Davis, NC Hunting

Tributes and Memories

Ammie L. Willis #64W (April 4, 1892-September 12, 1962)

Born at Davis on April 4, 1892, he took over the job as bread winner for his family at age 13 when his father died. He worked in a fertilizer plant, hauled shells to Hyde county in a sailboat, helped to build the road from Smyrna to Davis, and worked on fish boats for seven years, while providing for his mother, grandmother and five brothers and sisters. Eugene B. Pond of Beaufort who grew up next door to Mr. Ammie Willis has written the following tribute to the colorful guide who died last week.

“The passing of Ammie L. Willis of Davis, brings to an end, the life and career of one of eastern North Carolina’s most widely known and loved sportsmen guides. He began guiding in 1920 and continued this profession year-round until five weeks before his death at 69 from lung cancer.

Mr. Willis was well versed in woodcraft, duck shooting lore, and the art of surf casting, and had a phraseology all his own. He could sit in the duck blind, clubhouse, or alone the surf and entertain intellectuals, dapper baseball heroes, prize fighters, aviators, inventors or any who came along. Those who had this opportunity will not soon forget his interesting tales of the fast flights of waterfowl and the boundless shoals of game fish that were commonplace during his youth.

At peak times, Mr. Willis accommodated as many as forty duck shooters and as many as fifty sports fishermen a day at his camps on Core Banks. Such notables as Babe Ruth, Tom Zachary, Alvin Crowder and Bob Fitzsimmons fished and hunted with him and lodged in his home, sharing his food as sell as his wit and humor. Boris Sergavisky, World War Russian Ace, Arnold Dickerson, president of Sikorski Aircraft Corp., and prominent personages from Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and other northern states, as well as our own North Carolina governors and senators have been among the sportsmen who have called Mr. Ammie their friend. Once people went gunning or fishing with Ammie, they never forgot either his mastery of the shotgun and fishing gear, or his equal ability to hold his audience enthralled with his “yarn-spinning.” This was attested to by the many who traveled great distances to pay final tribute at the funeral to a man whose image is gradually passing from the American scene. Mr. Ammie has taken up his gunning rig for the last time. His season is closed, but let’s hope that he has gone where each flight of fowl will decoy to his stool and the drum fish strike on every cast.”

Source: Once Upon A Time: Stories of Davis, North Carolina by Mabel Murphy Piner, 1979; pp. 60-61.

Down East Community Tour
Core Sound Waterfowl Museum