Child goes “snipe hunting” with a grocery bag.
Now, as an adult, I can certainly appreciate a prank that was played on me many years ago by my hardworking father and uncle.
My dad labored every day in the heating and air-conditioning business, and my Uncle Denny was a plumber. Thus, I understand their desire to simply relax in a backyard lawn chair at the end of the day.
And so it went one hot summer evening in the tiny town of Stoutsville, Ohio. My dad had just plopped his exhausted body down in a lawn chair when Uncle Denny happened to stop by – and do the same. The last thing these men wanted to do was entertain me, a rambunctious 9-year-old boy with lots of energy to burn.
So Uncle Denny came up with a perfectly harmless way to get me out of their hair. And, of course, my dad played along with the ploy.
“Hey, John, have you ever been snipe hunting?” Uncle Denny asked.
With big doe eyes, I cautiously asked, “Snipe hunting?”
“Yeah,” Uncle Denny said. “It’s just about sunset, so they should be coming out pretty soon.”
“What’s a snipe?” I asked.
“It’s a bird,” Uncle Denny replied, “and they’re really hard to catch.”
The thought of the challenge was exciting to my young self, and I started jumping up and down, exclaiming, “I want to go snipe hunting!”
In the other lawn chair, Dad said, “I’ll tell you what, John. Run into the house and ask your mother to give you a brown paper grocery bag.”
“Why?” I retorted.
“You’re going to use the bag to capture a snipe,” Dad said.
I’m pretty sure my jaw dropped to the ground, but a moment later I recovered and bolted into the house, ignoring the laughter behind me.
Seconds later, I returned with the bag, pleading, “Now what do I do?”
“Take that bag and go find a place to hide in the backyard – anywhere a snipe can’t see you,” Uncle Denny said. “Then lure the snipe into your hiding spot by using their call.”
“What does a snipe sound like, Uncle Denny?” I asked.
In a high-pitched tone, Uncle Denny called out, “Snipe! Snipe! Snipe!” Then his voice returned to normal as he continued. “When the snipe comes up to you, throw the grocery bag over him.”
That was all I needed to hear. I spent the next few hours of that summer evening – up until it was time for bed – in the backyard, repeating the snipe call, just like Uncle Denny had showed me.
Meanwhile, Dad and Uncle Denny spent the rest of that summer evening – up until it was time for me to go to bed – unbothered by a 9-year-old boy.
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
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