Division of Archives and Records Service

Shooting Wild Ducks after Sunset

Rebekkah Shaw
September 30, 2019

While looking for an old jury book, I came across U.S. Commissioner Harmel Pratt’s criminal docket book (series 4879). I couldn’t help but browse. Three pages, shown at the bottom, caught my eye. Here’s the story they tell.

It was an hour after sunset November 6th, 1892 when Harry Edwards, J. Snyder, and John Rockwell went duck hunting in Salt Lake County. A complaint was filed by L.B. Wright. Perhaps they were on his property? Perhaps he was trying to enjoy a peaceful sunset? Maybe he was upset because he wasn’t invited? We don’t know.

A look at the Utah Code from 1898 (series 83238) shows us that shooting or killing a wild duck is unlawful.

The next day, November 7th, all three men reported to the court.

John Rockwell pled guilty and paid a fine of $11.25. This would be roughly $310.39 today.

Harry Edwards and J. Snyder pled not guilty. They both paid a $25 bond (about $690 today) and the trial was scheduled for November 10th, 1892 at 2 pm.

Two days later Edwards appeared with his attorney and changed his plea to guilty. He paid a $10 fine and $13.70 for prosecution costs. Those were deducted from the $25 bond he paid on the 7th. The balance of $1.30 (about $37 today) was paid to his attorney and he was discharged.

J. Snyder went to court on November 10th. He withdrew his plea and paid the same $23.70 fine as Edwards had except he got to keep the balance of $1.30.

Hunting around the Great Salt Lake after sunset is still against the law per Administrative Rule R657-9-31. As hunting season approaches, be sure to know the laws and rules to follow! If you’re not careful, you may be paying more than $11.25!