A North-American prank and rite of passage wherein older adolescents take younger boys into the wilderness for the supposed purpose of “snipe hunting.” Snipes are an imaginary game bird purported to resemble quails or pheasants or what have you (the fictional snipe is not to be confused with the extant North American shorebird of that same name). Snipe hunts take place on moonless nights; the victims are provided burlap bags with which to catch the birds, while the conspirators spot them with flashlights. The conspirators make birdcalls, through rocks in the bushes, and urgently cry out “snipe” to make the victims believe that there are actually birds in the area. The victims don’t want to be the only one who can’t see the imaginary birds, so they claim to have seen them also. Pretty soon the victims have convinced each other they are surrounded by snipes and proceed to run about foolishly in search of the non-existent birds. “Dude right there didn’t you see it?” The conspirators will often agree that they have just seen a snipe in that cactus patch or lake or thorny bush and order then the victims to dive in and catch it with his respective sack. The victims are then often abandoned by their guides, thus completing the joke. The cycle repeats when this year’s dupes become privy to the joke and then take their younger brothers out the following year, in search of the ever-illusive snipe.
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