One of our most clicked-on stories of last year was the story of the Peoria, Illinois Carp Hunters, a group of fisherman who decided to dress up in gladiator-like costumes and kill invasive Asian carp with swords while being pulled behind a boat. Now they're back with even more footage and, better yet, even more weapons. You don't want to miss this.
Just take a look at what you're about to see:
And this year the crew even has some new first-person perspective footage complete with antlers, of course:
So are you ready for almost six minutes of pure enjoyment? Without further ado (content warning -- there could be a few words used that aren't suitable for all audiences):
So why do the Carp Hunters "hunt?" The video description has some info:
Peoria Carp Hunters II. We take what we did last year to new heights; employing new weapons, warriors, methodologies, and an unbridled excitement to killing this invasive species.
But we decided to dig a little deeper.
We asked Nathan Wallick and Zac Hoffman -- the lead hunters -- to give us a little more information about why they do what they do and how it started. They forwarded us an interview, and that is almost as entertaining as the video. Hint: it involves a lightbulb moment when talking about deep sea "sword fishing."
Here are some excerpts:
Q. So, you're the Peoria Carp Hunters? Tell me, when did this whole thing begin, and how?
A. Last year, Zac and I were out on the IL River, bow fishing for Asian carp. Somehow we got into a discussion about swordfish. I told him my experience deep sea fishing in Hawaii when I was in fourth grade, and how I caught a large dolphin fish and had a swordfish on my line, but he got off. Zac replied, “I’d love to go sword fishing sometime! But it would probably cost too much money that I don’t have.” That’s when the light bulb went off. I looked at Zac and said, “Well, why can’t we go sword fishing?” He replied, “I told you, I don’t have the money!” I said, “We could do it right here!” He looked at me confused, so I told him, “Well, we have swords, we have a boat and skis, and we have jumping Asian carp. Put them together, and you have what we like to call, Midwest Sword fishing.”
Q. You’re like, actual ninjas or something, right?
A. No, we’re just two outdoorsmen who know how to have fun. We’ve single handedly merged water sports, martial arts, fishing and hunting all into one. We’ve even made a game out it. It’s one thing to go out and water ski, but quite another to do so with weapons and compete to see who kills the most fish. There is a lot on one-up-man-ship going on when we unveil weapons to each other or one of us gets a picture text of a weapon in development.
Q. What training does it take, exactly, to swing samurai swords and wolverine claws at fish?
A. Growing up together, we have always done athletics. Zac did gymnastics and Nate played football. We continue to keep ourselves in tip top shape. For carp hunting, forearm exercises and coordination are key because you can only hold on to the tow rope with one hand. This season we will be able to wield some new weapons with both hands.
Q. Where exactly is this happening?
A. On the IL River near Peoria and nearby lakes that are infested with these invading fish. It’s a real problem here in Illinois. It’s not only the epicenter of where these fish have really taken ground and proliferated as an invasive species, but it is also the spot where we see a “last stand” effort critical. The Great Lakes are the next great body of water that they intend on infiltrating next. The consequences of that invasion would be disastrous.
Q. What exactly are you trying to accomplish?
A. Ultimately, our goal is to raise awareness about the devastating effects Asian carp are wreaking on our waterways. If they get into Lake Michigan, they could potentially crash the 7 billion dollar sport and commercial fishing industry. I’ve been boating and fishing on the IL River for a long time now, and things have gotten to a point in certain areas where you can’t even safely participate in water sports. These fish are reproducing at an astronomical rate. They’re filter feeders. Asian carp can consume up to 40%-60% of their body weight a day in plankton, thus crowding out our native fish. They can grow up to be 40+ pounds, so getting hit in the head traveling 30+ mph by something this size could potentially kill you. Try throwing a 40lb. bean bag at a car traveling 30mph and see what happens. Lol! With that said, we love water sports and aren’t about to let some invasive species dictate where, when, and how we boat. These fish are a huge problem and even though our new sport may be fun, I would take it all back to have the river free of these fish.
A. We have to hit the shallow water near the river bank, so we track the boat in the center and swing out wide to accomplish the slaughter fest we’re after. A lot has to do with the sound of the boat in the water and we’re hoping that that beckons more of them to jump unknowingly into our weapons and our lethal suit.
Q. What types of weapons? Names, brands, sizes, etc.?
A. These pups are robust suckers. You’ve seen our wolverine claw, spiked helmet, shin guards, samurai sword and Shredder Suit, The helmet and shredder suit, however, were created from our own imagination and skill. That’s really where our passion lies, in creating our own justice instruments. This season, you’ll see some new weapons custom made by Zac and Nate, such as, the “Treble Trouble” and the “Barbed Batterer”. We really want to bring back some of the classic sports into the arena with a twist. Think tennis and golf. Beyond that, I want you to think about the medieval folk. Even though they were plagued with the plague, monarchy, and how to wipe their butts with straw, they still were capable of devising lethal weapons. These “instruments” have really inspired us…
Q. So why do the fish jump?
A. This is still somewhat of a mystery, but we do know that vibration and water turbulence spooks them, causing them to jump. The bottom line is that these numbskulls just don’t get it. They aren’t from around here. They jump to get away from the sound of the motor and meet their fate on our spikes.
Can't get enough of these guys? Want to learn more? Just want to hang out with them? You can book a carp bowfishing trip with them here.