July 13, 2011
Back in the 19th and early 20th centuries, commercial hunter employed large bore muzzle and breech-loading shotguns to harvest large numbers of waterfowl at one go. The guns were mounted in low skiffs or "punts" (special boats with minimal freeboard) and often were so large and heavy that aiming could only be accomplished by maneuvering the boat into the desired position.
The commercial punt gun shown was offered by the prestigious English gunmaking firm of Holland & Holland in the 1880s and '90s, and was available in bores up to 2 inches. It was designed to handle special paper or brass shotshells. Effects on local waterfowl populations (it was not unusual to kill 50 or more birds with one shot) by hunters using punt guns was devastating, and eventually the practice was outlawed in the United States, much to the relief, no doubt, of indigenous edible winged critters.