Recently, Ryan and Jake interviewed Greg Oxford from Bowfishing TV. Read the transcript to find out how he got into bowfishing and what his favorite species is to target. Plus, he shares some of his funniest bowfishing moments.
Ryan: Hey, man. Thanks so much for your time today. Let’s jump right into it - tell me how long you’ve been bow fishing.
Greg: Oh, my goodness. I have been bowfishing since I was 15 or 16 years old, and I’m almost 50 so it’s been many years. Now, I did take a break in there for a long time. But I’ve really got hard back into it within the last 10 years or so.
Ryan: How did you get into bowfishing?
Greg: When we were teenagers, it was something to fill the day during the times when school was out. We weren’t born in techy-age of Nintendo and all that kind of stuff, so we had to figure out ways to entertain ourselves. And, luckily, my best friend’s dad was the foreman of a lot of the coal pits, or rather the coal companies around here. They leased properties all over the county, so we had an endless supply of land to hunt. We grew up bow hunting and what not. During the off-season, summertime, you weren’t hunting or anything but we figured out, “Hey, we can shoot fish!” We didn’t have a boat or anything like that, so we shot fish from the bank and did a lot of shallow flat wading and whatnot. I’ve left plenty of shoes in Oologah Lake.
Ryan: Did you have reels then? Or did you shoot and go grab them?
Greg: We actually just shot and went and grabbed ‘em.
Ryan (laughing): So you had to chase them, too?
Greg: We did some chasing. It was a very primitive experience to say the least. But I think when you’re young and dumb, that’s part of the excitement.
Jake: What got you back into the sport? You said you got out of it for a while, so why did you decide to get back into it?
Greg: Well, honestly, my brother-in-law is probably what really drove me into it. That and the fact that my kids finally grew up and moved out of the house so I had all this free time on my hands… it’s something to get out and do. But my brother-in-law, TJ, he’s the guy that runs the Grand River Monster Boat Fishing Tournament here in Oklahoma. He was really was the one who kinda pushed me back into doing it. I had never bow fished under lights until TJ got me to go. And it was convenient; he had the know-how and I had the money.
Ryan: That’s a good combination! What’s your favorite fish to shoot?
Greg: My favorite is grass carp… because it’s elusive, it’s not something I can go out and see every single day. So when you get an opportunity and see a grass carp, it’s like, “Heck yeah! I want it.”
Otherwise, I prefer shooting buffalo over about anything. A lot of guys like gar, and they’re fun and they’re big. But if they’re smaller gar, they’re just more of a pain in the neck than anything.
Ryan: Is that why you like buffalo? Because they’re so big?
Greg: Yeah, they get a little bigger, but more than anything you don’t have to fight with gar teeth and their scales. They don’t cut you all to pieces.
Jake: When you go out – whether you’re just by yourself or with a group of people – is there anything on your mind about how you target the fish? Is there any part of the conversation that gets into conservation or the species that you try to target the most because it is invasive and does the most harm to other sport fishing?
Greg: Honestly, yeah, but the buffalo carp more than anything because they reproduce so, so quickly. We’ve seen proof of that in some of our tournaments. We’re taking literally tons of fish out of the lake on a single night, and you can go back out the very next night and do it all over again. And I personally love to bass fish. So every time I shoot one of those suckers, I’m thinking to myself, “There’s another bass that might survive.” The conservation end of it is definitely always on my mind.
Ryan: That’s incredible how you can take so many carp out and it doesn’t leave a dent.
Greg: The last couple of years, we did the GRN tournament. I don’t know how big it was but a big pull-behind trailer, like 8 foot by 10 foot with 5 foot side walls, literally filled that thing to the point where we couldn’t put any more fish in it. And we filled the bed of two pickups. It’s just crazy.
Jake: Who drew the short straw for those pickups?
Greg: We’re lucky because in the bigger tournaments, we find somebody who’ll take them. Typically, we’ve been able to the carp to a hog farm. So it’s good for them and good for us.
Ryan: So when you go out by yourself on a regular night, do you take them to the hog farm, too?
