BC Rogers of Wren & Ivy retraces his origins to duck hunting among family and friends in cypress-studded, Mississippi Delta oxbows. How did those endearing influences effect him as a hunter, husband, and father? And what role did they eventually play in his development of a successful outdoor product line that embraces both classic styling and modern functionality? In today’s episode, we learn that beneath layers of leather and waxed cotton is an enduring tribute to family.
Duck Hunting…at Home??
“Man, you let them call and tell me tomorrow that a plane’s flying somewhere where there’s duck season, and I’m gone. I’m telling you, I’m gone.”
Ramsey Russell: I’m your host, Ramsey Russell. Join me here to listen to those conversations. Oh man, it is a hot day in June in Mississippi, but I’m in the air conditioning with my buddy B.C. Rogers of Wren & Ivy. B.C., how are you today?
B.C. Rogers: I’m doing good, Ramsey. Thanks for having me.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah. You got here early, you said, this morning, and until you stepped outside, you hadn’t realized that it’s summertime.
B.C. Rogers: I had no idea how hot it is. I got here early this morning, and it was comfortable
Ramsey Russell: It’s such an interesting struggle for me because I’m usually in Argentina this time of year. I try to stay in duck season.
B.C. Rogers: I know, I’ve been thinking about you during this whole— Well, I guess we’re not quarantined now, but whatever we are.
Ramsey Russell: I don’t know what we are, man. This has gone from crazy to crazier. I don’t know what the heck is going on. I’m not traveling for the duck hunts this year, so I’m stuck at home.
B.C. Rogers: How long are you going to stay home?
Ramsey Russell: Until the planes start flying. Man, you let them call and tell me tomorrow that a plane’s flying somewhere where there’s duck season, and I’m gone. I’m telling you, I’m gone. But right now, I think Labor Day weekend, as best as I can tell from talking to my partners down in South Africa. They’re talking about October, November. As a society, South Africa has health issues that make them real predisposed to this COVID stuff. Argentina— I’m going to say September on the early, March on the late, that planes will start flying. I think right now that it looks like—fingers crossed—Canada is going to open up. We’ll get to hunt in Canada. Then Mexico. Well, I’m looking forward to going to Mexico. I’m hoping that, by then, Azerbaijan will be open. I don’t know, dude. It’s scary.
Best Places in the World to Duck Hunt
B.C. Rogers: I did not get to go to Mexico this past year. I went the year before last, and that was one of the funnest hunts. Man, that was awesome.
Ramsey Russell: Oh, I love it. It’s close. It has familiar species. All that good stuff.
B.C. Rogers: I spend a lot of time in Mexico anyway, and we’re so familiar with the culture and the food. It’s awesome. It’s a great trip.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah. One of our most popular places down there is Obregón. Man, they eat pork chops and steaks and chicken and fish. Then, on Thursday night, it’s Mexican night. It always just blows my mind to have Mexican night in Mexico. Who eats Mexican food?
B.C. Rogers: Every day should be Mexican. Where I went, it was Mexican food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Ramsey Russell: Forrest does landscaping and a lot of his co-workers are Mexican. They took him to a spot, about two years ago, here—I think it’s in Madison County—that is the real deal. I won’t eat Mexican food in Mississippi.
B.C. Rogers: Oh, because you’re so used to the good stuff.
Ramsey Russell: It’s not really Mexican food.
B.C. Rogers: Well, I know what you mean, but if you order right, they’ll make you the real stuff here, too.
Ramsey Russell: I guess. I haven’t found that restaurant yet.
B.C. Rogers: Well, I’m from Morton.
Ramsey Russell: Morton. Oh, yeah, they’ve got plenty of them down there.
B.C. Rogers: The restaurants in Morton, I can assure you, are making real Mexican food for real Mexican people.
Ramsey Russell: I’ll go check that out. Tex and Mex alike. I get to Arizona in time to get down to Texas, South Texas. I worked for years down in South Texas, and I didn’t know what a goddang enchilada was until I went down to South Texas. That’s the real deal. Those little old ladies were making tortillas in the morning. That was good stuff.
B.C. Rogers: Well, Morton’s got 3,500 people and three Mexican restaurants, if that tells you anything.
Ramsey Russell: Alright. That ain’t too far from the house, either.
B.C. Rogers: No. You’re on that side of town.
Ramsey Russell: I’m going to have to check out Morton. Tell me this. We were talking before we started recording, and I wish we had recorded a lot, because that was a good conversation. You were born and raised in Morton, Mississippi?
Growing Up on the Hunt in the Mississippi Delta
“I didn’t know that that was unusual. I just assumed everybody’s mama was hunting.”
B.C. Rogers: That’s right.
Ramsey Russell: But you grew up hunting in the Delta. You were showing me some pictures from way back when.
B.C. Rogers: Yeah, my mother is from Greenwood, and all my family, the Melton side of my family, are from Greenwood. My dad started duck hunting in ‘66 or ‘67 when he was in college. He grew up deer hunting. He’s from Morton, and, like a lot of people from Central Mississippi, he grew up squirrel hunting, rabbit hunting, then deer hunting. Particularly back then—because I’m only 43, but I’ve hunted my whole life—if you go deer hunting, you might hunt all weekend and not see a deer. People forget that. My dad somehow got into duck hunting and just kind of got bit with it.
Ramsey Russell: That’s easy to do.
B.C. Rogers: Yes. You can relate, huh? I resemble that remark. Then, when he started dating and married my mom, she fell in love with it. I’ve never known a time when the two of them weren’t duck hunting together. My whole life, my mom has hunted almost every time my dad hunts. It’s unusual, but I didn’t know any different. I didn’t know that that was unusual. I just assumed everybody’s mama was hunting.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah. You brought up a good point. It seems to me that in the ‘60s and ‘70s—I grew up in the ‘70s—duck hunting was kind of a Delta thing. If you wanted to deer hunt, there might be a few camps inside the levee, but mostly you went to the hills to deer hunt.
B.C. Rogers: Still, they do. My friends the Castle’s live right there outside Morgan City, and there’s huge amounts of deer right there. They go to the hills for their deer camp. Still, to this day. It’s just how they do it. My uncles were in that— What was the name of that place? It was out inside the levee, one of those island places. That was just kind of the culture. But if you duck hunted, you duck hunted in the Delta. I don’t have this affliction, and I make fun of my Melton cousins about it. They are not going unless you’re going to burn them to the ground. If you don’t have the limit by 8:15, my cousin Floyd is gone. Got to go to the office. We make so much fun of him. We’ll go hunting, and ducks are coming in twozies, threezies. It’s beautiful. A couple of years ago, I went with him. We were on a little flooded out swath out into a field. We got in there, and, of course, a pretty good number of ducks came in right at daylight. We got some birds. Then they started trickling back. Pairs, singles. I thought, “Man, this is going to be the greatest hunt of all time.” About 8:15, he’s out. Like, “Alright, I think it’s about over.” I’m like, “Floyd—”
Ramsey Russell: That’s spoiled
B.C. Rogers: “—we just killed a duck like five minutes ago.”
