Contest-winning youth essay: Going on a snipe hunt

8/18/2014 | 0

Essay-contest winner Marcel Such, Lyons, Colorado.

Essay-contest winner Marcel Such, Lyons, Colorado.

Young birder Marcel Such, of Lyons, Colorado (above), and retired refuge manager Stephen Bouffard, of Boise, Idaho, will soon be birding with new binoculars.

Leica Trinovid 42 binocular.

Leica Trinovid 42 binocular.

They’re the winners of the essay contest we announced with Leica Sport Optics in our June issue. Looking to celebrate young birders, we asked birders age 21 or younger to write an essay about a memorable birding experience with an adult mentor, and we asked adult birders to describe an experience mentoring one or more young birders. We announced the winners in “Your View” in our October 2014 issue.

Such, 18, wrote about a neighbor who took him on a real snipe hunt and then became his mentor. Bouffard, 64, described the impact of a “feel and tell” encounter with elementary students from the Idaho School for the Deaf and Blind.

Bouffard’s prize is a new Leica Trinovid 42 binocular. Such also wins a Leica Trinovid 42, and what a prize it is! It was the same Trinovid used throughout 2013 by Kenn Kaufman, Pete Dunne, Victor Emanuel, and other expert birders, including Neil Hayward, who used it to break the ABA Big Year record. It’s lucky Leica Trinovid 42 Binocular No. 2002069 — the Traveling Trinovid!

Read the winning adult essay by Stephen Bouffard.

Going on a snipe hunt
By Marcel Such, 18, Lyons, Colorado

The telephone rings in the gathering darkness. It is our neighbor Raymond Davis inquiring if my younger brother Joel and I would like to embark on a “snipe hunt” at dawn. My mother looks confused, but after some conversation, an actual plan is in place. We had only met Davis the previous week, but he quickly drew a connection with us centered on birds. With my silent, bird-obsessed brother, the bond was instantaneous, and with me, the lover of all things wolves, he quickly hooked me into the avian world with tales of the raven and the wolf in Yellowstone.

As the sun breaks the horizon, we find ourselves scouring local alfalfa fields in pursuit of Bobolink and stalking roadside wetlands in search of the elusive snipe. Over the course of the morning, we see a plethora of birds and witness our new mentor’s seemingly miraculous bird-identification skills. From a mere glance, Davis identifies a sparrow and immediately begins tutoring us in the basics of field ornithology. Before the morning is complete, we find our snipe, perched just feet away atop a fence post.

Eleven years have passed since that original snipe hunt, and through the years, Davis challenged us to improve our knowledge and skill until he felt they surpassed his own self-proclaimed “grade-B” expertise. He introduced us to many of the leading field ornithologists in the state, who in turn joined in on the mentoring process. From this man with his own diagnostic field marks — mismatched Converse All-Star shoes and wide brimmed hat plastered in High Island patches — I learned to appreciate the varied aspects of birds and birding, all of which started with a snipe hunt that was not a practical joke. – Marcel Such, 18, Lyons, Colorado

Read the winning adult essay by Stephen Bouffard.

On the Traveling Trinovid Blog, learn who birded with the Traveling Trinovid last year and what birds they saw, and follow Athena, a Leica 7×42 Ultravid HD, as it travels the globe in search of birds in 2014.

Marcel Such’s winning essay appeared in “Your View” in the October 2014 issue of BirdWatching. Subscribe.