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Before they had beards

Meet the Robertsons: the bearded, camo-clad family that have taken America by storm with their hilarious, real life antics. They might be redneck millionaires thanks to their duck call fortune, but it would be hard to find more humble beginnings than the early days of The Duck Commander.

Phil Robertson held a master’s degree from Lousiana Tech University and was a star quarterback for the college football team, but he gave it all up to return to fish the Ouachita River and work on duck calls. His wife, Miss Kay, supported him through the tough times and the whole family chipped in to turn the business into a success. In fact, in those early days, Phil even got his young sons involved, spending countless hours dipping homemade duck calls into a five-gallon bucket of polyurethane.

The family business was a success long before Duck Dynasty came into the picture, but when Willie took control of the company, he and his wife Korie managed to grow it into the huge enterprise it is today. Willie has the same Tom-Hanks-in-Castaway beard as the other menfolk, but by comparison with the rest of them, he’s a ‘suit man’. Willie’s the only Robertson with a business degree, and often plays the part of exasperated boss attempting to keep the hillbilly lunatics from taking over the asylum.

Willie’s brother Jase is his sardonic opposite, more at home in the swamp than an office. Jase can be feckless when pushed by Willie to take responsibility, but his acerbic wit is one of Duck Dynasty’s many highlights. He shares his father’s view of Willie as someone who’s spent ‘too many days in a subdivision,’ and sees himself, by contrast, as a man of action. ‘When you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s best to do it quickly,’ he reasons. His wife of twenty years, Missy, devotes much of her time to her passion for music, singing and writing as well as volunteering as a music teacher.

The biggest character of all though is Uncle Si, a Vietnam Veteran who pops out oddball philosophies all day long. In fact, his sayings have become legendary like ‘B.L.T.: beaver, lettuce and tomato’ and ‘I’m down like a rodeo clown.’ Si’s job in the workshop is to fashion the reeds that are inserted in every patented duck call. It’s a pretty easy job, but mindlessly boring, so it’s no wonder he can never seem to stay on task: “Some people say I’m a dreamer, others say ‘if you fall asleep at work again we’re going to have to let you go.’”

Jep, as the youngest Robertson son, is the cameraman and editor for Duck Commander, utilising years of experience to capture footage for the company’s ‘Duckmen’ DVD series. Jep is married to Jessica and together they have four children. In total, Phil and Kay Robertson have a gaggle of 14 grandkids. They range in age from full-grown to toddlers and can often be found getting roped in to helping at the factory or going on beaver hunts with their eccentric granddad.

Day to day life in the bayou may be mundane for some, but for the Robertsons, every day brings a new adventure.