I know next to nothing about duck hunting. I’ve never even watched an episode of Duck Dynasty. Here is what I do know: it’s better than deer hunting, because you don’t have to be as quiet, and you get to take your dog along. And long, bushy beards are en vogue.
A guy who does know a lot about duck hunting is local man Chris Flowers. Chris has grown up living the duck life, and has even started a family business born of the sport.
When I first started this gig, “Duckwacker Lanyards” was on my list of folks to contact. I had no idea what they were. But lately I’ve noticed vehicle stickers popping up proudly stating the driver is a Duckwacker Lanyard fan. I mean, these stickers are large. There’s no mistaking what they say. I did a bit of online research before meeting Chris, but still felt pretty clueless. Did I mention I have an extremely limited knowledge of duck hunting?
I decided to meet Chris at his home, otherwise known as the Duckwacker Lanyards facility. He looked exactly like you’d expect a duck hunter to look: beard, camouflage pants and all. His wife Stephanie (Stevie) was also there to meet me, a petite blonde in a pink Duckwacker tee.
The three of us settled into the workshop, and I began by asking what in the world a Duckwacker Lanyard is. Chris explained it like this: duck hunters take several “duck calls” with them on hunting trips. Different ducks are attracted to different sounds, apparently. All of the calls are attached to the lanyard, worn around the hunter’s neck.
Now, these duck calls are expensive, and can run up to $150 each. So imagine your disgust when you’re out on a hunt, and your crummy lanyard breaks, and you don’t notice. Or it falls into the slimy water. Well, you’re mad because you just lost a bunch of money. Chris got tired of that, so he began making his own lanyards as a hobby in 2010. At first he used the lanyards himself, or gave them to friends and family, including his and Stevie’s seven kids, who are all avid hunters. He started a facebook page. And before long, they had a business.
Keep in mind, Chris and Stevie have seven children. Stevie was the vice president of marketing for a collection agency, and Chris ran a metal die shop. Juggling full-time jobs, children ages 5 – 18, and running the fledgling Duckwacker Lanyards began to be more than the Flowers family could handle. With a prayer and a leap of faith, both Stevie and Chris left the security of their jobs in 2013 and devoted all they had to Duckwacker. Said Stevie, “We want our kids to be part of this someday. We want to use this as a lesson to show them that they can make their own way and set their own course.”
What makes Duckwacker Lanyards unique? Each piece is assembled by hand, and many orders are custom. You want a pink and purple lanyard with silver accents for your wife? No problem. Perhaps you’d love a red and black gun sling adorned with skulls? Sure thing. Each product arrives with a lifetime warranty, and thanks to the 66,000 fans on the Duckwacker Lanyards facebook page, word is spreading quickly. The Flowers’ products have been sent to 47 states and four countries so far. The best part is, because they started so small, customers have become friends with Chris and Stevie. Stevie is in charge of Business Development, and also handles the facebook page. The page receives an average of 10-14k messages per week. Think about that.
Y’all may have heard of a little show on A&E called Duck Dynasty. Thanks to the Robertson family’s colorful ways and overnight stardom, the sport of duck hunting has seen a rapid increase in popularity. Sensing that the new crop of hunters would need some help, Chris and Stevie also started a facebook page called Duckwacker Nation. That one is a group for anyone interested in duck hunting. The newbies can ask questions, and the experienced can help them out. The rule of the page? Everyone has to be nice. It’s just that simple.
Chris grew up hunting, fishing and camping. He’s a firm believer that it kept him out of trouble as a kid, and he’s keen on setting the same example for his children. The Flowers clan has been on about 25 camping trips so far this year, and are eagerly awaiting the arrival of duck season, which happens later in September. The kids are well aware that if they act up, they’ll miss out on a hunt. I was surprised to learn that even with Chris being so well-known in the arena of duck hunting, he refuses to accept invitations to hunt with anyone other than his children. Because, as he said, “If I go hunt with someone else, I’m taking away a day for my kids to hunt.” The Flowers family is pleased with their simple life in the country, revolving around faith, family and the outdoors. On a side note, they are so involved in duck hunting that they have a Chihuahua named Duck, whose favorite toy is a stuffed…you’ll never guess. Duck!
Duckwacker products are available locally at Bill’s Sporting Goods in Claremore. Those outside Oklahoma will be happy to learn that some potential big-box deals are in the works. In the meantime, orders can be placed online at duckwacker.com. Some of the products for sale are the lanyards, gun slings, dog collars, necklaces and bracelets. Additionally, an entire apparel line is available, including shirts, hoodies and hats.
Keep it local, Claremore. And happy hunting, y’all.
-MCM Staffer Ashley,
still pretty clueless about duck hunting