Ramsey Russell: 8:15? That’s when they start coming in.
B.C. Rogers: Man, I make so much fun of the Delta guys. That’s how they are, man. They’re either going to burn them to the ground, or they ain’t going to go.
Ramsey Russell: Golly, man. That’s a blessing, right there.
B.C. Rogers: Well, it’s a blessing except that sometimes they don’t get to go. I’m going to go regardless. That’s how we started it. We have a family duck camp that we spend lots of time at. Every weekend during duck season, at least. We go about once a month all year long, I guess. It’s just been part of our family tradition.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah. You were showing me some pictures before we started recording. You were four years old in a duck blind in a break in the Mississippi Delta. What are some of your earliest memories of duck hunting? I can guarantee you that for a lot of folks listening, myself included, family is who got us into it. I love these threads on the Internet: “If you could hunt with anybody tomorrow, who would you hunt with?” 99% of the time, it’s going to be a daddy or a granddaddy. We always go back to our roots. I’m just curious. Boy, going through your pictures, man, and seeing them on the computer— All that old camo, you know what I’m saying? What are some of the most indelible memories you’ve got from growing up in the Delta, hunting?
B.C. Rogers: I don’t really have memories of not being there. I was going to the hunting camp every weekend during duck season before I could go. Wren is my seven year old daughter, and Ivy is my five year old son. Wren and Ivy do this, too. What my parents would do is, they would go hunting. At about 8:30, 9:00, they’d come back and get me and my sister, when we were real little. They wouldn’t make us go out and stay too long and get cold. Back then, man, there weren’t any insulated boots in kids’ sizes.
Ramsey Russell: It still got cold back in those days, too.
B.C. Rogers: Well, yeah. I don’t know. Maybe. I certainly felt cold. You saw those pictures. My dad would buy me a new pair of Walls coveralls at the beginning of every hunting season because I’d have outgrown the last ones. You’d put blue jeans and waffle long johns and everything you owned on, and you’d still be freezing cold. None of it was any good. Anyway, they’d come back and get us. My first memories would be working those late morning groups. My dad blowing duck calls.
Ramsey Russell: Was your dad kind of the ringleader of the posse?
B.C. Rogers: I don’t know. He was the ringleader of our hunting group. There were three or four guys in our hunting camp that were sort of the leaders of their little groups. It was usually just our family and our friends. One of my mentors—I laugh when I say that because he taught me a lot of good things and a lot of bad things, I think—was Fred Riley, who we both know,
Ramsey Russell: I know Mr. Fred. I knew him.
B.C. Rogers: Yeah. Fred was usually hunting with Dad and my friend and mentor Tom Scott also. Watching the two of them work ducks. Watching Fred work dogs. When you’re five years old and you see that dog, it may as well be a mythical dragon. Watching that dog jump out of a blind and go do all that. Fred’s dogs were doing stuff that’s become common now, but in 1985, dogs didn’t do hand signals. The stuff that Fred’s dogs were doing back then, people know about now, but that was very unusual at the time.
Ramsey Russell: It’s become a huge industry, but, no, you’re right. That’s how I know Fred, is from getting into labs. Boy, I got lucky with the lab of a lifetime right out the gate. I joined a local retrieving club that Fred was the kingpin of. He was the godfather. The man knew more about labs than they know about themselves.
B.C. Rogers: If you didn’t know that, you’d just ask him. He’d tell you.
Ramsey Russell: I was wondering, when you said he hunted with your daddy, if they ever had a difference of opinion, if their opinions ever varied.
B.C. Rogers: They did, but my dad is a very gentle, diplomatic person. They had a mutual respect. Actually, my dad may be one of Fred’s only friends that Fred never ran off. If you spend any time with Fred, you’d see people—
Ramsey Russell: I loved him.
B.C. Rogers: I loved him too.
Ramsey Russell: He was a very polarizing figure, but I liked him. He liked me, and we got along just fine.
Endearing Early Hunting Memories
“My dad started taking me squirrel hunting from when I could barely walk.”
B.C. Rogers: Even the people that hated him liked him at different times. He could really get on people’s nerves. I don’t know if that’s how you’d say it. Dad’s one of the only friends that Fred never ran off. Dad’s pretty cool with himself, and so he doesn’t really need for people to affirm who he is. But watching that and being there with my family are my earliest duck hunting memories. My earliest hunting memories were more about squirrel hunting. I still love squirrel hunting. I squirrel hunt all the time. My dad started taking me squirrel hunting from when I could barely walk.
Ramsey Russell: I like to hunt, period. I will say that. Turkey hunting, I know you’re eat up with, like my son, and I’m not. I just don’t have the bug, and I don’t want it. I don’t want another bug. My son Duncan, in high school, got into squirrel hunting. Maybe it was middle school. For some reason he got into it, and I did too when I was a little boy. He was wanting me to carry him out there. Here I was a grown man, and I said, “Alright, we’ll go out here.” Man, I fell in love with it because it felt like being a little boy again. Getting out in those woods, he’d go his way, and I’d hear that .22. Bam, bam, bam. I’ll tell you what: every time he shot, I could listen and hear something hit the ground.
B.C. Rogers: Thunk. I love that sound.
Ramsey Russell: I’m the hunter that just wants to go sit. I’ll sit and stand until I see a squirrel. I might try to move in on him. That’s just a lot of fun.
B.C. Rogers: I enjoy it, too. In high school and all through college, I was very much into bow hunting for whitetails. Actually, when I started Wren & Ivy I reached back out to Mike. We would have lunch every six weeks or two months, and he gave me some fabulous advice as I started the company. I know y’all were friends. When I was in high school, there was a group of us that hung out at Indian Archery, his company. Did you ever go there?
Ramsey Russell: Yes. I lived there, man.
B.C. Rogers: Same here. We were probably there together. As a matter of fact, another one of our mutual friends, B.T. Stebbins, and I were talking about this the other day. He was a few years older than me. I was like twelve, and they were like sixteen. You were a few years older than them. There was a culture there, for a little while, that we all just hung out there. I was so eat up with that. But several years ago, now, I kind of had to— When you hunt, you can’t do everything once you have kids. I do much less deer hunting than I used to.
A Love of Hunting Turkey, Deer & Ducks
“You’re talking to them. You’re interacting with them. You’ve got that relational thing going on.”
