skilled hunters of all would often bring many Common Snipe to market earning the nickname "sniper" as a badge of respect for the difficulty in shooting this amazing little bird. The term has evolved into the modern usage sniper, referring to a skilled anti-personnel military sharpshooter. [1]
  • It is just about the most fun you can have, without breaking the law, that's for sure! I will never forget my first time. It is kinda an honor, actually, to be asked along. Just go, if you get asked, because you may only get one chance to go...
  • get a bunch of guys to go in to the woods and leave them there

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