John’s Note: Dustin Mizell of Foley, Alabama, owns Fish-Kabob Bowfishing and Charters www.fish-kabob.com, Mizell’s Mounts – a taxidermy business, South Coast Safaris – his local bowhunting guide service – and Puddin Proof Productions – a video company. He specializes in one of the fastest-growing and most-exciting outdoor sports – bowfishing – that combines hunting and fishing.
I went to the University of Alabama and got a degree in wildlife entertainment and conservation. Before I went to college, I already had started guiding and working as a deckhand for charter boats in Orange Beach, Ala. I always knew I wanted to work in the outdoors. My big dream was to have a hunting and fishing TV show. While I was in college, I interned with several different companies as a fishing guide and a deckhand.
When I got out of college, I didn’t really have the connections or the funding to start a TV show. So, I went back to what I knew best, which was guiding. I felt sure I always could make money as a guide, because I knew the waters along Alabama’s Gulf Coast, and I knew the hunting land in the Mobile Delta near my home, which teemed with wild hogs, deer and turkey. I was born in Mobile, Ala. We moved to Gulf Shores, Ala. (a beach community) when I was young, and I went to Gulf Shores High School. Once out of college, I set-up my guide service in Foley, which is only 10 miles from the beach.
The Evolution of a Saltwater Bowfishing Business:
Before I went to college, my friends and I always had shot bows and arrows. When I was 10 or 12, my friends and I decided to start shooting fish with our bows and arrows. At that time, we didn’t know anyone or had heard of anyone who shot fish with bows and arrows. So, in our eyes, we were creating a new off-season sport for bowhunters. We made our own equipment. As I got older, I learned that bowfishing had been around for quite some time, and other bowfisherman from all over the nation were participating in the sport we thought we had created.
When I got out of college, I was guiding rod-and-reel fishermen. Quickly, I realized that there were a lot of people in Gulf Shores/Orange Beach guiding offshore and inshore fishermen. So, I knew, if I was to be able to earn a living, I needed to create a business that didn’t exist in the Orange Beach/Gulf Shores/Fort Morgan/Foley, Alabama, area. I began my business by offering bowfishing charters strictly in fresh water, but I didn’t get very many requests for freshwater trips for bowfishing. I continued to run my rod-and-reel fishing business, but my buddies and I were still shooting fish at night and on weekends.
I decided to offer saltwater bowfishing trips and see if that business could pick up steam. The first year out of the box, we were very successful and took quite a number of people bowfishing. Today, we run three bowfishing boats, and our business continues to grow. We started off with inshore saltwater trips shooting sting rays, mullet, sheepshead and other inshore saltwater species. Too, I took my bow and fish arrows with me when I was working as a deckhand on some of the charter boats out of Orange Beach. When we’d see fish close to the surface offshore, and I’d shoot them, some of the people on the fishing charters wanted to learn to shoot fish like I did. Most of the people on the charters that I worked were amazed that someone could shoot a bow and arrow from a boat offshore and take fish. Today I’m often asked, “How many fish can we legally take?” Since I run bowfishing trips in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi, we abide by the laws of the state where we’re fishing. Bowfishermen are allowed to take the same size, number and types of fish that spear fishermen can take in most states and in federal waters. So, about any fish you can take with a spear gun, you can take with a bow and arrow.
When I wasn’t working as a deckhand, my buddies and I went offshore and shot fish with our bows and arrows. We shot quite a few remoras. These fish have suction cups on the tops of their heads and usually attach themselves to sharks. When the shark makes a kill and begins to tear up the fish it’s eating, the remora turns loose of the shark and feeds on the scraps. Some people call these fish pilot sharks. We see quite a few of them when we go offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.
When trolling or fishing along the edges of Sargassum grass lines, we shoot chicken dolphins (small dolphin) and Florida tripletails. Occasionally, we get a shot at a cobia that comes up from the wrecks and reefs, when we chum for snapper and other reef fish. Or, while trolling down the bank for king mackerel and Spanish mackerel, we may spot cobia near the surface.
Often, during the early part of snapper season, when we chum-up snapper and get them close to the surface, I’ll shoot them. As I’ve continued to explore saltwater bowfishing possibilities, we’ve been able to put together a wide variety of bowfishing experiences for saltwater bowfishermen. Today, we offer offshore bowfishing trips, nearshore bowfishing trips, bay bowfishing trips, brackish water trips and freshwater bowfishing trips. I don’t know of any type of bowfishing trip that we don’t offer.
I also offer combination wild hog hunts during the daylight hours and bowfishing trips at night. Go to my webpage at www.fish-kabob.com; on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/fishkabob; by email firstname.lastname@example.org; or, by phone 251-504-4709.