© 2017 North Suffolk Wildfowlers
 

For those who new to Wild fowling, it is worth looking at some of the other aspects of the business, Such as the tools of the trade. Unlike other shooting pursuits wild fowling has always had a place for the big gun and the art of home-loading. While in the long history of pursuit of waterfowl, and more when it was of a commercial nature there has always been a place for the bigger bores. Sadly, as practicality becomes more prevalent the use of the more unusual firearms have now been resigned to the cabinet as a collectors piece more than anything else. There are a few of us who still use different calibres than the traditional 12. The most popular is the 10 bore. Availability still exists from 70-80's built Spanish side by sides to old English hammer guns made by Tolley, right up to modern automatics made by Browning and Remington. The modern 10 gauge is chambered in 3 1/2" but earlier English guns were either 2 5/8 or 2 7/8". In the days of lead use you could throw up to 2 5/8 oz of shot from each barrel!! With steel 46 grams is now the norm- But if you use the exotics such as Hevi-shot or Tungsten you can load comfortably up to 2 oz (If you can afford it or your gun can handle it!). Moving on, we come next to the 8 Bore. Now considerably rare in regular use, there was only a couple made for the modern market back in the 1980's mostly derived from  10 bore models which had the wall thickness to be bored out to an 8, such as the 'Greylag' made by Elderkins. I am only aware of one prototype 8g Automatic which was made by a well known wildfowler and gunsmith in the UK, but it never saw production. Chambered in 3 1/4" the debate over its effectiveness against a 10 has been greatly argued times over by many a user as the load weight is little different form a 10 but pattern improves (Allegedly). We now come to the 4 bore. Made in considerable numbers in both single and double barrel in the mid to late nineteenth century by some of the top UK gun makers, those that were designed as a shoulder gun were often intended to double up for use as a punt gun. Not for the faint hearted as a shoulder gun, most come in at between 15-18 lbs and have the recoil to match! Normally chambered in 4", and Brass cartridges were mostly used, but Eley Kynoch did commercially load some paper based cartridges for a while. Finally, last in the line is the punt gun. They were more bespoke and designed for one task- and that was to commercially harvest wild fowl. Used from a punt, which was typically a long, flat bottomed boat the regular use had died out by the 1960's. They are still used by some followers, but essentially the art is gone now. Punt gunning  typically consists of sneaking up on roosting wild fowl and making one shot only- Although there are many stories of their successful use.As for bore size, they were mostly 4 downwards. Modern legislation does not permit any internal barrel diameter of 1.75 Inches to be used and as such they were often measured by shot load as opposed to bore size.