This is an old Swivel Gun

        One day on vacation, I came across the biggest shotgun I've ever seen.   It was at the J.N. "Ding" Darling Wildlife Refuge in Sanibel Island, Florida.   You know there's an interesting story behind a gun like this.   The plaque below this 10 foot shotgun tells the whole story.

10 Ft. Long Swivel Gun


        This 10 foot long shotgun is a relic from the intensive law enforcement campaign of 1934 and 1935.   It was seized by the Game Wardens of the old U.S. Biological Survey (now the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service).   The gun was used by illegal market hunters who were killing Canvasback and Redhead ducks by the thousands on the eastern shore of Maryland.   They used to sell those ducks to the Night Club trade in New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore.

        The gun was originally mounted on the bow of a motor-powered, flat bottom, shallow-draft skiff for night shooting.   They would get the ducks to huddle together in the beam of a spotlight in the pathless marshes.   Then, loaded with two or three pounds of lead shot they would fire at a raft of sitting ducks.   This would kill from eighty to a hundred ducks with each shot.   The ducks were shipped by Express, in eel kegs, through a chain of tough game bootleggers.

        One dark night the U.S. Game Wardens spotted their craft and gave chase; but before they overtook it, the swivel gun was yanked from its moorings, and thrown overboard (with the ducks) to destroy the evidence.   Several years later this gun was found buried in the muddy marsh.   The firing device and swivel were rusted away, but the gun was sent to me as a souvenir for my brief service as Chief of the Biological Survey.

        Twenty-one "Armadas" and similar swivel guns are now on exhibit at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife in the Washington office.   They were all seized in the same law enforcement campaign.   The most lawless market-shooting in the U.S was practically wiped out.

Jay N. Darling            


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