BRADENTON, Fla. - A self-proclaimed outdoorsman and fisherman recently combined two of his passions -- guns and spear fishing -- in an effort to create an epic, viral video, but his actions in that video got the attention of officers at FWC and the federal government.
Courtland Hunt used a modified Glock 9mm firearm and non-toxic rounds during a fishing trip 30 miles off Anna Maria Island. His preferred catch: The invasive lionfish.
"I'm an avid fisherman, avid outdoorsman [and] hunter. It seemed like the thing to do, take the gun underwater and shoot fish with it," Hunt said.
Hunt said he and his buddies spent six months perfecting their deep-water weapon.
"We needed to put a suppressor on it to make it quieter, make it safer," he said. "Who wouldn't want to go shoot their gun at fish underwater? Especially a species that's detrimental to the environment."
Lionfish are considered an invasive species and there are few restrictions against killing then.
When officers with FWC saw video of Hunt shooting lionfish, they began an investigation. FWC said the problem is not the killing of lionfish, but that shooting at fish of any kind is not an allowed method in state and federal waters.
"It's definitely illegal inside Florida waters," Hunt said. "Luckily, we weren't within nine miles, so they deferred it to the feds; the feds came back and said we weren't breaking any laws."
So he says he's going to take on a new challenge and add even more firepower, potentially retrofitting an automatic rifle for underwater fishing.
"If that barrel is 120 feet underwater, and you're breathing thru scuba equipment, and firing a gun three feet from your head with a suppressor and underwater ammo, then yeah, I guess it's shooting fish in a barrel," Hunt joked.