Novice Diver - What should happen before underwater hunting?

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Just Don

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Hi all,

I'm a brand new diver, so I know that I don't have the experience and expertise to start spearfishing, etc., yet... but I'm intrigued by the idea, and would love to try it in the future.

With that in mind, what would you all recommend for experience level before my first foray into any kind of underwater hunting activities? (I know I need to get comfortable with and good at buoyancy and trim, and I need to get some "just regular" dives in to feel more comfortable under water before taking on a bunch of distractions.) Are there any things in particular I should be thinking about/working on in my early dives that will set me up for success in the future with this side of the sport?

And once I do get that experience under my belt, what are the best creatures/places/starting dives to get into hunting underwater? (I'm sure I'll have to *go* somewhere to do it. I'm pretty sure there aren't a lot of good underwater hunting opportunities in North Texas...)

Thanks!
 

CuzzA

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Gonna be tough to achieve and maintain proficiency living in North Texas. Do 50 dives. Work on trim, buoyancy and most importantly smooth ascents. If you vacation try to get some dives in with sharks. I think spearfishing should be more about food than sport. That said, there's no substitute for experience and repetition for spearfishing. It's not something that can be taught easily without hands-on experience.
 

JackOfDiamonds

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Take the time to learn precautions to take with a spear, maybe even a course.

You'd be surprised how much damage people can do to themselves because they did not pay attention or did something stupid with the spear.
 

Scraps

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JustDon,

Some spearfishing charters, including the one I work for, offer the services of a spearfishing instructor/guide as an add-on to the charter fee. They provide the gun, give instruction topside, make sure you enjoy a taste of success in the water, and advise you on equipment purchases afterward. It's well worth the money, especially since you get to keep what your guide shoots.
 

Belzelbub

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There is no set number of dives, as everyone is different. You touched on some of the indicators already. Buoyancy control is key. Also make sure you are regularly checking your gas, depth, etc. Though don’t be surprised if you gas consumption goes up. I certainly use a lot more gas on a hunt compared to a regular dive.

Ok, so now that you feel you are comfortable, don’t run out and get a gun just yet. Do some dives with something in your hands. It can be just a big stick, or anything. This will at least force you to hold onto something, and control you buoyancy, check gauges, etc. while maintains control of something in your hand. You may find that you need to reconfigure gear a bit to be able to handle it all.

Then, maybe add a pole spear to the mix. They are relatively inexpensive and easy to control.

Speargun preferences vary based on type of hunting you do. Preferred method in FL Gulf is freeshafting. Not all guns can do this, but if hunting bottom fish it is so much cleaner. No shooting line to have to wrap or get tangled in. I started lineshafting, but am so glad I switched. I can still lineshaft if needed, but generally don’t. Obviously, this method of hunting won’t work higher up in the water column.

I’ve started teaching my daughter. She started with a pole spear and watching me. The last couple of dives I’ve let her use my older Spearfishing Specialties Sea Hornet. She started right away with freeshafting. She got her first hogfish earlier this month.
 

CuzzA

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Take the time to learn precautions to take with a spear, maybe even a course.

You'd be surprised how much damage people can do to themselves because they did not pay attention or did something stupid with the spear.
This for sure. Which is why most spearos dive solo or same ocean. Do not mount a camera to your gun. I've seen too many videos of guys diving with buddies who forget they are pointing a loaded weapon at their friend as they try and get the footage.

Bottom line, you need to be a self reliant diver, which includes dealing with sharks by yourself.

And you need to learn how to see the size of the fish. FWC will ticket divers for floating short speared fish. Shoot some grunts first and you'll get a good understanding of the difference between what a fish looks like underwater vs above. And grunts are good table fare, just not a lot of meat.
 

Bert van den Berg

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You don't have to be a scuba diver to "hunt" underwater. I was spearfishing long before scuba diving. You can do this freediving. Start shallow. Diving for scallops is easier than trying to get fish or lobsters. The scallops don't swim very fast. :)
 

CuzzA

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You don't have to be a scuba diver to "hunt" underwater. I was spearfishing long before scuba diving. You can do this freediving. Start shallow.
You certainly can. And the culture here in Florida, especially the Gulf Coast, is both are legal, acceptable and we have a very healthy fishery.

That said, average viz sub 60 ft in the Gulf of Mexico is 15ft. I do not like going out with freedivers only here because unless they can dive to 80-100 ft to get in blue water they don't catch reef fish. Also it is rarely top to bottom viz except the fall and spring, so lots of drops along a ledge to just find where the fish are, which could be a mile long ledge. We often drop two divers in the middle of the ledge and send them in opposite directions.

So with our shallow shelf, that requires 80 miles of water travel, that freediver who tagged along with us spends $80 on gas and maybe goes home with a snapper or two.
 

Belzelbub

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Do not mount a camera to your gun. I've seen too many videos of guys diving with buddies who forget they are pointing a loaded weapon at their friend as they try and get the footage.
Mounting a camera to a speargun is a bad idea. That is the biggest reason for sure.

They also suck as a camera mount. On paper, it sounds like a good idea. Nice stable platform. Certainly less jittery than a mask mount. Until you take a shot. You can get some great footage lining up a shot, but the shot itself is lost in a blur.
 
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