Lakeland — LAKELAND — As a little boy, Jase Robertson would awaken some mornings and know that there would be no school that day. At least not for him.
If he saw a cold front coming in, he’d trade the classroom for a duck blind.
“I’d use my reserve days at school and go duck hunting,” Jase Robertson says. “Dad said if that’s the worse thing I ever did in school, I’d be OK.”
Of course, for young Jase Robertson, duck hunting became the classroom for his future career, a family business started by his father, Phil Robertson.
The Roberstons run Duck Commander, the popular duck-call business that has spawned DVDs, speaking tours, and a popular reality show starring the family.
This Saturday, Jase Robertson is scheduled to participate in Lakeland’s Deer Fest and will speak Sunday morning at Southside Baptist Church in Lanier County.
At church, he will testify to living a Christian life. At Deer Fest, he will talk about duck hunting and the rise of Duck Commander.
In 1972, Phil Robertson decided he wanted to build a duck call that actually sounded like a duck. Older hunters may recall that a duck call didn’t always sound like a duck.
Robertson and Duck Commander changed that.
Duck Commander became the premier name in duck calls. Jase has been involved in the family business since his childhood in Louisiana. He didn’t get paid then. He helped his father because that was expected of him.
Turning 18, he moved away for a few years until Phil called Jase, asking his son to come home and help with the growing Duck Commander business.
Though he still travels, speaks, hunts and participates in the TV show, Phil Robertson has retired from the business. Jase makes the duck calls. His brother, Willie, is the Duck Commander CEO. Younger brother Jep works the camera and edits footage for DVDs and the show. Phil’s brother, Si, is a regular on the show.
Though Duck Commander has filmed videos and DVDs since the late 1980s, a proposal to do a reality show came as a shock.
“We thought we don’t have what it takes for a reality show,” Jase says in a phone interview with The Valdosta Daily Times Wednesday. “Nobody’s going to want to watch what we do. We talk straight, love the Lord, and duck hunt. How’s that going to be a TV show?”
Most reality shows thrive on negative attitudes and confrontation, Jase says, which are all in short supply in the Duck Commander camp.
“As Dad says, we’re a redneck reality show that happens to be real.”
Many viewers can’t help but notice the Robertsons are a tough-looking crowd, with long hair, beards, and camo paint marking their faces.
“Well, you know, never judge a book by its cover,” Jase says. “Whenever anyone says, I’m growing a beard, I tell them, no, it’s doing that all on its own.”
Beards are also conducive to duck hunting.
Duck hunting’s best as a cold-weather sport, or during cool times of day, so the beard provides warmth. Beards also serve as natural camouflage for duck hunting. Plus, the Robertsons like having beards.
“That’s just the way we roll,” Jase says.
Jase Robertson and wife Missy will roll into Lakeland Saturday.
Duck Commander’s Jase Robertson participates in the Sixth Annual Deer Fest.
When: Site opens 1 p.m.; wild game supper line starts 5 p.m.; giveaway drawings, 7 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Jim and Mary Threatte Arts & Civic Center, just off Valdosta Highway (209 S. Highway 221), Lakeland.
Tickets: $2 ticket for shotgun and rifle giveaways; $7 ticket for Wild Game Supper.
Advanced tickets, more information available at Farmers & Merchants Bank locations in Lakeland, Nashville, Homerville and Valdosta. Tickets may also be purchased on the day of the event at the Deer Fest location.
More information: Call (229) 482-8100.
ALSO: Jase Robertson will speak during the 10:30 a.m. Sunday worship service of Southside Baptist Church, Lanier County.