This footage, shot 60 years ago on December 23, 1956, is widely known as “the most ducks ever caught on camera at one time.” Some 300,000 mallards were spread over 40 acres of Arkansas’s Claypool Reservoir, making for an incredible scene as the cameras rolled and the video broadcast live to millions around the country.
But just as amazing as the ducks on-screen is the work required behind the camera to make it all possible.
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s then chief of information, George Purvis, invited Dave Garroway and NBC’s popular “Wide Wide World” show to visit the reservoir and see what Arkansas duck hunting was all about. In order to broadcast the show live back in New York, however, the crew had to rig an elaborate system of cables, generators, cameras, and phone lines from the Arkansas woods to a town 20 miles away. The video was fed to the town, then on to Memphis, and ultimately to New York to be broadcast across the nation.
This story has got it all: duck hunting, television, TNT, and 300,000-plus birds. Click here to read a special anniversary article from ESPN detailing the lengths Purvis and the rest went to make this scene possible.