Shooting Snipe

Wilson’s Snipe

Over coffee at Beans cafe, I just read a feature in the Houston Chronicle on Shooting Snipe. The writer extols the joys of walking through wetlands, seeing the snipe* flushed out, their subsequent glorious twisting flight and then the difficulty of shooting them, even when cheating using a shotgun.

As a town-dweller, this whole concept is anathema to me. I can see the joy of walking in that land open to the skies and seeing the thrill of the snipe flushed from its hiding place, the glory of that speedy, turning, twisting unpredictable flight. But why then destroy that magnificent beauty of creation?

And yet I can see why country dwellers might see things differently, coming from times when the need to survive was paramount, and the snipe might provide a valuable source of food. I guess there are still such country dwellers who maybe still need the licence to kill these wonders of creation, although surely there are easier prey than this. And is it a good idea to gradually seed all the land with what is probably lead shot?

One could certainly argue that maybe we would not miss a few of the said 2 million of them, purely numerically. But what does the willingness to destroy these beings say about our internal psyche and our connection with the natural world?

Then there is the third category, the hunters, so-called sportsmen, probably themselves city dwellers. Again I can see the joy of achieving such a connection with the natural world that you can intercept the flight of this twisting turning bird and capture it in an instant. Of course this can be done with a camera, and what joy the resulting pictures would bring.

The gunshot brings destruction of life rather than creation of image. Yes, the satisfaction will be similar – the achievement, the transient pleasure of eating the result. But was there any need, other than that to complete man’s illusory dominance over nature. And what about the wounded birds that suffer for hours…

It would be more sporting to use a sniper rifle rather than gunshot, less polluting but no less inhumane, other than in the lower ‘hit rate’.

We are in truth one with nature and when we have fully realised that we take only what we need, not what is in the grasping greed of our distorted imaginations.

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed”

Mahatma Gandhi

* The bird referred to in this article is Wilson’s snipe, described as ‘fairly common’ in America by Wikipedia.

Picture courtesy of Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren and Wikimedia Commons

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