The Funny Looking Punt Gun Nearly Wiped Out Duck Populations

Grace Higgins | June 25th, 2020

Use of what is known as the punt gun, a comically large looking gun, nearly wiped out the duck and waterfowl populations of America in a short amount of time. This massive looking gun was destructive on another level, especially if you were a duck hunter. If we look back through the pages of history we can quickly see people were always trying to make bigger and better weapons, intent on blowing more people up. Of course, the end goal has always been the same: let the creator yield more power. Some attempts have been successful, but most cases just ended up looking strange, funny, and ineffective weapons.

When it comes to the punt gun the results entered a whole new level. Sure the gun looked ridiculous but the punt gun held so much power that it had to be outlawed. In the end, the punt gun was deemed to be too good for its job, and that it had to be outlawed to save the duck populations. Developed in the early 1800s when duck hunting was a common practice, demand for duck meat was rising and so were the feathers being used in hats. As humans are ever greedy by nature, hunters looked for a way to kill many ducks at the same time and with ease.

Enter the punt gun, custom-built at over eight feet long and two inches in diameter, it fired a whole pound of ammunition in one go. This meant the gun could kill up to 50 waterfowl in one shot, then hunters just had to go collect the bodies floating in the water. When you saw it in action, it looked like it should only exist in a looney tunes cartoon, the problem was the gun was too big and powerful to be used by a hunter alone. This is why they developed special boats to carry the gun, known as punts, hence the rifle was referred to as the punt gun.

The boats were slender and thin, just enough for one hunter and the rifle the boat would fly backward several yards when the punt gun was fired. Soon hunters were using strategies together with groups of eight to 10 boats, they could decimate a whole population of 500 ducks in a matter of minutes. This led to the U.S Government stepping in and passing legislation that outlawed market hunting and transporting game across state lines, along with other laws that effectively made using the punt gun a crime.

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