A&E hunts for a hit with “Duck Dynasty”

Willie Robertson on A&E's "Duck Dynasty"

Willie Robertson presides as CEO over his family's business in the new A&E reality series "Duck Dynasty," premiering at 10pm March 21.

Willie Robertson, an avid outdoorsman and family man, gets to spend his days hunting and fishing in the Louisiana wilderness while working with his large, eclectic family. Sounds like the dream life, right?

Well, it is, but it’s one Willie says he never really pictured himself pursuing as he was growing up. And now that he’s in it, even the dream life has its ups and downs, all of which will be laid out in often hilarious detail in A&E’s new reality series Duck Dynasty, premiering March 21. It follows Willie, his brother Jase, their parents Phil and Kay, and their uncle Si as they try to retain their close ties while running a profitable business.

The Robertsons are not strangers to being on camera, having had their own series on the Outdoor Channel, as well as starring in several hunting-related DVDs. But Duck Dynasty takes a more personal approach, opening up the family’s relationships to the viewing public. It’s a prospect Willie says at first gave him concerns over how the family would be portrayed, but as always, he figured they would be fine just as long as they remained true to themselves.

“If you are who you are, they can only portray you one way,” Willie says. “We do what we do. You know how it is, if there’s a camera in your face, obviously you know it’s there, so you know it’s not quite reality, I guess. But I think it’s come across really good. I’m just proud of the family, how successful we’ve been. Not just financially, just how good we’ve been as a family and we always work together. We came from nothing, it was just a hope and a dream.”

With their long hair, shaggy beards and proudly backwoods ways, the Robertsons are among the more unlikely millionaires you’ll ever encounter. They preside over the Duck Commander duck call empire started by family patriarch Phil back in the early 1970s. The double-reeded duck call he developed is widely regarded as one of the most trusted in the business, and the family owns and operates the Duck Commander line of products that also includes hunting apparel, cooking products, DVDs, CDs and novelty items all bearing their brand.

Willie — along with his wife, Korie — heads up the business side of things these days, which sometimes puts him at odds with other members of his family who would rather focus on the, um, product development portion. Like Jase, who lives by maxims such as, “If you’re too busy to go hunting, then you’re too busy.” In the premiere episode, Jase nearly sends Willie into a conniption with his impromptu idea to flood the company’s loading dock and turn it into a pond for researching ducks.

Despite their many disagreements, the Robertsons do find ways to get the job done and still remain on speaking terms. In fact, every episode ends with the big family eating dinner together and saying a prayer.

“There’s probably no shortage of egos in this family, but I think our faith keeps us in line,” he says. “We’re all Christians. That keeps our heads clear. I think what will separate us from the other shows that I’ve seen is, man, you’ve got some really strong characters just from who we are, top to bottom. Heck, when I watch it I’m fascinated by some of the stuff my dad says, and my uncle and my brother. Everybody’s really confident and really secure and just really strong characters and strong men, which is another thing we really wanted to show.”

Viewers will also probably find themselves surprised by the backgrounds of some of the family members. Despite their rough appearances, for instance, Phil and Willie both have college degrees, with Phil even having a master’s in English. Willie’s course study took him on a different path for a while. Having grown up in the business, helping with more menial tasks like staining barrels and folding boxes, he didn’t think he’d end up taking over someday. But his heart eventually led him back home.

Contrary to many reality shows, which tend to break families and friends apart, Willie says working on Duck Dynasty has actually made his family closer.

“We were traveling so much that we were all kind of on different schedules, and what the show’s done is actually pull us together,” he says. “We spend so much time together now. It’s been really nice just being able to hang out. … We thought we were pretty dang close before, but you learn more about each other every day and we do this show as a project together. Some days you get sick of it and wish there wasn’t a camera around you because you don’t feel it, and that’s when [another family member] steps up. It’s funny, somebody else will pick it up and they’ll be on that day, and we just encourage each other every day.”

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 Photo: © 2012 A&E Networks Credit: Zach Dilgard

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7 Responses to A&E hunts for a hit with “Duck Dynasty”

  1. Lisa Gayle Herr M.Ed. says:

    Howdy Fellas! I am a Business, Marketing, and Finance teacher at Kingwood High School. I am also a HUGE fan of Duck Dynasty. I have not hunted ducks but have a heck of a goose hunting story. Let me just say I am lucky to have two feet and I now know why I was told to do two important things: gun on safety- finger off the trigger! Anyway, I recently wrote a project assignment for my class where they could analyze the business in terms of the P’s of Marketing. As class kickers I would play short video clips to engage students in learning more. One of our favorite video’s was the trip to the Conan show. The students in my class did a great job and provided me feedback that it was awesome learning about business and marketing by researching Duck Commander, Inc. On a side note, my father is an alum of Louisiana Tech University where he played basketball around the same time as Phil. Duck Commander, Inc. makes for a great case study and inspiration for up and coming entrepreneurial types. Kingwood Texas is referred to as the livable forest. If you ever find yourself in our neck of the woods stop by Kingwood High School and we will share our projects with you and you could share your secrets to success. I learned that one girl in my class mother went to high school with you and may have even gone on a date? I think the members of your family are all genius. If you are ever in the marketing for a Marketing person I am your gal!
    Sincerely,
    Lisa Gayle

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  4. michael fitch says:

    Me and my daughter love the show and appreciate the family’s values that y’all stand for. We build boathouses on lake fork in east Texas and noticed that Phil had one and would be happy to work on his for free if he ever needs repairs. We would love to hang out with the guys for the day.
    We’ve recorded every episode since the show started our favorite show by far. Keep up the good work guys
    Thanks Michael fitch

  5. Henry Acosta says:

    We just wanted to share that we Love this show. As Christians, my wife & I are proud of the convictions the characters of the show portray & their sense of humor is proof that believers can have good old fashion fun. To God be the glory…keep skinning the cats!

  6. Becka & Adam Jones says:

    Hi Duck Dynasty,

    I just wanted to let you that your show is awesome. My husband and I love to watch every episode. I think the best part of show is when everyone sits down at the dinner table and says a prayer, and then eats together. My husband is a big hunter, and has friends that look just like Jace,they have big long beards and wears a beanie lol.My husband and I would love to meet the crew! His birthday is October 23 and I think that would be a great birthday present to meet the cast of Duck Dynasty.

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