Snipe Hunt


The snipe hunt was a sort of hazing ritual for older boy scouts to conduct and younger boy scouts to take part in. The basic gist was that the scouts would go out at night in order to hunt a mythical creature called the “rocky mountain snipe” or “west coast snipe”, or any other similar name depending on who told the story and where it was told. Said creature was supposed to be a very fast flightless bird, with feathers along its backbone that would glow in the dark. To simulate this effect, the older scouts would break a glow stick, tie it to a black string and have it pulled by a scout wearing entirely black, who would pull the stick as fast as they could through the forest. The older scouts would react to the “snipe”, while the younger scouts would attempt to chase after and catch it.
One night, a kid caught the snipe and was “bit” by it. They applied a crushed up hostess fruit pie to simulate an allergic reaction- with the raspberry filling resembling blood.


The informant is a Scout Master for a Boy Scout Troop. Their account of the snipe hunt comes from when they were still a lower rank Boy Scout, with them first hunting the snipe as a younger scout before learning about and assisting in the hunt as an older scout.


The boy scouts as a whole is an organization heavily rooted in the wilderness and nature, and I believe that the snipe hunt is heavily connected to that. It feels like a way to encourage that association among younger scouts. While it is used as a practical joke by many people outside of the boy scouts, especially people who attend summer camp, it nonetheless feels like an encouragement to be curious about the natural world through a legendary creature. It also serves to establish the hierarchy of the boy scout troop, with the higher ranking, older scouts being the ones who lead the hunt and call out the snipe, and the younger, low ranked scouts being the ones who chase down the snipe and fail to catch it. When a scout finally learns the truth about the snipe hunt and gets to join in on the activity, they enter somewhat of a right of passage into the higher ranks of the troop as well.