Chuck Belmore of Georgia has been bowfishing for the past 35 years as a tournament bowfisherman and a bowfishing guide. He’s taken several, second-place finishes in the Bowfishing Association of America (BAA) World Championships. In 2011, he won the World Bowfishing Championship sanctioned by the Bowfishing Association of America with the largest catch of fish at 748 pounds. The World Championship is made up of two events. One event is the numbers side. If you compete in that event, you can shoot as many legal fish as you can shoot for a night of bowfishing. In the Big 20 event, you can only shoot 20 of the biggest legal fish you can find, and the bowfisherman who has the heaviest weight of fish wins.
I started bowfishing as a little bitty kid. I had a tiny red bow and arrow, and I walked up and down the creeks looking for fish to shoot. I didn’t know that anyone else in the world was bowfishing besides me until I got older.
I became totally hooked on bowfishing when my dad brought home a VHS tape that showed guys bowfishing. When I was a young kid, I thought I wanted to grow up to be a professional bass fisherman. I loved to bass fish, and I figured that was the greatest thing in the world. However, once I started bowfishing, I changed directions because bowfishing had all the elements of what I loved to do. It combined hunting and fishing - the two sports I loved the most. I told myself, “This is the cat’s meow. I love this stuff.”
Although The Habit TV has been on the Sportsman Channel for the last 4 years, this year we’re moving over to the Mossy Oak GO app, because we believe we can reach more of our target audience there. People can get our show on their phones, tablets, computers and any other devices that allow them to connect to the web.
The biggest fish I ever shot with my bow was an alligator gar that weighed 220 pounds at Choke Canyon in south Texas. Often when we go away from home to film a TV show, everything that can go wrong seems to go wrong. We’d bowfished for 4-5 hours that night in high winds and muddy water. The weather was so rough that we finally said, “To heck with it. Let’s go in. Maybe tomorrow will be a better day for filming.”
Then the boat moved around a really big point and a huge gar was lying just under the surface. A friend of mine and I both drew our bows back at the same time and let our fish arrows fly. Both of us connected with the gar, and a big fight happened. Big alligator gars are much like shooting alligators. They have one big run in them, and this gar made its big run and went into a treetop.
The gar was down in 20 feet of water, and we were trying to get him out of that treetop. We had Muzzy 250-pound-test line attached to our fish arrows. Although the line was braided, that monster gar was pulling on that line in the treetops, and we were afraid the gar was going to saw our line in two. Finally, we were able to get over to the gar and got it up high enough in the water to put another arrow in it. But for 25 minutes, pure chaos reigned. When we finally got that monster-sized alligator gar in the boat, we did a bunch of high-fives.
Before Facebook was available, I still met a large number of other bowfishermen on forums on the internet. Then when I started going to tournaments, I met many of the bowfishermen I’d been talking to on the internet. Bowfishing tournaments were held all over the country. So, I met some of the nation’s top bowfisherman by competing in the tournaments. A friend I’d talked to in the forums and had met at bowfishing tournaments called and said, “The conditions are getting right for the big alligator gar to move into the shallows. You need to come out here, if you want to take one of those really big gar and film a TV show.” So that’s what we did.