03 September 2013

Snipe Hunting at Cane Creek Tennessee in 1876

Ledger Lines

Last night a squad of dry goods men visited Nonconnah bottom in order to initiate four of their number into the mysteries of snipe hunting. The would-be hunters had shot snipe in "holg Hengland," but never did, "you know," in this "blarsted" country. As one of them said to another, "It was a bloody good joke, my lad, but some fellahs don't like it, you know."

Snipe Hunting.

Four New Disciples to this Rare and Ancient Sport.

The old game of snipe hunting was perpetrated last night by four dry goods clerks on four of their associates most successfully. The victims are new comers from the North, only one of them having been here any length of time. They are young men of fine intelligence and have seen much of the world, but it was discovered that there was a deficiency in their education; that they had never been initiated into the mysteries of hunting snipe with a bag. Their friends kindly undertook to instruct them a day or two ago, and succeeded so well that the novices know as much about it now as their teachers.

The plan was originally to take the youths across the river and leave them out over night, but this was abandoned on account of the delicate health of one of them. Everything being ready, the party of eight sallied forth last night in the direction of Elmwood cemetery. Each man carried a large course sack bought at the feed store, or a bundle of fat fagots secured at a wood-yard to make torches. It was explained to the verdant youths that Southern snipe roost in the bayous or ravines, and are, when disturbed, easily attracted by a light. The modus operandi is simply to drive them toward a light and catch them in a wide-mouthed sack as they fly blindly at a flaming torch. When the bag is full tie it up and you have your snipes. It works admirably the first time; we have seen it tried often on greenhorns by school-boys as well as on grown men.

Our party marched with great enthusiasm in a crooked direction about five miles and reached a point near Cane creek, where there is a small bayou. As they approached the snipe ground every voice was lowered to a whisper. They walked as softly as cats. It was a moment of supreme excitement. Every man could feel his heart beat. They crept down into the almost dry bed of the bayou, built two little traps of sticks to hold up the bags, and lighted the torches. A man was placed at each trap and two others held bags open with their hands. These four, of course, were the pupils. The others were to go up half a mile by a roundabout way and drive the snipe down the bayou to the torches and into the bags.

The beaters-in started; but strange to say, when they got off a hundred yards or two they concluded to come back to town. It was only a short distance to the Hernando road. That being reached they returned quicker than they went. This was about the time the theater closed. It was a nipping cold night, but the young men with the bags, traps and torches, like faithful pickets on duty, stood their ground nobly, expecting every moment that the snipe would dash into their faces, like birds seeking refuge on a ship at sea during a storm. But nary a snipe. They became anxious about their friends, thinking something had happened, and went to look for them, making inquiry at a house. Still hopeful and confiding in human nature and snipe, they went back and resumed their posts. But there is a limit to human endurance. Some time between twelve and four o'clock they started back to the city, and on reaching their quarters realized they had been made the victims of a huge practical joke. They all took it rather good naturedly, or tried to, but it will not be the best to speak of snipe in their presence for a few days yet. Next!
November 25, 1876. Memphis Public ledger 23(74): 3.

Ledger Lines

The young dry goods clerks who went "snipe hunting" in Cane creek bottom last Friday night are not in the best of humor over the publication of their adventures which appeared in the Ledger of Saturday.

November 27, 1876. Memphis Public Ledger 23(75): 3.