The origins of fishing
Fishing began in the Stone Age (and a caveman called in sick the
following Monday to go fishing). Before there were fishhooks and
fishing string, prehistoric fishermen used spears to catch fish.
Later, the more "modern" prehistoric fishermen used a gorge to catch
fish. A gorge was a baited piece of bone or flint with two sharp
ends and a leather line attached at the middle.
Angling, which is fishing for sport rather than for food, dates
all the way back to the Old Testament. It's not known when the first
basic fishing pole (without a reel) was used, but one source
indicates that the Egyptians fished with rods, lines and hooks as
early as 2000 B.C. The first drawing of a fishing pole was from the
Orient in 1195.
In the 1650s, England's Charles Kirby developed the bent hook
that we use today.
In 1820, George Snyder of Paris, Ky., became the first American
to produce fishing poles with reels. Originally, the reel was used
mainly for storing excess string. It's possible that the British, on
"the other side of the Pond," made fishing poles with reels around
the same time as Snyder, although there are no records to verify or
Hunting with bows and arrows
Prehistoric hunters used bows and arrows thousands of years ago,
possibly as far back as the first boomerang. Contrary to popular
opinion, the boomerang was not effective for hunting.
The bow and arrow wasn't the first hunting tool, though, as stone
axes and spears preceded it. The crossbow was invented in the Middle
Ages, around the late 1500s, and its silent nature benefited hunters
then as it does today. Even now there are primitive tribes of people
who use bows and arrows to hunt down their meals.
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From muzzleloaders and muskets to the 21st century
Gunpowder was invented in China around 1040 for use in fireworks
and rockets; it wasn't until after it arrived in Europe a couple of
centuries later that it was first used in guns.
The first known reference to a gun was in 1326, although it was
called a vaso because it resembled a vase. It bore no resemblance to
any modern guns; in fact, it was fired like a gun but it shot an
arrow rather than a bullet. Since it was called a vaso, it probably
came from Italy. Early guns were fired with burning sticks or hot
Shotguns were used to hunt small game as early as 1549.
Single-barrel shotguns were followed by double-barrel shotguns in
the late 1700s. Early muskets were muzzleloading guns that were set
off with a lighted match. Muskets first appeared in the 1600s and
were replaced by rifles around 1850.
Whether you hunt with a shotgun or a .22 -- a Remington, a Ruger
or a Winchester -- chances are that your gun is similar to those
made a hundred years ago.
My time's up. It's time to take my nephew snipe hunting.
Paul Niemann may be reached at
Copyright Paul Niemann 2006