Ten years ago, if you uttered the name Duck Commander in public no one would have blinked.
That is unless you happened to be in a room full of duck hunters then everyone knew about Phil Robertson and his family. Mention it now and it is a whole other story, as “Duck Commander” has become a household name through the hit television series.
I mentioned “six years ago” because I went on assignment to hunt with Phil Robertson, his son Jase and other members of the group for a write-up for the Port Arthur News and Orange Leader newspapers.
This is an excerpt from the original story to celebrate that we have always been at the forefront of outdoors coverage, especially when it comes to waterfowl hunting.
A legendary call maker, hunting video host and outspoken personality, Phil Robertson shoots straight and pulls no punches whether he is speaking on hunting techniques or political issues in the outdoors.
“The biggest mistake most duck hunters make is a lack of concealment,” Robertson said. He and his hunting team “The Duck Men” all wear face paint whether they are hunting in hardwood bottoms or in the prairies.
“We go to great efforts to conceal ourselves and having our white faces looking up at the ducks would send most birds away. I highly recommend hunters wear paint and brush out their blinds really good because it will make a difference,” he said.
A prime case in point is the challenge of concealing all of the cameras and cameramen that go into the production of their long-running series of videos with catchy titles such as “For a Few Ducks More” and their new television show “Duck Commander”.
“Doing the television show was a real challenge because we had to do certain things for the kind of show they wanted to produce. We had multiple cameras in the field and it made hunting much more challenging and problematic,” Robertson said.
The show is based in a reality type of format but Robertson said that is nothing new to him.
“We were doing reality TV before anyone ever heard of such a thing. The Duck Commander videos are about as real as you can get.”
Robertson’s lifetime of waterfowling experience and decades of traveling throughout the country to hunt has given him unique insight into problems facing waterfowlers. He believes one of the biggest problems is a lack of predator control.
“Pretty much everyone agrees we are losing about 85 percent of our ducks before they ever fly down due to predation in the nesting areas. Think about that for a second,” Robertson said.
“What we get to fly down is around 15 percent of the potential ducks. If you have a total flight of 100 million ducks, decreasing predation by only five percent would add 30 million ducks to that. If you could ever get predation down to around 70 percent you could pretty much double the fall flight every year.”
Robertson said he believes if hunters knew just how much of a role raccoons, foxes, mink and other predators played in duck production they might support paying more for federal duck stamps to support predator control.
“No one wants to wipe out the predators. God put them here to do their role, but he also put ducks here for us to hunt and to eat and we can balance things out if we put the effort into it,” he said.
“With fur being out of fashion because of the animal rights people and very little trapping, you have a situation where you have more predators on the breeding grounds than ever and we are seeing the results every fall,” he added.
Roberston, a dedicated follower of Jesus Chrsit, said even after all these years he remains amazed by what he sees in the field.
“The Good Lord created some awesome stuff and really outdid himself with the duck,” he said.
“We are blessed to live in a country where we have at least for a while the freedom to pursue happiness and in my case that happiness involves taking out a mallard at 30 yards.”