Duck Dynasty, Donald Trump And Real Estate

If you had to pick the most-interesting show on television it likely would not involve controversy, conflict or Kardashians. Instead, it’s A&E’s Duck Dynasty, a show which is as much about real estate as duck calls.

The story is that Phil Robertson was one of seven children who grew up in rural Louisiana. His father paid $20 a month — the “kinfolk price” — to rent a toilet-free log cabin and 20 acres. The family farmed, hunted and fished to make ends meet and ultimately Robertson went to college and became a quarterback at Louisiana Tech, starting in front of Terry Bradshaw, someone who went on to have one of the most-legendary careers in professional football.

Robertson turned down an opportunity to play football professionally because it would interfere with duck season and, as he explains in his book, Happy, Happy, Happy, “I couldn’t make much sense out of making a living from work that entailed large, violent men chasing me around — men who are paid for one reason: to run me down and stomp me into the dirt.”

Log Homes

While to some modern eyes log cabins and squirrel hunting may seem primitive and distant, it wasn’t so long ago that much of the population used outhouses. Census figures show that in 1940 nearly half of all US homes lacked indoor plumbing according to the New York Times.

Robertson went on to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in education and taught after college. But then drinking caught up with him. He threw Kay, his wife, and their three sons at that point, out of the house. Three months later he begged to take her back, found religion, stopped drinking and set in motion a plan to survive as a hunter and commercial fisherman.

Central to his plan was that he and Kay owned land on the Ouachita River near Cyprus Creek in West Monroe, LA. The property was bought with a down payment from his father, a union worker, and consists of four lots that total a little more than six acres. On the property are two homes, one of which is on a floodplain.

While Robertson survived as a hunter and fisherman, he also invented a new and better duck call. As with many successful businesses, what started at a dining room table evolved into an enterprise which in time had gross revenues of more than $1 million annually.

An interest in the business was then bought by his third son, Willie, and Willie’s wife, Korie. From that point forward the business grew to the point where today it occupies a 30,000 sq. ft. facility and Willie is the CEO.

“I call him Donald Trump II,” Phil explains, “because he’s a dealmaker….”

Frequently on the show one sees hunting on the “Robertson land,” the various rural properties acquired by Phil and Kay, as well as their house and the homes of Willie and another son, Jase. The sons’ homes are substantial, beautiful houses, a long way from the modest property above the Ouachita. But Phil teases because such homes are in a subdivision, a place for yuppies.

It’s easy to imagine that Duck Dynasty could devolve into little more than jokes about self-described “rednecks.” A local newsman, Griffin Scott, explains that at first “I have to confess, when I heard about Duck Dynasty I cringed at the thought of northeast Louisiana on reality TV.

“‘Hollywood is gonna make us look like a bunch of inbred, racist idiots,'” Scott told his wife.

A Hollywood Surprise

But A&E didn’t do that. Instead it has produced a show with functioning families, a show which is perhaps the funniest program on TV in a very long time. Duck Dynasty is populated with intelligent, educated people, and while I disagree with the politics Phil offers in his book, there is an essential decency which comes through.

The assorted Robertson men as well as their steadfast employees and friends largely have long hair, long beards and camouflage pants. They work at the family business, but just about any event is a cue to stop and do something else. And unlike other businesses, when they walk off the job no one is fired, at least for long.

For the family patriarch it’s not about getting more stuff. As Phil says in his book:

“Even before our success came along, we had air conditioning, color TV, hot water and a bathtub. We had everything we needed. When I was a boy we didn’t even have bathtubs or commodes.”

Duck Dynasty is really about our evolving culture, perspective and a time when work was part of what we do and not the sum of our biography. Like American Chopper, the program is compelling but with a far-more positive spin on family dynamics. It makes for interesting TV.

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1 Comment on "Duck Dynasty, Donald Trump And Real Estate"

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  1. Becky says:

    Not a bad take on Duck Dynasty. I’m a local who’s not really a fan, but you make it sound better than what many of us feared people would think.

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