Greg: It depends on what state I’m in. I go to Missouri quite a bit, and I don’t take my boat [on those trips]. I go with friends. They take them and bury them or use them for mulch. In Oklahoma, we can take the fish and put them back in the water but we have to gut them… They become food for catfish and other species.
Ryan: I think I’ve heard of that. It’s called slit and sink, right?
Greg: Yeah. And slitting them is great, but if you pull the air bladder out, that’s a sure-fire way to make sure they go down.
Jake: What do you prefer on a boat? 24V with low voltage, high amperage lights or a generator?
Greg: I honestly prefer a generator. I use a Champion inverter and it’s quiet. We can sit up on the deck and just have a normal conversation. Obviously, I’m filming all the time, and although we have a wireless mic between the two or three of us, not everyone is wearing one, [and] we can pick up what everyone says just fine.
Jake: Why do you prefer a generator?
Greg: I’ve never had the other system so I don’t know what kinds of pains come along with it. Now, I’ve been on boats that have that, and it’s really nice to be able to turn everything completely off and sneak into the back of a cut. But, it also seems like it only last so long and then you have kick the generators back on to charge everything. To me, I don’t want to get off that deck once I’m up there, so I prefer to kick the generators on, turn on the lights, and go.
Jake: What color lights do you prefer?
Greg: Warm white. That’s my preference based on the waters that I fish. Everything in Oklahoma is dirty, so they’re all going to be stained lights. I think they call it halo sometimes. They’re a warmer color but they penetrate the water better. You don’t get as much reflection and bounce back off the water.
As for halogen lights, they’re cheap and bright, and they penetrate dirty water, but you’re going to have to have a lot of power to run them… It will drive you nuts being on the water with that big [of a] generator. And, not to mention, if you’re out in some of the areas that I’m in, full of snakes, the halogen lights will drive every snake in the lake to you because of the heat.
Ryan: What’s the most useful tool on your boat?
Jake: Like the thing you don’t leave home without.
Greg: If you’re talking about something that’s attached to the boat, that’d be the trolling motor. I like a tiller-style trolling motor. I’ll always say the bigger the better. You don’t need to use all that power, but it’s nice to have.
Ryan: What is your shining bowfishing moment? You can brag a little on this one.
Greg (laughing a bit): I’ll just tell you what people [say] about me. It’s a bit embarrassing. I have this uncanny ability to shoot something that’s moving, but I can sit there and take a shot a fish sitting still just 10 feet away from me and miss all day long. But if that sucker takes off at 90 miles an hour, I can shoot it.
Greg: With me, it’s a brain thing. I’m letting my brain get in front of me. At that point, you allow yourself to actually aim at the fish, which in my opinion is just the wrong thing to do. The less I think with a bow in my hand the better off I am.
Ryan: Yeah, instincts are better than aiming in bowfishing in my experience. What’s your funniest bowfishing moment?
Greg (laughing): I got a couple of those.
Ryan: I’ll take a couple!
Greg: So for starters, my brother-in-law, TJ, who I was telling you about, you can’t hardly go out fishing with this kid that he ain’t in the water. Like off the boat in the water. For one reason or another. I’ve literally seen him hit a stump, and he goes flying off the boat and into the water. Probably one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen on the lake… we saw a big ol’ snapping turtle. I wasn’t sure exactly what it was [at first], but it was big and round and making a little commotion. So TJ’s just curious. He’s got to figure out what it is. He gets out of the boat, and grabs an arrow, and goes poking at the thing. And it takes off running right at his feet.
Greg: I’ve got the video. It’s great.
Ryan: I’m guessing his reaction was priceless.
Greg: Oh yeah. He screamed like a little girl.
Greg: Another time, one of my fishing partners was on his very first bowfishing tournament. There were four of us on the boat that night. I had just shot a fish, nothing to brag about, and the other two guys had either shot fish or shot at fish, besides Marshall. I don’t remember exactly but the thing I do remember was that we had three arrows in the water. And here’s Marshall, with an arrow nocked up on the boat, and he’s the only one who can shoot, and I see the biggest gar I’ve ever seen in my life. It was huge. Just cruising, not running, just gently cruising through. I point the thing out to Marshall, and I’m like, “Oh my God, Marshall. You’re the only one who can shoot!” So he takes aim and misses. We’re in a tournament, and it’s bad. We’re his buddies so we give him all kinds of grief over it. So the very next fish that he shoots – I’m not kidding you – it’s about 12 inches long, no bigger than a cigar. He just nails the thing. We’ve been giving him crap over that for a couple years.
