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The Secret Behind the Beards

P1010009webIn an industry made up of largely middle-class, middle-aged white men with a typically conservative bent and equally conservative, yet predictable look—khaki pants or jeans and flannel, Oxford or golf shirts depending on the weather or setting—Duck Commander Phil Robertson and his Duckmen really stand out. With long, wild hair and even more amazingly ZZ Top-like beards, these boys make the Geico cavemen look like clerks at a Birkenstock's Outlet. Put them behind the business end of a shotgun in their beloved Louisiana swamps and they bring duck hunting action to DVD like nobody else.

It's this look of untamed wildness that has made Duck Commander one of the most recognized brands in waterfowling. And if Willie Robertson has his way, it may soon be one of the most recognized looks in all of hunting.

Willie, a Duckman and son of the elder Robertson who founded Duck Commander in 1973, was in New York City last week with his lovely wife Korie to share the secret behind the beards and to tout his latest venture, Buck Commander.

Sitting in one of OL's cramped offices, I couldn't help but ask, "Okay, what's with the beards and how long does it take to grow them?"

He explained that Phil just started growing his beard out every year before hunting season and the rest of his boys—all except one are Duckmen—followed suit. The look got the company attention and made them stand out so it just stuck. And while the look is sure to draw attention wherever the men appear, it has also helped them grow the business from a simple call company to one that is now a leading seller of duck hunting DVDs, clothing, gear and even marinades and sauces.

"It's the best marketing gimmick anybody's ever thought of and it didn't cost..." Willie says with a big smile while holding his hand up to form a zero. He laughs as he mentions how they have lately started to notice how some of their smaller competitors at outdoor shows are growing their beards out, too.

And for those of you quick to stereotype long-haired bearded folks as backwoods wild men or renegade biker types, you'd be dead wrong. Phil, the elder Robertson, is a former teacher who attended Louisiana Tech on a football scholarship and played first string quarterback ahead of NFL Hall-of-Famer Terry Bradshaw. All of his boys are college educated—the only one not a Duckman is a preacher. And as for Willie, along with hunting, he loves to play golf and is a baseball fanatic. Hell, these guys are us, just with more hair, long beards and a lot cooler jobs.

Oh, and about the hair, while you might think this is part of their year-round look, you'd be wrong on that too. Just as bucks loose their antlers after each season, so do the Duckmen with their beards. As soon as the big industry trade shows such as SHOT Show end in early February, all of the crew gets shorn. Willie had to wait a little longer this year because he was scheduled to film a turkey hunt with Benelli's American Safari and needed to keep the branded look. Korie, as stylish and normal-looking as any suburban wife and mother (sitting next to Willie one can't help but summon the comparison to Beauty and the Beast), says she doesn't mind, she's used to it, though her and Willie both laugh as they explain how one of the Duckmen's wives is waiting with scissors each year when her husband returns from SHOT.

"She absolutely HATES the hair," Korie says.

As for Willie's latest venture, Buck Commander, he's bringing the Duck Commander concept along with his love for baseball to whitetail hunting. He's teamed up with such big-named hunting ball players as Chipper Jones, Adam LaRoche, Todd Helton, Ryan Langerhans, Brad Hawpe and others to create exciting whitetail hunting DVDs. In fact, two of those Buckmen, Helton and Hawpe will take the field tonight in Game 1 of the World Series. Of course, they'll face another deer hunting fanatic on the mound in Boston's Josh Beckett. It should be a good match-up of sportsmen on a different type of playing field and one that Willie Robertson hopes will one day translate into success for Buck Commander the way Moses-like beards have on the duck-side of the business.

With long beards a preoccupation among many turkey hunters, it would seem the bearded-personality concept is a natural fit for our sport. But somehow, Turkey Commander just doesn't have the same ring.


