At cursory glance, which is all most people would take if they bothered to look at all, the reach of winter-browned coastal prairie appeared a mostly monotonous sweep of emptiness.
Maybe they'd notice the thin layer of water glimmering in the ankle-high carpet of grasses or the yards of mud rimming a slash of inches-deep open water pooled in natural depression in the otherwise seemingly featureless flatland. But probably not.
It's certain not one in a thousand or maybe 100,000 gazing at the "pasture" on a chilly, windy February morning would see the seemingly vacant, lifeless landscape as an animated freshwater wetland rich in wild potential.
But Martin Bethke and I did.
"Looks perfect for snipe," Bethke said as we shrugged into hunting vests and unsheathed shotguns held in the rack on the front of the ATV that had transported us into the middle of a sprawling prairie/marsh wetland complex in Matagorda County.
It was, and much more. The morning of snipe hunting proved, as it always does, the multi-faceted richness of experience and insights enjoyed by the handful of wingshooters who pursue what is one of the most cryptic, challenging, delicious and almost wholly ignored migratory game birds.
Outdoors report: Feb. 11
Patrick Beverly (2) tries to defend against Draymond Green (23) during the second half of the game between the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, February 9, 2016. The Warriors won 123-110.
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Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) is fouled by Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) as he drives to the basket during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016. The Blazers won the game 116-103. (AP Photo/Steve Dykes)
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Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley (2) has some words with Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016. The Blazers won 116-103. (AP Photo/Steve Dykes)
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FRISCO, TX - FEBRUARY 10: Alex Morgan #13 of USA scores a goal in the first minute of play against Wendy Acosta #20 of Costa Rica during the 2016 CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying at Toyota Stadium on February 10, 2016 in Frisco, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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That snipe hunting occurs on shallow freshwater wetlands - some of the most vibrant, varied, rich wildlife habitat in the world - is part of that. But the bird itself is simply fascinating.
Wilson's, to be precise
Snipe - officially, Wilson's snipe - are one of the most abundant of the scores of species of shorebirds found in North America. Most recent population estimates indicate the continental population of Wilson's snipe is around 2 million, a number that has held steady for at least the past 40 years. Snipe and woodcock, their forest-dwelling cousins, are the only two shorebirds designated as game birds.