National Geographic : 1983 Nov
(Continuedfrom page 649) the discharge often sent the boat back a long way through the water. ... The gunner paddled up qui etly to the raft of sleeping canvas-backs, ad justed his gun to suit himself and discharged it, sometimes gathering from 75 to 100 ducks as the result." But even when everything went smooth ly-when the weather was calm and the gun caught the resting birds with their heads up (instead of tucked under protective wings) night shooting was never as deadly as day shooting from a sinkbox, or battery, using shotguns almost identical to those used by millions of recreational hunters today. A sinkbox was a kind of floating coffin set in the midst of hundreds of decoys in the middle of prime diving-duck feeding grounds. Birds poured in and were slain by the thousands. According to Grinnell, "... in Chesapeake Bay, it is recorded, a gunner, shooting from a battery, with two guns, killed, in one day, over 500 ducks; and there is a more recent record of one man who killed 300 birds in a day." The crime was neither in the time of day nor the technology. The crime was in refus ing to establish any management guidelines. When the state of New York, in 1910, pro hibited the sale of wild game, a crucial east ern market was eliminated. Even this was not enough. In 1918 the federal government assumed overall responsibility for migra tory birds.