Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Chesapeake Bay Tradition

There was a time on the Chesapeake Bay when ducks were so plentiful, that men found employment as market hunters. Using boats and other floating contraptions, they would go out with punt guns - which I am not sure would be better described as rather like a small cannon or a huge shotgun. You can imagine the devastation something like that might have if fired into a flock like the one I posted a few days ago. It didn't take too many years before duck populations were do depleted, that type of "harvesting" was brought to an end.

The tradition of duck hunting from small boats continues, however, as shown in this series of photos taken the other day.  These hunters were far enough out in the Bay that I didn't even notice them until their guns started occasionally going off. The wind was blowing about thirty mile an hour, so there were pretty good swells out there.  I don't think I would have braved being out there in a boat with so little freeboard.  If you look carefully, you can see a long gun on the left. You can also see little duck heads here and there. Hunters are not allowed to shoot "sitting ducks."

They weren't alone out there though. There is often a second boat which assists the layout boat. This one also contains a hunter with a shotgun.

It looked to me as though this larger boat was making wide circles around the smaller boat in order to scare up ducks that might hopefully fly within range of the smaller boat. I may be wrong about that, but they seemed to be working in tandem.

When they were done hunting, they stowed the smaller boat on the bow of the larger craft and all headed home. If I shot a duck under conditions like this, I think I would want to savor e-v-e-r-y bite!

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