Ramsey Russell: I do, too. To me, anymore, deer hunting really, truly is just sitting out, playing on my phone or reading a book, overlooking a green field. But back in those days, I was into it. I see these guys making these seventy or eighty yard shots— I don’t believe in that, number one, but it defeats the purpose of deer hunting, number two. I’ve still got that old bow I bought from them boys back in the late ‘80s, and it throws a rainbow at 37 yards. I’m going to tell you what, man. You had to be close—you had to be intimate—with those deer. That’s a lot of the same thing that appealed to me about duck hunting. Oh, I love to shoot, but it’s that relationship. It’s getting them going and getting them in close.
B.C. Rogers: Communicating, too. Like with turkey hunting. You’ve told me that you aren’t really a big turkey hunter, and I’m actually surprised by that because communicating with ducks and communicating with turkeys is really similar.
Ramsey Russell: It is. It’s that relationship.
B.C. Rogers: You become part of their environment in a way that you don’t as much in other types of hunting.
Ramsey Russell: You’re talking to them. You’re interacting with them. You’ve got that relational thing going on. Because you can’t talk deer, you figure them out. You look at his patterns, you look at his trails, you look at the flow of traffic, you find the bottleneck, you find a pinch point, and you wait. Duck hunting ain’t so much that. Turkey hunting’s not, either. Now, B.C., when the world’s regular, I don’t have the time or inclination to go out in the woods when I’m home during turkey season. I don’t need any more of a relationship with wildlife than I’ve got. If I want to stay married, and I’m very happily married.
B.C. Rogers: I kind of have that with deer hunting right now, at this stage of my life. My son and daughter both are now wanting to go deer hunting, so I may get back into it more like I was if they want to do it. But I had to realize, seven years ago when Wren was born, and particularly four or five years ago when Ivy was born, that I can’t hunt fifty-something days of duck season, hunt however many days of turkey season I hunt, run a business, and deer hunt. I’m telling you, I remember the day I decided. I was sitting in this office. My father-in-law has a fabulous deer place twenty minutes from here, and I’m welcome there any time. We’re very close. I would be sitting in this office, knowing I needed to work and wanting to deer hunt. Then I’d go deer hunt, and I’d be sitting in the stand thinking, “Your dumb butt needs to be at the office.” So I said, “I’m just going to give up this struggle. I’m going to say that I ain’t doing it anymore.” That’s when that changed for me. You’re talking about turkey hunting, but you’ve told me that you’ve killed several turkeys. My dad has a similar story. Of course, he makes me mad when he says this. He’s been turkey hunting three times, and he’s killed three turkeys. He says there’s no sport in it.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah. My real turkey hunting buddies tell me, “The reason you’re not mad at turkeys is because you haven’t hunted the right one yet.”
B.C. Rogers: That may be true. Don’t do it.
Ramsey Russell: I don’t want to. My turkey hunting experience is a lot like your daddy’s. I’ve killed ten turkeys and been all over the world. I’ve got to get out West and shoot a Merriam’s. It’s just like “You’re one away from the World, why not?”
B.C. Rogers: Did you go to South America and kill ocellated?
Ramsey Russell: I’ve shot ocellated down in Mexico. That really, to me, was one of my favorite hunts, but it’s not turkey hunting, calling them in and doing all that. It’s the environment. It’s the jaguars and the jungle and the Mayan ruins. It’s that bird. The last time I went, I went with a bunch of clients. There were six clients and myself at camp. We tent camp out there. It’s as nice as can be for a tent camp, but it’s a tent camp. It’s out in the jungle. There are monkeys swinging through the vines and all that mess. You’re just immersed in it. I brought my camera and could have shot a few, but I was determined to get a picture of one. That didn’t happen. I can show you a picture with all these different kaleidoscopic colors out there in the tree and say, “You see that? That’s a turkey.” That’s about it. It’s just so dog-hair thick with limbs.
B.C. Rogers: But you didn’t shoot one?
Ramsey Russell: I didn’t shoot one the last time I went. I have shot them in the past and loved it. It’s really a hunt. I’ve got a bunch of buddies who are eat up with turkey hunting that, well, if they can’t call them, they can’t do this. They aren’t going to sneak one out of a tree. Man, sneaking up in the woods— It’s not a lush, Tarzan-swinging-through-the-vines jungle. It’s dry. It’s Mexico. It’s dog hair thick. Walking through those woods silently—unless you’re a native or a ghost—is impossible. It’s the most challenging thing. To me, it’s a lot more like capercaillie hunting, and that also just really appealed to me. But I’m just not a turkey hunter. The last time I went, Forrest talked me into going to Texas, and I got my Rio, but I was bored. Those turkeys out there were strutting, doing their thing, and my phone was chirping. I was like, “God, I wonder who that is texting. I need to take a look at it.” It just didn’t do it for me.
Hooked on Hunting Adventures & Friendships
“Nothing, to me, is more connecting than a duck hunt.”
B.C. Rogers: See, I can’t relate to that, but my dad feels the same way. You telling that story made me realize this. We’ve become closer and closer friends over the last few years. I realized that I’m not sure that you even are hooked on hunting. I think you’re hooked on adventures.
Ramsey Russell: There’s a lot of truth to that, I won’t lie. I won’t lie to you.
B.C. Rogers: The guys that get really into whitetail hunting, for example. Guys like my father-in-law. He will go sit in the same spot for seventy days. The stories that make you light up when you’re telling me about them are from when you’re doing something you’ve never seen before.
Ramsey Russell: That is what puts wind in my sails. The newness of it. I’ve got a trip planned this summer that has nothing whatsoever to do with hunting, with a buddy of mine who doesn’t hunt. The only time he’s ever hunted was with me. He came to Mississippi one time just to hunt with me. We were college roommates. He’s from Rochester, New York. I was describing to him just a little while ago, before I drove up here, what I do and where I go. I do love to duck hunt, and I love those hunts—I hate to say it—when I’m by myself and it’s not just ducks coming in everywhere, bam bam bam, but it’s the hunts where I’ve got to be— Like Azerbaijan, this year. We’d shoot fifteen to twenty ducks a day, but you couldn’t get that if you weren’t hyper-focused, looking downwind, not blinking your eyes, and sweeping the sky when they came in. You had to play a perfect game. That is what gets me, on the hunting side, anymore. I go out with folks and we just have a good time, but what I really love, and the places I have yet to go in the United States and abroad, are as much about the food and the culture and that whole backdrop. That’s really and truly what turns me on, man. I love it. Especially because I’m wearing waders and carrying a shotgun. That’s what’s so cool about it.
