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This Christian is a real ‘quack’

Published 9:09am Tuesday, March 12, 2013

My new hero in life, Phil Robertson, is perhaps best known for sipping ice tea from a Mason jar, loving on Miss Kay, and relaxing in his camouflaged recliner.

I’m learning more and more about Robertson’s life, other than what’s portrayed on the A&E TV series – “Duck Dynasty.” That weekly show, which is a “must-see” in my house each Wednesday night, follows the antics of the Robertsons, who own and operate a family business near the Louisiana town of Monroe that manufactures duck calls by hand. While that show portrays the family and close friends as fun-loving rednecks that work together at a multi-million dollar business, I’ve learned there’s much more than meets the eye.

For starters, Phil Robertson (according to www.duckcommander.com) was born and raised near Shreveport. With seven children in his family, money was scarce and very early on, hunting became an important part of his life.

For Phil, he was much more than a good shot. As a high-school athlete, he was All-State in football, baseball, and track, leading him to be offered and accept a football scholarship to attend Louisiana Tech University in the mid-1960’s.

For those familiar with Louisiana Tech football – the legendary Terry Bradshaw is a “Bulldogs” alum, an NFL Hall of Fame member who won four Super Bowls with the Pittsburgh Steelers and is now a TV analyst on FOX Sports.

But it was Robertson who was the starting quarterback at Tech ahead of Bradshaw. Robertson was even offered an opportunity to play in the NFL, but rather chose to stick with hunting and fishing.

When asked why he would turn down a $60,000 contact (the going price back then for an NFL quarterback), Robertson is quoted as saying, “And miss duck season? And I have large, violent… men chasing me trying to stomp me in the dirt? Terry went for the bucks, and I chased after the ducks.”

Unlike most of today’s big-time athletes, Robertson actually obtained a college education, graduating with a BA in Physical Education and a Masters in Education. He actually spent a few years as a classroom teacher, but the call of the wild was too powerful.

Married to Kay (now for 43 years) and the father of four sons – Alan, Jase, Willie, and Jeptha (the latter three are also main characters on Duck Dynasty), Phil decided to transform his passion for hunting and fishing into a livelihood.

Saying that “no duck would even place in a duck calling contest,” Phil set about the task of developing a man-made call to attract those winged creatures to hunters. The Duck Commander was patented in 1973 and is now among the top choices among duck hunters all over the world.

While his company was growing, the Robertson clan dabbled in commercial fishing to help put money in the bank. They still operate “nets” on the Ouachita River, but use the catch to feed an ever-growing family. Meanwhile, the Duck Commander Company still manufactures the famous duck calls from the family home, which has now grown to include several warehouses and offices.

What intrigues me the most about Phil isn’t his ability to throw a football or his gift to develop a popular duck call,  but rather his Christian faith. He isn’t shy about making references to that during the TV show….so much to the point where one of my favorite scenes always comes at the end where the family gathers at the supper table where Phil always blesses the food.

He is known as the Billy Graham of duck hunting, traveling all over the nation to share his story and his faith in God. He is one of the seven elders at his West Monroe, LA church where his oldest son, Alan, serves as pastor.

While he may resemble a homeless man with his long, shaggy hair and beard, Phil Robertson is living proof that looks are deceiving. Despite gaining celebrity status, his faith in God and love of family has unlocked far more treasures than even he could imagine.

Cal Bryant is Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207.

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