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Punt Guns

Written by: George Chittenden : 06 Dec 2019

This photo shows one of the most unusual inventions of the 19th century, an extremely large shotgun which was designed for mass hunting waterfowl, known as a punt gun. Obviously the weapon was too large to hand-wield and instead was mounted on a long, narrow flat-bottomed boat called a punt. The gun was capable of killing up to fifty birds in single shot, discharging over a pound of shot at a time. Before firing the hunter would manoeuvre the entire boat into position in order to aim the gun.

A massive shotgun known as a punt gun

A massive shotgun known as a punt gun

The gigantic shotgun was invented in North America during a time when demand for food was high due to the increase in population. However the weapon quickly depleted stocks of wild waterfowl, as hunters would often work in groups of 8-10 boats. After firing the hunters would spending the rest of the day picking up the carcasses. Most US states had banned the practice by the 1860s, and then in 1900 the Lacey Act banned the transport of wild game across state lines, which thankfully relegated this type of mass killing to the history books.

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