B.C. Rogers: Well, the connection you make with people— I’m not a golfer, but I hear that golf is this way. I know that fishing can be this way, from personal experience. Nothing, to me, is more connecting than a duck hunt. When you duck hunt with somebody, you’re almost always going to be friends with that person for, really, forever. If you go on a duck hunting trip with somebody, you have a connection with that person. You’ll run into them years later, and you’re buddies,
Ramsey Russell: You’re right about that. I had this conversation with a duck guy down in Texas this year. Forrest and I showed up, mixed it up with a lot of his clients, and had a great time. We made a lot of friends, added a lot of numbers to our rolodex, and had a great time just like you described. He and I were riding back to the car, and we were talking about all these impolite people—I want to say another, bad word—on social media. The negativity. Social media does something. It’s an antisocial app. I don’t meet those people in a duck blind. I’ve never hunted with one of them. They’re all just nice, genuine people. They’ve got dogs and kids and jobs and passions.
B.C. Rogers: There’s an element of judgmental natures that is elevated by some social media platforms. I think it’s really important—I think we do this in person, and I hope that we can change social media to be more this way, although I have had very few bad experiences with social media, personally—that we can’t turn on each other. The two of us live in Mississippi. All of our buddies are hunters, and most of our bodies are duck hunters. We don’t know anybody that, probably, has a problem with us being duck hunters because we live where we live. But we need to remember—of course, you get all over the world, so you see this—as a community, we need to remember that that is very rare. We are a very small group of people. When we start judging each other and turning on each other—
Ramsey Russell: United we stand, divided we fall. We’re all in this thing together.
B.C. Rogers: If somebody wants to do something a certain way—and it’s ethical, and it’s inside the regs—I say, “Have at it.” It may not be the way I prefer to do it, but when we start judging each other as a tiny little community, man, we’re going to be in big trouble.
Hunting Apparel & Mossy Oak Memories
“I remember that there was a debate in Scott County. Like, I don’t know, “Do you want that Mossy Oak, or do you want that tree bark?”
Ramsey Russell: I’m with you. You’re right. Let’s go back to the break, for a minute. Let’s go back to the break, because I’m sitting here thinking about this four year old little boy. You’ve got all those pictures scanned in. I really enjoyed that, because here we are in the year 2020 and there’s a million different camo patterns to choose from. Back then, you had one.
B.C. Rogers: That’s right. Woodland.
Ramsey Russell: You were all wearing the same one
B.C. Rogers: Came in two colors. You could get the green version or the brown version.
Ramsey Russell: That’s right. Then somewhere around junior high school or your freshman year in high school, bam, there’s B.C. Rogers wearing brand-new Mossy Oak.
B.C. Rogers: Yep. I’ll tell you that story real quick. There was a guy named Bill Seagraves who was also my Boy Scout leader. He was our Boy Scout troop leader. He owned the local military surplus store. It was a military surplus store, but it was really our hunting store. It’s where you bought all of your hunting stuff. Well, the year that Toxey Haas, Mr. Haas, came out with Bottomland, he and a couple of guys—I don’t know these guys, they’re not friends of mine, so I don’t want to act like I’m familiar, but I’ve heard the story—were riding around just selling to any store they could. Well, Bill’s military surplus was one of their accounts that they opened that first year. I remember walking into Bill’s surplus store, and they didn’t make anything but a shirt and a pair of pants. Maybe there was a hat or something. It was like a shot of lightning. All of us were like, “Man, look at this. You’d disappear in this.” We all had to have it.
Ramsey Russell: You were talking about Mike Morgan and the boys up there at Indian Archery a little while ago, and that was the first time I ever laid eyes on it. I’m like,”Holy cow.”
B.C. Rogers: That was the first place you ever saw Mossy Oak?
Ramsey Russell: That was the first time I ever saw it.
B.C. Rogers: Okay. Now, do you remember tree bark camo? It was more of a gray color. I can’t remember if tree bark was out right before Mossy Oak or if Mossy Oak was right before tree bark.
Ramsey Russell: Tree bark came first. Well, I guess it was. Sitting in a pine tree in a deer stand, you would blend in. It was very good.
B.C. Rogers: I think this still goes on between Mossy Oak and Realtree, now, today. I remember that there was a debate in Scott County. Like, I don’t know, “Do you want that Mossy Oak, or do you want that tree bark?”
Ramsey Russell: That’s right. Boy, that’s reaching on back in the annals of time.
B.C. Rogers: I don’t know. What year would that have been?
Ramsey Russell: That would have been the mid to late ‘80s, because Indian Archery, archery store though they were, were turkey hunters, and they used to have the owl hooting contest and the turkey calling contest. Bob Westerfield always judged it. I was so proud. I won a door prize, and I won a Mossy Oak turkey blind which, at the time, was about a four foot wide bolt of fabric—
B.C. Rogers: I still have it.
Ramsey Russell: I won about an eight foot length of it with four poles. That was my turkey blind. That ain’t what I wanted. I wanted that one-piece jumpsuit. I went up there and said something to Mike, and he was like, “Well, boy, that man is leaving. You’d better go grab him.” As I remember, Toxey—that’s the only time, I guess, I ever met him—was driving a station wagon of sorts. I caught him as he was about to back up. I introduced myself and asked if I could swap. He said, “Absolutely.” I wore that dadgum thing until I busted the seams on it.
B.C. Rogers: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, yeah. You saw a picture of it. My first outfit was just a shirt and pants. That’s just how we did it. My first hunting coats, though, were solid colors because they didn’t make camouflage for little-bitty kids. Look at this right here. Grab that book. Somebody, today, came by the shop here. It’s called The Old Pro Turkey Hunter. This guy’s from Mississippi. Gene Nunnery. Somebody dropped this book off today, and I don’t even know who it was. I was on a call. I guess they’re going to call me and tell me who it was. Look, it’s signed by him in 1980. Right there.
Ramsey Russell: Gene Nunnery. I think he’s from Greenville. I would guess he was.
B.C. Rogers: I’ve seen that book, the one I’ve been trying to track down. There was a guy from Greenwood that wrote a book called Tall Timber Gabriels. Have you ever seen that book? My mom being from Greenwood, I’ve been trying to track that book down for years. I can’t find it. I’ve got my feelers out for it, so if you find a copy, I want it.
Ramsey Russell: I will. I did hear that yesterday was the day Billy Joe jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge. I know that, being from Greenwood, you’ve heard that story about a million times.
B.C. Rogers: That’s right. I saw several of my Greenwood friends had posted a picture of the plaque that they have there by the Tallahatchie Bridge.
Ramsey Russell: Ain’t that something. I know how you grew up. You were a Delta boy, practically, because all the good times when you were growing up were in the Delta.
B.C. Rogers: They would not claim you, though, so just be careful saying that. What’s really funny is that I’m from a tiny little town—Morton, Mississippi—but my cousins from Greenwood still say, “He’s from Jackson.” I’m like, “Wait a minute, y’all live in a throbbing metropolis compared to my hometown, and y’all are telling me I’m from Jackson?”
The Beginnings of Wren & Ivy
“It’s crazy what you can do if you don’t know you can’t.”
