A tradition of shooting Common Loons (Gavia immer) for food and for bone fishing lures was established on Shackleford Banks, North Carolina, by the mid-19th century. This strongly ingrained tradition continued to be maintained, primarily by residents of nearby Harkers Island, when inhabitants of the banks moved inland about 1899. The practice probably arose because, on the east/west-tending Shackleford Banks, loons migrating northward in spring flew sufficiently low over land to be within shotgun range. Spring loon shooting, although illegal since 1918, grew to the point that dozens of hunters might be present on the banks on a given day. A strict law enforcement crackdown on this activity began in 1950, and the banks were effectively shut down for loon shooting. Loons continued to be shot opportunistically nearby, but a growing cultural intolerance of this practice brought the loon hunting tradition to an end. We document the existing memories and the few, scattered written sources concerning this unique local interaction between humans and birds.

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