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|File:Gene Morris, Undated.jpg|
Eugene C Morris|
Memphis, TN, US
Template:Death date and age|
Elberta, Alabama, U.S.
|Notable credit(s)||The World's Greatest Living Spear Hunter|
Colonel Gene Morris (1933-2011) was Colonel in the US Air Force and well-known for hunting with a spear. He self-described himself as the "Greatest Living Spear Hunter in the World," after having killed almost 600 big game animals with a spear.
Morris was born in Memphis, Tennessee on September 19, 1933. In 1957 he became an officer in the US Air Force. He served in the Vietnam war and retired in 1979 as a full colonel. He spent much of his military career in Hilo, Hawaii. He eventually settled in Josephine, Alabama after marrying his second wife, Heather Jean.
Morris was introduced to hunting at age 14. He started out hunting with a shotgun. Upon becoming bored with hunting this way, he switched to a bow and arrow. On his 40th birthday in 1973, Morris first tried spear hunting. His first kill with a spear was a deer. Morris' total number of animals killed with a spear at the time of his death stood at 592. He hunted in Argentina, Africa, Florida, Texas, and Hawaii.
When he moved to Alabama in 1992, Morris found that spear hunting was against the law. He began lobbying the Conversation Advisory Board to legalize spear hunting, arguing it was a more humane way to hunt. When one of the board members asked Morris how far he thought he could throw a spear, standing 20 feet away from her, he replied, "I could hit you from here."
In 1995, spear hunting was legalized in Alabama, with spear hunting season running concurrently with bow hunting season. Officials said that they believed Morris was the only person to hunt with a spear in the state of Alabama.
In in interview in 2007, Morris joked about his "Greatest Living Spear Hunter in the World," nickname, saying "if you’re the only one who does something, you’re the world’s greatest." His other nickname was "Spear Chunker", which was written on many of his hats and shirts that he wore while hunting.
Morris was also passionate about teaching others about spear hunting. In 2006, he opened The Spear Hunting Museum in Summerdale, Alabama. The museum showcased many of Morris' trophies and tried to educate visitors about spear hunting.
The museum, located on Highway 59 in Summerdale, was well known for the murals painted on the outside, depicting several of Morris' kills, as well as a portrait of Morris, with spear aloft, bearing the title, "The World's Greatest Living Spear Hunter." (Upon his death, Morris' will dictated that the title be changed to "The Greatest Spear Hunter In Recorded History."
The museum exhibits feature some of the animals that Morris had killed, including American Bison, an African Lioness, Alligator, and Deer. The museum also has on display several spears from Morris' collection including two bent ones from different hunting adventures, and "Black Death," a spear that Morris himself designed.
"This museum has become my total life and obsession," wrote Morris in his will. "The museum contains all my spear hunting animal trophies, spears, artifacts and other spear hunting mementos that were acquired in my world-wide travels while spear hunting." Morris' will stipulated that, upon his death, his personal assets would be liquidated and the remaining money would go towards keeping the museum open in "perpetuity." Larry Wilson, a friend of Morris', was named executor of his estate.
Morris wrote two books about spear hunting. "Hunting with Spears," which was published in 2003, and "The Greatest Living Spear Hunter in the World," which was published in 2010. Morris was also working on a third book about spear hunting when he died, as well as a joke book. Both of these titles remain unpublished.
Morris died on November 28, 2011, while spear hunting in Elberta, Alabama. He was found in a hunting blind, with a spear still in his hand. He was 78 years old.
A short documentary film about Morris titled, "Spear Hunter" is currently in post-production. It is being directed by Adam Roffman and Luke Poling. It is scheduled for release sometime in late 2014, early 2015.
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