Clay Cooper

911 …---…
Last night, a friend told me that Wal-Mart had computers with Windows XP and would be nice to have two spares for the business my Wife and I own. So I swooped over to Wal-Mart and they were sold out. So I went over to the Sporting goods section and their stood a Father with his 9 year old son looking at rifles. The young man was wide eyed with excitement just as if it was Christmas morning and the father had a very sad look on his face and sick to his stomach. Youth season for deer is Nov 3-4, there was no youth rifles in stock and if there was the father couldn’t afford one. That was sad enough for me until the father turned to the wide eyed boy and said, I’ m sorry son, looked the other way and just wanted to fall to his knees and cry. What has happened to us in the Sportsmen community??? I remember my father going all out to make sure I had what I needed and the training to go with it. He had the resources at hand. He was a member of a Military Rod and Gun Club and Member of the Air Force Shooting Team that was able to get things at a reduced price and knew places like Jensens Gun Shop in Tucson Az to customize his 03-A3 for me. I’ve been really pissed off and just outright angry for years at the manufacturers. It wasn’t until last night realized just how much I am and why I am so pissed when that young man of 9 wanted so badly to go deer hunting. Last week I ordered a Ramline Cadet Youth stock for my brand new Remington 700 CDL 25-06 so my Grandson can go out on this coming youth hunt. I have the resources to do so thanks to my Father. When I was in the Air Force, I was blessed with a great Father and passed it on to volunteer to local Youth Hunter Safety and Boy Scout programs. At Dysart High School west of Phoenix Az 1995, I was asked to teach the ROTC rifle team. They had the worst equipment and they still finished second place in their Regional Championship and I was told by Army Sgt Charles Hydman in charge of the program they wouldn’t have done it without me. The truth of the matter is, it was a generational thing like saying it’s in the genetics. As my Father taught me as I passed onto them as you the Sportsman should do the same. Follow what I’m saying. What do we do? Every year there is less and less youths coming into the field to go hunting and fishing.

I hope and pray someone will follow suit!


Okay, Clay. I think I know what you're talking about.

Buddy Hinton  Sturmgewehr

Have you noticed the perverted discussion at Sturmgewehr.com moderated board? They thrive on perverted questions like "I cheated on my wife and had anal sex with her sister" and other disgusting subjects. Is that the kind of material a firearms based board should be allowing to be viewed by the whole world? I think the general mindset is a bunch of immature punks that act brave while they tap their computer keysets. They need to get a life. I don't go there anymore because it's a degenerating, filthy, mob that in a end of the world, SHTF scenario, I would not allow them on my property. I sure as hell wouldn't let them spew their filthy sewer mouths on my discussion boards. Sturmgewehr is another story. The mindset there is run by a bully that spouts his free boards while demanding to be paid...just as perverted as the Subguns mob.

Mark Bingham

John Melvin Davis, 54 AKA 'GUNKID'

Oklahoma Nov 3, 2006 (AP)— A man charged with mailing more than 200 threatening letters containing a white powder to celebrities, politicians and other high-profile figures has been arrested while in federal custody on unrelated charges. John Melvin Davis, 54, will remain in Federal custody while he awaits trial on charges of sending threats and hoaxes by mail.

He is accused of sending the letters to comedians Jon Stewart and David Letterman; Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California; Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer of New York; MSNBC host Keith Olbermann; and Viacom Inc. chairman Sumner Redstone.

Some letters included phrases like "Death to Demagogues" and pictures of victims of the 2004 Asian tsunami, authorities said.

The powder in the letters turned out to be harmless but it raised fears of another anthrax attack similar to the anthrax-laced letters that killed five people just weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The count of sending threats by mail is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Sending false information or hoaxes by mail carries up to five years in prison.
UPDATED : More Than 200 Letters Intercepted

The mailings apparently began in May. Twenty of the letters were intercepted by US Postal Service employees in Freehold Township and Westfield in May and June, according to a complaint filed by Special Agent David Goldkopf.

One reached a hospital in Freehold on June 7, prompting authorities to shut down its mail room and decontaminate workers as a precaution.

Three days later, a letter carrier intercepted 19 more of the letters from an outgoing mailbox in Brodie's multi-unit building, and from that point on, more than 200 were intercepted, all with the same format, Goldkopf said. The one to Bush, addressed to "President Bush, Abilene, TX," was found in the building's outgoing mailbox Sept. 21, according to the complaint.

Psychiatric Evaluation Pending

Interviewed by investigators last November, Davis admitted sending the letter to Bush as well as 11 others found during a search of his trailer home that also found colored pencils, blank envelopes, a hole punch and papers containing the same of some of his addressees, according to the complaint.

He also admitted sending letters to King Abdullah of Jordan and the Russian Interior Minister, Goldkopf said.

Cary Croft

I grew up with Jess(Willie)Robertson south of West Monroe, La and went to school with him at Woodlawn Jr High and West Monroe High School. He wore the preppy look with polos...a nice conservative look, as did I. Now look at him! It has been at least 15 years since I have seen him and it is great to see the company doing great!


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