The History of Hunting and Conservation

Waterfowl and ducks in particular have been hunted since the dawn of time. Prehistoric man used the meat, feathers, and down to survive. This much is evident from cave paintings found all over the world in areas that ducks were present. In the Egyptian tomb of Khum-Hotpe, murals depicting duck hunts were found by European explorers. In the Americas, ducks were probably hunted well before 200 BC, though that’s the earliest record we have that depicts this activity.

The Shotgun

Today, ducks are hunted with shotguns. These weapons spray out multiple balls in a tight pattern that’s effective for bring down a flying duck. This practice of hunting with shotguns started in the 17th century. Matchlock guns were used, and reloading was a labor intensive task compared with today’s weapons. In the late 19th century the pump shotgun came along, making it much easier for hunters to reload and harvest more ducks.

People of Note

There are a few individuals that pushed the sport along and developed guns or hunting techniques that are still used today:
Joseph Manton. Manton was responsible for turning duck hunting from a way of living into a sport. Because of his efforts, conservation also became a priority.
Fred Kimball. Kimball was a hunter from Illinois who invented the modern shotgun choke. This small interchangeable piece that sets into the tip of a shotgun barrel makes hunting much more effective.
John Browning. Browning invented the semi-automatic 12 gauge shotgun in 1902. This is still the most popular gun used today in duck hunting around the world.

Conservation Acts

With the rise of so many recreational hunters, it was vital that conservation measures be put in place so future generations could enjoy the sport. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act was established in 1918 that prohibited the hunting of waterfowl without a license. This law is still in effect today. To get a license, a hunter must be responsible and take a course outlining proper hunting methods.