Ramsey Russell: How did Wren & Ivy begin? How did you go from there to here?
B.C. Rogers: Well, first of all, when you tell these stories after they’ve happened, it sounds like you had a plan. That has not been how my life has happened. My life has been a sequence of God slamming closed every door he did not want me to walk through and leaving one open.
Ramsey Russell: That’s a good description.
B.C. Rogers: And I stupidly walk through that door because it’s the only one open, and that’s how my path has been. There’s never been a plan. I don’t have a plan today. I wake up every day and try to do the next thing he wants me to do. In hindsight, I’ll tell you what, it sounds like a story with a plan. We have a gift shop here in Madison called Persnickety, and I was working in the gift shop. We sold a luggage company, and I got to be buddies with the guy who made that luggage. I asked him to build me a ditty bag to go duck hunting with. I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for, and he wouldn’t do it. I asked him to build me a shotgun case that had a pocket on the side that would hold all my choke tubes and a little cleaning kit, because I couldn’t find one just like what I wanted, and he wouldn’t do it.
Ramsey Russell: Did you want a specific material?
B.C. Rogers: Yeah. Well, they’re now called the Heirloom Ditty Bag, the Heritage Blind Bag, and the Fowling Piece Case. Those are the products that I asked him to build me, but he wouldn’t do it. The third one was my shell belt. We call it the Shootinest Shell Belt. I never understood why a shell belt wasn’t split in two so that the shells would be in the front and nothing would be in the back. I asked him to build me that, and he wouldn’t do it. After the third thing, he said, “You know, these are pretty good ideas. You should just go build them yourself.” Well, I now know—I’m still very close friends with this person—that he was blowing me off. Because he knew what I didn’t know: that you can’t just go do that. But I didn’t know that at the time, and it’s crazy what you can do if you don’t know you can’t. So that was sort of the genesis of it. I made the first prototypes, and then the first run was fifty. I found a manufacturer. Locally, we built the prototypes, and then we found a manufacturer who was hand making every piece but could do it on a larger scale. We built the first fifty of the three products, and I sold those fifty before they started making them. I called the guy back and said, “Look, I need to order fifty more.” I sold that fifty before the hundred was made. I called him back and said, “I need to order fifty more.” Now, our ditty bag is $385. These are not inexpensive bags. They’re expensive to build. The materials are expensive. It ends up being a high-dollar item. He called me back and said, “You sold 150 of these things?” I said, “Yeah.” He said, “Have you got any other ideas?” I said, “Yeah, I’ve got a lot of ideas.”
Ramsey Russell: Were you selling them at Persnickety?
B.C. Rogers: I’ve always just been a big duck hunter, and so I have a lot of big duck hunting friends. I take a lot of people duck hunting. I was just calling people I knew and saying, “Hey, I designed a duck hunting bag and a gun case. You want one?” They call that picking low-hanging fruit, I think. That’s how the first product line came out. That was in 2015, but we didn’t actually get product until May of 2016. So, recently. All this started out because I couldn’t find what I wanted. That’s still what I try to do. Everything I design—we’re working on the stuff to come out in the fall, right now—I try to say, “Okay, what would I want different about what’s available?” I try to design from that standpoint.
Wren & Ivy: Nostalgia, Form, and Function
“The thing is built to last so that you can put memories around the thing.”
Ramsey Russell: Do you think your ideal product, what you want— Where does your past fit into that? Those men you grew up with out there on the break?
B.C. Rogers: Yeah. I was always connected to these sorts of vintage materials: heirloom-quality work, leather and canvas and solid brass. I was always connected. I’ve had to sort of identify why that was because I’m in that business now, but I never really knew why I was connected to it. So many of those experiences are tied to the people who taught you and the people that you looked up to. My uncles were a big influence on me. Some of my dad’s friends—Ray Riley and others, Tom Brown—would take me hunting as much as my dad did. As you get older, you start to go, “Man, remember that bag that Tom Brown had?” That kind of stuff. When I started, I said, “Okay, when you see a Wren & Ivy bag, my design process is that I want you to see that bag and think that bag could be from 1935 or 2020, from the outside. But when you open it and start using it, I want it to function based on what we’ve learned over that time period.” There needs to be a place for your cell phone. There might need to be a waterproof pocket here, an insulated pocket there. There needs to be a functional shoulder strap. Some of that older stuff is really just a canvas bucket.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah.
B.C. Rogers: We’ve got a lot more gear to take care of. It’s all pretty expensive now, and you need more than that. My functionality is a little different.
Ramsey Russell: As you were telling that story, I was thinking of my granddad. I wonder what happened to that bag. I was sitting here wondering what happened to that bag. Maybe my uncle had it. He had a hunting bag that was literally a zip-up, three feet long, olive drab, military-grade duffel. That went to the blind with him, it went in the back of the Bronco, it went everywhere he went. It had toilet paper and a snake bite kit and extra socks and extra long johns and an extra cap and extra Jon-e warmers. It was everything a man needed. If you fell in, he had socks for you. He was a Boy Scout. But it was a big old bag. As you were describing it, I think back to my origins and to that era, back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, how practical they were. They did shop at army surplus, or just reached in the closet and grabbed out their army coat.
B.C. Rogers: Absolutely. And their army rifle.
Ramsey Russell: Everything was leather and canvas. That’s what they used. My first hunting coat was my grandmother’s, because I was just a child and she was a small woman. It was just a canvas coat.
B.C. Rogers: Yeah. Absolutely. Mine, too. Luckily, I was starting in the early to mid ‘80s. Things were changing drastically right then. To answer your question fully, that’s why. I think that there are a lot of people, from all age groups, that have looked up to those people. You grow up reading Nash Buckingham and seeing his picture, if you’re from Mississippi, and part of you wants to connect with that. I refer to our hunting bags—and, really, our travel bags too—as like a totem. It’s a symbol. Now, materialism is gross, right? It’s not about it being fancy or how much it costs or any of that. It’s about how long it lasts so that it can be a symbol of all of those experiences
Ramsey Russell: Value. Practical.
B.C. Rogers: Yes. When you see your grandfather’s bag, it could be made of anything. It has nothing to do with that bag. It’s a symbol of what your grandfather was trying to accomplish. That’s what I think about when I design my bags. I want you to go on that trip with your family, and I want your kids to have seen that— You have our duffel bag, Wellington Lodge is what we call it. I want people to see that and say, “I remember. That thing is part of the memory, but the memory is important. The thing is not.”
