Fowling is the catching of birds for meat, feathers or any other part with commercial value. It is comparable to wildfowling, the practice of catching birds for food or sport. The term is perhaps better known in the Fens of eastern England than elsewhere, but was certainly not confined to the Fens. The land margins of the north produced down feathers from eider duck for eiderdowns and quilted jackets without necessarily killing the birds. In the Western Isles of Scotland, seabirds were taken from their nests on cliffs. In The Fens and other similar places, a decoy was part of a landowner's well-equipped estate.
The epitome of fowling was, however, the punt gunner. He had what amounted to a long, small-bore muzzle-loaded cannon. It was mounted along the centre-line of the forward half of a specially designed boat which slightly resembled a heavy wooden kayak in form. The fowler lay in the after half with paddle blades strapped to his forearms. The skill was to stalk a raft of duck until within the rather short range required and to fire the gun from which small shot scattered. It remained to gather up the harvest and get it to market. In the winter, the punt gun might be mounted on a sled and the procedure repeated on the same principles.
- For decoys, see pp. 131-133.
- For punt gunning, see pp. 125-130.
- For netting, see pp. 135-138.