Everyone likes to shoot big guns that goes boom. We’re talking a gun that you can shoulder and fire not a howitzer. Back in the days of “commercial harvesting” you can hear large guns roaring in the marshes as waterfowl drop like rain. The use of punt guns was very effective. Back in the 1800 the use of punt guns to shoot down birds for market meat at cash value, which eventually was banned as waterfowl populations were in heavy decline.
Punt guns were not the average sporting shotgun. First use were over sized black powder shotguns in which well over a pound of shot could be fired at once. These could be made into gigantic flock slayers of different gauges. Yes, days of lead belching mammoth are gone. Here is a video shared by Ryan Stille highlighting a punt gun unleashing on some clay pigeons. These single shot long gun form in huge sizes such as 4 gauge and even at a big 2 gauge size.
These punt guns were normally mounted on small boats. Hunters would paddled towards unsuspecting flock of waterfowl in the water. The boat was aimed by paddle so the punt gun was lined up and in range. With one huge kaboom, dozens or more ducks were put down.
Seems unsporting but for meat market it was the way to go. Using punt guns in groups can bring down many birds. By 1860, the practice of using punt guns was banned mostly at the state levels. Federal laws in 1918 finished market hunting for good.
Currently, waterfowl shotguns are required by federal law to be at most 10 gauge, while many hunters use 12 gauge magnum loads that exceed the standards of the old shells. Game conservation, including the ban of duck cannons like the punt gun, has brought waterfowl numbers up to an all time high.