Ramsey Russell: That’s very interesting that you said that. I used to have this old duck strap. I’ve got to tell this story. There was a guy up in Nebraska, I believe, hunting on the Missouri River. He was on the old chat rooms, twenty years ago, and he made duck straps. Before I ordered one, he had swapped to a camo imprinted version of a leather duck strap. I wanted the leather. I wanted that leather duck strap. I called him up, and he said, “Well, I don’t have any. All I’ve got is camo.” I just said, “Man, I don’t believe you. You’ve been doing this for ten years. Don’t tell me you ain’t got no leather stuck away somewhere. I want leather.” It’s kind of what you were saying. My granddad used leather. I wanted that leather. I’ve got to tell y’all the story. Y’all bear with me. He said, “Well, let me tell you this story.” I said, “Okay, I’ll listen to you.” He started telling me about his dog. He had a dog named Cally, a lab, and they hunted on the Missouri River. As he described where his blind was located, he hunted North and South winds in the bend of a river. Canada geese and mallards galore. She developed cancer, and it crushed him because she was the dog of a lifetime. He had a bunch of his friends get together. It was summertime. The river was down. There was a sandbar beneath the blind. In the shadow of the blind, they grilled out hamburgers and hot dogs, and all of his closest friends and duck hunting buddies came over. They pitched a few bumpers to the dog. She could barely crawl out. The cancer done eat her up. The vet stepped in and gave her a shot, and they buried her right there under the blind. He said, “You know what? I bought this English bridle leather. I got all these accoutrements, I got all this stuff, and I put it together to commemorate this dog and this day. I don’t remember who it was that didn’t show up, but,” he said, “That son of a bitch ain’t getting one. If you want to buy it, you can have it.” Man, I would have walked to Nebraska after hearing that story.
B.C. Rogers: Is that a true story? Where is that strap?
Ramsey Russell: It’s a true story. Well, that’s what I was getting at. You know how you’re talking about people and what you remember. It’s not just the product and the functionality. One day, we were hunting at Willow Break, and my son Duncan was twelve or thirteen years old. He had just gotten to the point where, if you were patient with him, he could knock out his own limit. He did that morning. We shot two mallards and a bunch of ringnecks. He saw that strap hanging up—his ducks on one side, mine on the other—and he said, “I want a strap like that one day.” I told him that story, and I said, “Well, you have to wait until I die,” because this strap has been all over the world, now. It had all the brass and all the stuff and weighed a ton. I took it everywhere. As a matter of fact, I forgot the thing in Uruguay, one time. I about broke the phone bill, calling those folks and saying, “I’m going to kill you if you don’t mail this thing back.” They did. He said, “No, if I ever get that strap, because I’ve seen you hunt with that a whole lot, I’m going to hang it up and put it in a safe place.” When he said that, I think I hunted with it the next day, and then I hung it up in my game room. It’s there. I hung it up. Because I was thinking, “Holy cow, the things we take for granted.” A duffel bag, a blind bag. It speaks to me what you’re saying, because I’m that guy where, if I buy a watch and I like it, I’m going to wear it for the next forty years. My gun. I don’t know. If you think about all these things as gear, it’s like a hammer. A carpenter’s hammer. I want to use my hammer, though. I get attached to things like that because of the past, because of the story, because of where they’ve been, because of who they connect me to.
B.C. Rogers: Right. It’s not about the thing.
Ramsey Russell: It’s not. That’s right. You nailed it.
B.C. Rogers: Being a premium brand or high-end brand, I think that’s why it’s so important to me that that is said. It’s not about the thing. The thing is built to last so that you can put memories around the thing.
Ramsey Russell: I’ve had that overnight bag—and it’s a big, good overnight bag—for several years now, and it looks brand new.
B.C. Rogers: Thank you. I say this all the time, but I really do think they hold up. Those materials—leather, canvas, solid brass—if you take care of it, it’s just like a saddle. There’s nothing prettier than a hundred year old saddle that’s always been taken care of. That’s why I built it out of the materials I did. I don’t mean you have to baby it, because you absolutely do not. But if, once a year, you clean it up and maybe put a little wax on the canvas or a little saddle soap or something on the leather, it will last forever. It’ll look better than it did when you first got it.
Industry Changes Across Time…and Circling Back
“Luckily, the Wren & Ivy door opened for me at a time where people started to realize, “I’m willing to pay for something I can keep a little longer.”
Ramsey Russell: Right. I get it, because of your past and because of your upbringing—that’s what we’re talking about—but for you to get into the outdoor world— And I’m seeing this. It’s funny. When I look at your pictures from, golly, 25 years ago on your computer, I see how you and how the industry have started running this big, full circle since the days you grew up hunting wearing brown or green camo, just like myself, or grandmama’s old canvas coat, to now. All the different flavors and technologies and stuff like that. To me, parts of the hunting industry have, in a lot of ways, become disposable. Parts of it have become fashionable.
B.C. Rogers: It has, but, humbly, I think that there’s two schools right now. There’s the disposable school that’s got a $19 gun case. You know what? That’s okay, if that’s where your budget is. I sell a $400 gun case. You can buy $19 gun cases for the rest of your life and maybe never get to $400.
Ramsey Russell: I’ve got a $19 dove vest in green camo that I’ve had since high school, though.
B.C. Rogers: That’s what I’m saying. Well, but that’s different because things were built differently back then. There’s that school of sort of disposable stuff, but it’s less expensive. It’s less expensive than it’s ever been. Then there’s this new school. Wren & Ivy. SITKA is a great example. It’s made from ballistic nylon, modern materials, but it definitely has its place. If I’m going on a sheep hunt, do you think I’m going to take a canvas and leather bag? No, of course not. As long as it’s made well, it still can be that totem. It still can last. Luckily, the Wren & Ivy door opened for me at a time where people started to realize, “I’m willing to pay for something I can keep a little longer.” Part of that is that younger people are tired of having to replace things. They’re tired of putting them in a landfill. Some of the modern gear is also built in a real high quality.
Ramsey Russell: The brands you named are high quality.
B.C. Rogers: They are, and that stuff’s going to last.
Ramsey Russell: If I can buy a pair of waders one time and have them last me for the next ten years, that’s a whole lot of shotgun shells I can buy instead of having waders as an annual expense. That’s how I look at it.
B.C. Rogers: Well, and the problem of finding something that fits you well, that holds your stuff well, that works well for the way you like to hunt. The money is one part of it, but there’s also just the time of trying to find that thing. If you find that thing and it’s going to last you, it makes sense to do it.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah. I agree. What’s next for Wren & Ivy? That’s what I’m trying to think. Where to now?
B.C. Rogers: Well, this year has been really—
Ramsey Russell: Boy, this year was a stick in the spokes for everybody.
B.C. Rogers: An interesting year. Interestingly, we’ve done very well through this time, but new product development has been challenging because we’ve had to shut down our manufacturing for three months. I’ve got some pretty exciting things coming this year, both on the hunting side and on the traveling side. My friend Jimbo Ronquest is working with me on a product that I’m really excited about. My friend Josh Raggio is working with me on a product that I’m really excited about on the hunting side.
