Surely you’ve heard the saying…” you can kill two birds with one stone.” Well, believe it or not, if you owned a specific punt gun back in the day you could take down as many as 50-100 birds in one shot.
The world’s largest punt gun, known as “Irish Tom,” could take down 50 birds at one time, but sometimes it even managed to take out a couple dozen more. Measuring more than 14-feet long, Irish Tom’s barrel weighed in at more than 300 pounds and could fire more than three pounds of shot with the help of 10 ounces of black powder.
But how on earth would anyone be able to maneuver such a massive weapon?
The first owner of the gun built a specially reinforced punt boat that was 24-feet long. Hunters were intrigued with the gun and because they could get more “bang for their buck,” they did what they had to do to make it work, even if it meant working in groups of eight to ten at one time. This allowed them to maximize the number of game they could take down, and one hunter claimed he and three others shot down 419 ducks at one time.
“The birds flew off a short distance and began to feed again,” said United States hunter, Ray Todd. “We made three more shots that night. By morning we had killed over 1,000 ducks. They got $3.50 a pair in Baltimore, and it was the best night’s work we had ever done.”
So, while the idea of such a massive gun sounds a bit ridiculous, it turned out to be quite profitable for hunters who relied on their killings for income. But, as to be expected, there was a major downside to the mass shooting of the birds. The population of wild waterfowl drastically declines in the years following the use of these punt guns. It also lowered the habitat available to these animals. Many U.S. states started to outlaw the use of punt guns by the 1860s because of this and the combination of the Lacey Act of 1900 and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 officially ended the use of punt guns in the country. However; punt guns are still legal in the United Kingdom, but they aren’t nearly as large as the “Irish Tom.” Instead, the barrels are only allowed to be a less than 1.75 inches in. In addition, hunters are required to have a government-issued permit for the black powder and the gun itself. They must also obey the stern hunting seasons. Luckily, even though they are legal in the U.K., there are still only a few dozen being used there.
Some of the commenters felt differently about the reason for the gun laws in the U.K…
“No, it is because the UK has absolutely crazy gun laws that would rather punish someone for little clerical errors or defend one’s home than actually preventing crime. The kind of people who would have the wealth to properly manage such a gun under the laws is probably just as common as the guns themselves.”