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Spear Hunter Now Gone, But He Holds Unique Spot In Alabama Hunting Lore
 
By Mike Bolton
Posted Monday November 25 2013, 10:58 AM
 
Gene Morris is the only hunter known by Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries’ officials to have killed a deer with a spear in Alabama. He killed several including this nice buck in 2007.
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The year was 1997, and the Conservation Advisory Board (CAB) meeting at Gulf State Park promised to be a doozy. In addition to the usual dog hunting/anti-dog hunting battle on tap that day was an eyebrow-raising proposal to legalize spear hunting for white-tailed deer in Alabama.

When the proposal hit the floor that day, there was a mix of bewilderment, snickers and anger in the crowd.

Some snickered because they thought the idea of sneaking up on a deer and killing it with a spear was preposterious. Others were bewildered as to where such an idea came from and why the CAB was even considering the proposal.

Members of the animals-rights group PETA in the crowd were angry because they claimed killing a deer with a spear would be inhumane. They further explained that Alabama would become the laughingstock of the world for legalizing spear hunting for deer.

“Heck, lady,” someone in the crowd chided. “If y’all don’t want anybody to kill deer, you should all be up here trying to get everybody to hunt deer with spears.”

The crowd roared with laughter.

At the microphone that day was Baldwin County’s Gene Morris. He was the one who had petitioned the CAB to legalize spear hunting. He ignored the ridicule and laughter and explained to the board that he could indeed kill a deer with a spear. There were snickers in the crowd and raised eyebrows among board members.

Morris explained that the reason he was there was because he wanted to kill a deer with a spear legally. A spear was not on the list of approved weapons for deer hunting in Alabama.

“How far do you think you could throw one of those?” board member Jane Brock asked Morris about the spear in his hand.

“I could hit you from here,” he said matter-of-factly from his position at the microphone 20 or so feet away.

Even though Morris’ comment seemed to unnerve the board somewhat, the CAB voted to approve spear hunting for whitetail deer. It wasn’t like the resource was going to be harmed because of large numbers of spear kills, one biologist joked.

Today, more than 15 years after that vote, hunters reading the regulations for legal weapons for deer hunting are often surprised to see a spear listed.

Their obvious question is whether anyone has ever killed a deer with a spear in Alabama?

The answer is yes.

Morris made good on his promise. He killed several deer, including several nice bucks, with spears thrown from tree stands through the years. State officials say his spear kills were the only ones ever reported to them. They believe Morris is the only person to ever kill a deer with a spear in Alabama.

Morris, who lived in Baldwin County, died last November after suffering a heart attack at age 78. Appropriately, the colorful character who called himself, “The Greatest Spear Hunter Alive,” died in a tree stand with a spear in his hand.

Was he really the greatest spear hunter alive?

“If you’re the only one who does something, you’re the world’s greatest,” he was fond of saying.

There was better evidence that Morris’ boast was more than big talk. In addition to taking several deer in Alabama, Morris traveled the world hunting with a spear. He hunted in Argentina and Africa as well as Florida, Texas and Hawaii.

Besides deer in Alabama, Morris used his spear to take zebra, eland, gemsbok, alligator, cougar, buffalo, goat, bear, boar and ram.

Never one to be shy of promoting his exploits, Morris opened the Spear Hunting Museum in Summerdale in Baldwin County in 2006. The museum displays many of the mounts of the 556 animals he claimed to have killed with a spear since taking his first one in 1973.

The museum is a stop for many Alabamians traveling to the beaches of Orange Beach and Gulf Shores.

Despite Morris’ death, the museum remains open. In his will he directed that his estate be sold and the money to be used to keep the museum open as long as possible, a worker at the museum told AON.
 
 
 
 
 
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