Ramsey Russell: I’m going to record him tomorrow, by the way.
B.C. Rogers: Oh, are you? Alright. I talked to him last night. Then, on the travel side, I’ve got a couple of items that are going to fill a niche that we don’t fill and, in some cases, fill a niche that’s not even out there. I’m really excited. I’m most excited because, had it gone on much longer, we weren’t going to have time to get those new products done. I got a set of prototypes in, the first of this week, and it’s very rare that I build one prototype. There’s usually three or four. One of them was like, “Okay, boys, you did it.”
Ramsey Russell: Well, I can tell you’re excited for it.
B.C. Rogers: I am very excited about 2020, yes.
Wren & Ivy: A Family Affair
“I feel blessed, a lot of times, that my life partner is my business partner.”
Ramsey Russell: I’ve got another question for you. I met you probably a year after y’all started. Anita and I went down to New Orleans. There was a hunting show down there, and that’s where I met you and your wife in the booth. You’ve always got a very beautiful booth. I like that. You really do. As you know, my wife is my partner. She’s the brains of the operation, I’m going to tell you right now. She is the brains of the operation. A lot of my repeat clients skip me altogether. They just go to her and say, “Hey, put me back on that hunt. I don’t need to talk to Ramsey.” Do y’all partition the roles? That’s what I’m trying to ask. She’s your life partner and she’s your business partner. I see parts of her, what I think to be her, expressed in y’all’s displays and stuff like that.
B.C. Rogers: No question. My wife has a design background and a merchandising background, so she has been an enormous contributor to that part. She doesn’t do much of the designing of new products, although she probably could do it better than me, particularly on the traveling side. I grew up in a family business. My grandfather, my great-grandfather— We just have had nothing but family businesses my whole life. In a family business, you don’t have a job description. You’re the lead toilet cleaner. This year, I’ve been the lunch lady and the homeschool janitor because my wife turned into a school teacher, this year, because we had to take them home. But, no, Kim and I do not have defined roles. I don’t know, maybe it would be better if we did. We just do whatever needs to be done next. I’m sure that’s how you do it.
Ramsey Russell: That is a lot of how it is, but when it comes to the front guy stuff, I love people. I love being in front of people. I love telling duck hunting stories. My wife, she likes—don’t ask me why—the number type stuff, the organization. I’m big picture, and she’s fine detail. We don’t set out saying who’s going to do what; it just happens that way.
B.C. Rogers: Kim and I are both very similar. We’re both people people, so you got lucky on that. Her strengths and my strengths are really in line with one another, unlike some teams. So we have to bring in people that are good at the stuff that we’re not so good at. I think there’s just one big bucket of tasks that need to happen, and we do the next thing that has to be done.
Ramsey Russell: I feel blessed, a lot of times, that my life partner is my business partner.
B.C. Rogers: I do too. The challenges that come with being in a family business are far overshadowed by the benefits. Actually, you just missed Kim and Wren and Ivy. They were here ten minutes before you got here. It’s just been an enormous blessing to have my kids. Ivy wasn’t born when I named the company. Kim was pregnant with Ivy when I named the company. Of course, I named the company Wren & Ivy when I made those first prototypes for me. I just put a wren and ivy on it. I didn’t know I was naming a company. I just said, “Well, I’m going to call this Wren & Ivy because that’s my kids’ names.”
Ramsey Russell: Y’all are very family-oriented, I know. I see y’all on social media. Now, when you and Kim are at the break, y’all are at the break. The whole family.
B.C. Rogers: Yeah, but that was always the case. I learned that from my parents, so I can’t take any credit for that. My dad was such a great example. He prioritized spending time with us. I used to run hunt tests and field trials. I don’t do that at all anymore because I don’t think my wife or my kids would enjoy going out there all day, every day. If they ever did, I’d do it again, but I want to do things that they want to do. I’ve been real lucky that they want to do things I like to do. I don’t care if my kids become big hunters. That’d be great, but I’m going to get into whatever they want to get into.
Ramsey Russell: I’m going to spend a lot more time with them if they hunt, that’s what I told them. But I support them doing whatever they want to do. People have got to find themselves.
B.C. Rogers: So far, both of my kids like to go and have enjoyed it.
Ramsey Russell: Are they hunting themselves, now?
B.C. Rogers: Yes, but they don’t carry guns yet. This year, I bought Ivy a .410. Well, I bought both of them a .410 and I was thinking about taking on turkey hunting, but they really just weren’t quite ready. Not because they couldn’t sit still—I don’t care about that; if you mess up a turkey hunt, I don’t care—but because I don’t want to take them if it’s going to be a bad experience. I can take them out duck hunting, and it’s fun. We’re drinking hot chocolate and eating candy bars, and they think it’s the greatest thing in the world. Part of that is selfish, on my part. I don’t want to take them on a hard hunt.
Ramsey Russell: Don’t. I tell everybody: don’t do that, man. If you’re going to take your children—especially to a duck blind—you’ve got to make it about them. They’re going to get cold. They might get wet. You and I take for granted the dog shaking off and getting everything wet. Kids don’t, man. If they don’t enjoy it, they’re not going to want to go back.
B.C. Rogers: Absolutely, and that’s my goal. We have a couple of things we’ve done. Neither one of my kids have been in the dark yet. We are blessed to have this place where I can go back and get them pretty easily. Actually, Cypress Bend, my brother-in-law and my best friend’s place in Tallahatchie County, is that way, too. I can go back and get them. They’re almost ready. The worst things that ever happened to you on a hunt usually happened when you headed out there in the dark. So early on I decided that we’ll go and then we’ll come back and get them for the later stuff.
Ramsey Russell: I think that’s great, man.
B.C. Rogers: Little things like that. So far, it’s worked out. Like I told you, I don’t necessarily have a plan, but it’s working out.
Ramsey Russell: Sometimes that’s the best way. Get Ducks started completely by accident. We found ourselves, found our footing, and one thing led to another. Boy, the way you described all the doors getting shut and just kind of leading you through a rat maze to one that’s open— It’s worked out so far.
Life, Shows, and the Pandemic
“That’s always something we look forward to, so it’s been a real loss for us to not be able to spend time with people. We miss our interaction with our customers.”
B.C. Rogers: I’m going to circle back to something because I’m interested to hear what you have to say about this. You were talking about shows, and you and I have been in a lot of shows together. We have fun hanging out and doing that. With all the shows shut down this year, that’s been a real loss for me. Not financially, but spending time with my customers and meeting new people. I have so missed that.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah. I have, too. Really and truly, I’ve not yet missed any. Right now, Texas Trophy Hunters, down in Houston, Texas, is the one I go to. As far as I know, it’s open.
B.C. Rogers: It is. That’s the first week of July? Or last week of July?
