About everyone who sees Courtland Hunt’s “Glock 9MM Fishing” video on YouTube has about the same initial reaction, his friends and family in Bradenton say.
That reaction is: “Did I just see what I thought I saw? Did that guy just shoot a lionfish with a handgun ... while diving deep underwater?”
As of Sunday night, the video has had 508,806 views on YouTube.
Hunt, a highly-regarded Bradenton spear-fisherman and mortgage broker, talked about his Glock video moments after he won first place in Sunday’s two-day Suncoast Spearfish Challenge, whose final weigh-in was at the Seafood Shack in Cortez.
Hunt won the Suncoast the old-fashioned way — with his spear-gun.
But his now famous four-minute, nine-second Glock video was also 100 percent real, Hunt confirmed Sunday.
The video was made about 30 miles offshore of Anna Maria Island.
“In order to find lionfish, you have to be in about a hundred feet of water, and that is how far out you have to go,” Hunt said.
The idea for the video came about because of two passions that Hunt has — conservation and having fun outdoors.
Lionfish are a venomous, invasive species from the Indo-Pacific region that eat native fish species, decimating local reefs, Hunt said.
Hunt is committed to catching lionfish and providing them to local restaurants to save reefs.
“They are delicious,” Hunt said. “People think they are poisonous, like a puffer fish. The spines have venom but the flesh is one of the best tasting you will find.”
Although he supports harvesting lionfish with a spear to rid the reef of them, he thought it could also be a fun and worthy pursuit to simply shoot them with a handgun.
“The Glock video actually started last year when I won a AR-15 rifle by finishing first in the world’s largest spearfishing tournament, the St. Pete Open,” Hunt said while sitting upstairs in the Seafood Shack with his wife, Kelly, and 4-year-old son, Kellan. “I was going to take that rifle underwater. Those guns are made for Zombies. But in the absence of Zombies, we said what are we going to do with this thing? Let’s go shoot fish underwater. This is what we do. But we were highly advised against that. They said it would blow up and kill us. Probably. So, we decided we would start with something smaller, a Glock.”
The problem was the sound. A gun fired underwater by a diver can puncture ear drums, Hunt said.
“There’s lots of videos on YouTube of shooting a gun underwater in someone’s pool,” Hunt said. “However, you don’t see anyone with their head underwater. What we found is that when you put your head underwater it is incredibly loud and painful for your eardrums. So, we had to find a way to suppress it and make it safer for your ears. That is how the project really evolved.”
To make the gun safe for ears, Hunt and his friends talked to companies that manufacture sound suppressors for firearms.
“They said, ‘We don’t know,’ ” Hunt said. “So, we had to do it ourselves.”
The team that built the suppressor for the Glock included Bradenton’s Aubrey Brown and Dan Gallagher, both engineers, Hunt said.
“They figured out how to do it and gave it to me,” Hunt said. “It’s definitely a team effort.”
After the video was shot, it took Hunt months working in his office to get the video just the way he wanted it, with music and helpful graphics, Kelly Hunt said.
Courtland Hunt said he has had very little negative feedback from the video.
“The response has been overwhelmingly positive,” Hunt said. “Much more than I thought. It’s purely because we took the steps to make it safe. We used lead-free ammunition. We made the gun safe on our ears. We shot a lionfish. We took every precaution we could. We didn’t shoot bullets into the reef.
“Every time someone has something negative to say about the video, someone comes behind them and says, ‘You are wrong, it was addressed in the video, which is great, good to see,” Hunt added.
Overall results in Suncoast Spearfish Challenge
Rank and score
- 1. Courtland Hunt, 122.00
- 2. Travis Kelly, 119.05
- 3. Tom Mitchell, 118.20
- 4. DJ Strott, 111.25
- 5. Jim Brennan, 105.15
- 6. Milo Talokonnikoff, 104.75
- 7. Alex Hillen, 102.25
- 8. John Raber, 95.00
- 9. GR Tarr, 93.05
- 10. Brett Booth, 91.85