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Waterfowling on the Chesapeake, 1819-1936

C.John Sullivan

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ISBN 10: 0801871557 / ISBN 13: 9780801871559
Published by Johns Hopkins University Press
New Condition: New Hardcover
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Bibliographic Details

Title: Waterfowling on the Chesapeake, 1819-1936

Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press

Binding: Hardback

Book Condition: New

About this title


Part documentary, part nostalgic history, and part informational catalogue, Waterfowling on the Chesapeake, 1819–1936 explores a century of hunting on the Chesapeake Bay and its major tributaries―from the heyday of gun clubs and market shooting to the rise of conservation law. Drawing on oral histories and period documents and artifacts, C. John Sullivan, a longtime collector of decoys and hunting paraphernalia and a frequent guest curator of exhibits, looks at the effects of technological change, the relationship between hunter and dog, the recognition of decoys as folk art, and the history of hunting. He also introduces us to famous and lesser-known carvers and others who share an enthusiasm for this feature of Chesapeake cultural history and life.


"The antique hunting decoy has become an icon of the Chesapeake Bay. If you have ever admired these old Chesapeake Bay decoys and wondered about the men who made and used them, Waterfowling on the Chesapeake is a must to read. John Sullivan, a lifelong student of Bay decoys and waterfowl hunting history, takes us to the elaborate gunning clubs of the nineteenth-century sportsmen and the less glamorous habitations of the hunters who supplied the Baltimore and Philadelphia markets with choice canvasback ducks. The evolution of waterfowling guns, the use of the deadly sinkbox for hunting offshore, and the origins of the famous retrieving and tolling dogs are woven into the fabric of this comprehensive account. The author shares with us his visits with old-time decoy carvers and waterfowl hunters, bringing to life the rich history of this unique area of Maryland."

(Samuel H. Dyke, Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art)

"Since the age of twelve, I have been exposed to shooting on the Chesapeake and its tributary rivers. John Sullivan has created an epic, in depth, study of all phases of this great wildfowling paradise. His readers will be treated to an exceptional visit to this historical sport that has given wholesome employment and tremendous pleasure to thousands."

(J. Fife Symington, former chairman, Maryland Historical Society)

"The definitive book on Chesapeake wildfowl hunting has finally been written. John Sullivan has taken his forty plus years of carefully collecting gunning club records, decoy carving biographies, and hunting artifacts and turned it all into the published record and reference we will all use for years to come. Gun laws, duck police, Chesapeake retrievers, guns used, and brands burned into decoys, gun stocks, and the oars used on the sneak boats? It's all here and combined into a logical, readable, and entertaining presentation beyond our expectations."

(Henry H. Stansbury, Maryland Historical Society)

"It is hard to imagine the extent of waterfowling in its heyday on the Chesapeake―the sheer abundance of migrating birds, the proliferation of gunning clubs and the number of sport and market gunners on these waters, the untold wooden decoys carved and used there. John Sullivan provides insight into this era and shares his deep appreciation for the material culture it has left behind. Waterfowling on the Chesapeake brings previously unexamined aspects of this heritage to light and reassesses some of the region's most prominent decoy carvers."

(Pete Lesher, Curator, Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum)

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