Ryan: I’m guessing that first gar was money, too?
Greg: Oh yeah, we would have won it. I think we took second place in that tournament.
Jake: So in that respect though, when you’re out there shooting, clearly it’s harder to hit something smaller, but you know how you say your best fish are the biggest – they’re easier to shoot. I think bow fishing’s a little backwards that way. If you hit a two-inch goldfish, you’re like Robin Hood.
Greg: That’s how Marshall tries to spin it, but he can’t get away with it.
Ryan: Tell me about Bowfishing TV. What do you enjoy most about the show?
Greg: I actually host three nationally televised shows, but what I like most about it are the opportunities to get out to different places and meet different people. It’s really the experiences I’ve had a chance to participate in. Without the shows, I just wouldn’t have the opportunity.
Jake: Bowfishing is growing. What do you think is helping the sport gain steam?
Greg: From my perspective, I grew up bowhunting, but to be honest I don’t anymore. And I loved it, but after a while it gets boring. It’s the same old thing. You’re spending tons of money for the opportunity to pull that string back one time… With bowfishing, it’s completely different. You can do it in the daytime or night. You’re not really restricted by time. And you can actually buy your equipment and get a lot of use out it. You can literally wear yourself out bowfishing.
Greg: Once you [try bowfishing], I’ve never heard anyone say, “It was okay.” It’s one extreme or the other. You either loved it and you’re hooked. “I’m buying a bow and a boat!” Or, it was stinky and nasty and bloody and gross. “I’m never doing that again.” Most of the time, I hear, “That was the coolest thing ever.”
Jake: Is there one state where you’d go back to bowfish, above all the rest?
Greg: Texas is pretty cool. I like that you can see 20 foot deep. You know, you may not be able to shoot 20 feet deep but the water clarity on some of those lakes is just phenomenal. Of course, the same goes for Missouri. Some of their lakes are phenomenal, too.
Ryan: Do you ever get nervous shooting in front of the camera?
Greg: The first couple times you’re kind of nervous. You don’t know what to say, but after a while, you get to the point where you’re just saying something. And if it sounds stupid, well the cameraman’s also the editor.
Jake: We don’t want to keep you too much longer, but we want to wrap this up with a speed round of questions about your gear. We’re trying to educate people who are new to the sport. Ryan has some questions about gear preferences.
Ryan: Bottle or spin cast?
Greg: Spin cast.
Ryan: Lever, compound, or recurve?
Ryan: Dacron or spectra?
Jake: Old equipment – like tried and true – or new?
Greg: Most all my equipment is new.
Jake: Day fishing or night fishing?
Greg: Depends on the lake.
Ryan: What’s the most underrated piece of bowfishing gear?
Greg: Your point. Your arrows. Arrow tips make all the difference in the world.
Jake: Does the type of boat really matter?
Greg: Does it matter, no. But does it make a huge difference, yes. Each has their own benefits and drawbacks. At my age, I’m considered a grandpa in the bowfishing world, out there with a bunch of 20-somethings. A bigger wider boat is more stable on the water.
Ryan: They’re shooting a movie about bowfishing and you’re the main character. Who plays you in the movie?
Greg: Oh man, I wouldn’t have a clue. Good question. Iron man, maybe? Robert Downey Jr.
Ryan: What advice do you have for someone who wants to get into bowfishing?
Greg: Be aware of your surroundings and definitely wear your life jacket. The best advice I’ll give is go back and fish the next day. There’s not a fish on the water that’s worth tearing up your boat, tearing up your equipment, or risking your life.
Many thanks to Greg for taking the time to have this conversation with the Loxley team! Be sure to check out Bowfishing TV on the Pursuit Channel.
Editor’s note: Some interview responses haves been edited for clarity.