On this particular afternoon, Jake, Old Man Moser’s son, was driving his pickup, and myself and another driver riding along, returning from the town. Somehow in the conversation, the other driver mentioned snipe hunting to Jake. Jake picked up his cue.
“Yeah,” he said, “I’ve heard they have snipe around here. In fact I think I heard some the other night.”
“What’s a snipe?” I said.
Now, here I was just acting. I had long ago heard about snipe hunting. Although perhaps some such thing as a snipe does exist, somewhere in the world, there are none around these parts. In fact, taking somebody on a snipe hunt is just a way to play a trick on them.
You get somebody who knows no better than to trust you, and you give him a sack and place him out in some desolate place, and then you go home, laughing to see how long he’ll stay out there in the middle of nowhere with a sack.
But in this conversation, just for fun, I pretened to know nothing and asked what a snipe was. Jake and the other driver exchanged a quick look.
“It’s a kind of bird,” Jake said, “They’re mighty good eating, and they’re easy to catch, too.” That was my cue.
“How do you catch them?” I asked. Strangely enough, I was told that these snipe were caught in a sack, out in the empty fields, at night. I played along like Mr. Dummy.
When we got back to our camp beyond the farmer’s buildings, Mrs. Mosier had cooked up another great dinner for all the hands, and we fell to. Afterward, as the light was failing, we sat around, smoking and talking. And somehow the snipe hunt came up again. Jake mentioned that I had never been on a snipe hunt, and all my very good friends chimed in that it was so fun, and they decided to take me snipe hunting that very night.
Jake got some burlap sacks from the farmer, and in a short time we were barrelling along a dark road past deserted fields. As expected, I was taken to a low-lying gully in the field and given some sacks. The others said they’d go up past the higher ground and they’d drive the snipe along the gully. All I had to do was bag the snipe as they came running along the ground.
Off went my good friends.
Under the half-moon, the dark field was vaguely visible into the distance, and my friends soon vanished, and from a distance, began making various kinds of sounds. But as soon as they were out of sight, I’d crept along the gulley until I came to the fence, crawled under the fence, and then walked along the drainage ditch until the field was left behind.
Trotting up the empty road in the fresh moonlight, in a quarter hour I was back at the camp, and lay in my bunk, reading for about an hour. Mr. Moser asked me where Jake and the boys were, and I told him they’d gone snipe hunting.
Jake and the boys showed up soon after, glowering. Somehow they’d not enjoyed the snipe hunt all that much, and they had no snipe to show for the night’s outing.