The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has not announced when this falls duck hunting season begins. Typically, the season opens near the third week of October, so were still a good two months away before Daffy, Donald, the Aflac Insurance spokesduck and all of their kind will be blown out of the sky.
But hold fast, duck enthusiasts. Another season of note began this week, for we are in the midst of Duck Dynasty, Season 4, which debuted Wednesday on A&E.
In case youre unfamiliar with the 10 p.m. half-hour show – and according to last years ratings average, over eight million viewers are not – it is a reality show.
This is what is considered as reality these days: It is about the family of Phil and Miss Kay Robertson, which resides in West Monroe, La., where members operate a successful duck-call business. The Duck Commander – the brand name for the devices that cost anywhere between $9 and $179 – reportedly brought in $2.6 million last year.
Now, one would assume that much of the shows hijinks would come from the dozen grandchildren who occasionally appear. That has been the template of success in the past with TV families. But as they say in Cajun country, au contraire.
The shows main focus is on heavily-bearded Phil and his equally wooly sons. There are Willie (married to Korie), Jase (married to Missy) and Jep (married to Jessica). And there is the boys uncle, Si, whose wife, Christine, was not featured in the first three seasons but will be introduced this season. Until this season, Phils son, Alan, a clean-shaven preacher, and his wife, Christine, were not part of the show, either. They are now.
Then what has made Duck Dynasty a cable-TV mega-hit? In its hour-long season finale last year, when the clan vacationed in Hawaii, the episode drew 9.6 million viewers, according to a news release from the network.
My conclusion is these guys are geniuses, says Rob Harris, a local avid duck hunter who is not a fan of the show but has seen it. If you can make the kind of money theyre making off the stupidity of the American public, you are a genius.
With camera crews following the day-to-day exploits of Phil and his boys, and honing in on the backwoods wisdom of Si, who is rarely seen without his blue plastic Tupperware cup which his mother sent him while he was stationed in Vietnam, the show is an amalgamation of The Beverly Hillbillies, The Dukes of Hazzard and The Waltons. In a way, its Jethro and John Boy in camouflage.
While the TV show is relatively new, the duck call is not. Phil, the 65-year-old Robertson family patriarch, created the Duck Commander call in 1972, long after the former Louisiana Tech quarterback turned down an offer from the NFL Washington Redskins.
The modest family business blossomed into an empire when Willie, now the CEO, returned home with a business degree.
It is Willie who does most of the shows narration.
It was Willie who, in a recent visit to The View, admitted that the family isnt as dumb as it looks.
Nearby, Phil smiled at Barbara Walters beneath his gray beard and, in the universal sign language for money, rubbed his forefinger and thumb together
Theyre perceived as pretty red-necky, but once again, I think thats their business plan, Harris says. If they were just ordinary, and didnt have that fear the beard slogan or didnt look like ZZ Top with shotguns, they wouldnt be the phenomenon they are on television. More power to them.
Do I use their product? No. Am I offended by anything they do? Not really.
Whether its coincidence or not, its difficult to determine, but according to Indiana DNR figures, there were 14,485 waterfowl stamps (licenses) sold last year – up more than 660 from 2010.
I know different things in the past have been credited with influencing outdoor activities, says Phil Bloom, Indiana DNR director of communications. There was a pretty marked increase in fly fishing after the movie A River Runs Through It went out.
I dont know how long (Duck Dynasty) has been around. Ive seen portions of the show. I know its extremely popular.
At least its popular with Fort Wayne resident Marcus Cambridge.
You dont have to be a duck hunter to like the show, he says. Ive never been duck hunting in my life. I just think its different, its refreshing, and all the characters are likable. You cant say that with every show on TV.