Ramsey Russell: First week of August. Boy, I tell you, I went to the Great Outdoor Show—which, from what I’ve heard, is not near what it used to be, but it is still an incredible show—up in Minnesota. Look, I’ve got a lot of clients and got a lot of friends from Minnesota. I had no idea they were eat up with duck hunting. They may have more duck hunters than anybody on earth. It’s such a good and big and outdoor show, but it closed this year. We got a letter from them yesterday, and we just went ahead and rolled it into next year because I’m not going to miss that show. It’s too much fun. The people are so nice. The country is so beautiful.
B.C. Rogers: We lost a lot of them. The Ducks Unlimited show, the DUX Expo.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah. Wow. I was looking forward to that.
B.C. Rogers: I was so looking forward to that. We do the NRA show, which is huge. It’s seventy thousand people. That’s one of my favorite shows. Because we’re direct-to-consumer, I don’t go to Shot Show. I don’t do a lot of those industry-type shows, so the NRA convention is a time when I get to see a lot of people from the industry. That’s always something we look forward to, so it’s been a real loss for us to not be able to spend time with people. We miss our interaction with our customers.
Ramsey Russell: I do, too. I’m fingers crossed that the Canadian border opens this fall. Fingers crossed that the Safari Club International and Dallas Safari Club happen. I love the shows. I’ve got a lot of friends there, now, and I go as much for that. The more people I meet and the more contacts I make, it’s like Popeye and his spinach. That momentum gets me going, and it’s such a great energy. I talk for a living, but the stories I get to hear while I’m sitting in there— It’s just important to me.
B.C. Rogers: And, for me, the product feedback that I get to hear. Is it working? Should something be different? That’s where I hear it. Sometimes you’ll get that from social media, or somebody will send you an email, but most of the time somebody’s not going to tell you, “Hey, this zipper needs to be a little higher.” But if you get them face-to-face, they go, “I’ve been thinking, have you ever thought about moving this zipper over?” Man, that stuff is vital for us to be able to keep our products exactly the way our customers need it. People duck hunt and travel differently in different areas all over the country.
Ramsey Russell: Duck hunting and traveling are very subjective. What I think about a particular duck hunt is one thing. It’s what my clients think that matters.
B.C. Rogers: Right. The same translates to my gear. If you hunt completely differently in Oklahoma than you do in Greenwood, I want to know. Alright, so I didn’t know that you needed that pocket, but now that I know, I can put it on there. We’ve lost some of that interaction with not doing the shows. Everything’s canceled through the end of July, right now, but it does seem like we may be back out with everybody.
Ramsey Russell: I sure hope. I always use hand sanitizer because it’s flu season, cold season, and upper respiratory infections during the wintertime, but I just don’t know how I’m going to feel about wearing a mask and rubber gloves and all that mess. I can tell you right now that if convention were tomorrow, I’d be there.
B.C. Rogers: If they make me wear a mask, I’m happy to do it to be able to be there with my customers and friends. I’ll be there right now.
Ramsey Russell: I’ll do it if I have to, but I pray that’s not the case. I like smiles. I like to smile. I want to see your smile, man.
B.C. Rogers: I know. I don’t know how that’s going to work, but I’m going to make it work however I have to make it work. Also, I try to be respectful. We ran into each other the other day, and I told you this. I try to be respectful of what makes other people comfortable. I’m not really a political guy anyway, but I’m certainly not trying to make a political statement about any of that. If it makes somebody feel comfortable for me to be in the booth with latex gloves on, that’d be fine. I’ve done worse.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah. Of course. I just don’t want to see humanity get to that. I guess that’s what I’m saying.
B.C. Rogers: I don’t think that’s going to happen, Ramsey.
Ramsey Russell: I hope you’re right.
B.C. Rogers: I really don’t. I think that this thing, as tragic as it’s been, is going to pass. We’re going to get back to being able to spend time with our friends and our customers.
Finding the Silver Lining
“Do the productive thing I can do and try to not worry about the things that are out of my control.”
Ramsey Russell: I’ll tell you one thing on the upside I’ve noticed. For example, I saw you at the garden center the other day. The break’s been good. Everybody I’ve talked to has enjoyed just a little bit of that break. I have done some things that I might not ordinarily have done. We’re right in the middle of a website rebuild. It’s freaking old. It’s green shag carpet old, our website is. So we’re taking a break to get it done. Business hasn’t been dead. It hasn’t been flat. People are thinking, “Okay, I’m ready to get outside this house. I’m ready for the world to open back up.” The man who called yesterday told me that the US Hunt List— “Nuclear” was the word he used. He said the traffic is un-freaking believable, the people coming to US Hunt List. Which tells me that everybody’s ready to get out.
B.C. Rogers: Our sales have been good during that time period, and I attribute that to the fact that people are sitting at home. We’re direct-to-consumer. They can go to WrenAndIvy.com and look at all of our gear, they can contact me. Most of the time, I’m the person that emails you. I’ve seen the same thing. I think that there’s pent up desire to get out and get back in the woods. Of course, the poor eastern turkeys of Scott County— It’s going to take years for them to recover. Every one of my friends hunted every day. I got stuff off my honey-do list that, I am not exaggerating, had been on there for six years. For me, personally, this couldn’t have come at a better time. For the last five years, since I’ve started Wren & Ivy, I’ve been gone at least one week a month doing shows and traveling for manufacturing and different things. My kids are seven and five. I’ve eaten three meals a day with them since March 13, and here we are, what, June 3, June 4. I’ve spent an enormous amount of time with my kids. I think, honestly, that my children will look back at this pandemic as some of the best times of their life. I know I will.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah. I don’t disagree at all. Now, here’s something funny. Tiger King. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Some things you can’t take back.
B.C. Rogers: But you know you watched it.
Ramsey Russell: I watched it in the middle of the pandemic. Then the other thing about the pandemic was Garrett Walker, whose episode aired today. He said something about TikTok. I’m thinking, “What the heck is TikTok?”
B.C. Rogers: You don’t know what it is?
Ramsey Russell: Oh, I do now.
B.C. Rogers: Don’t click on it. You won’t turn it off.
Ramsey Russell: I’m like, “Holy—” I find myself laughing absurdly. Now, look, it’s a whole lot of girls doing the same little things, but if you keep scrolling, you find these nuggets. One thing I noticed was, holy cow, look at these freaking families spending time together. Mom and dad and kids. Like Andy Griffith.
B.C. Rogers: Absolutely. Well, look. You said Andy Griffith and reminded me. My neighborhood has been like Mayberry, man. The mamas and daddies and kids are all at home. They’re riding their bikes. Now, we were real safe about that. We told the kids, “Look, y’all stay six feet apart. If you’re riding your bikes, don’t touch each other.” Now, we’ve laxed off on that because we just didn’t know. In March, man, we didn’t know. They were talking about how it was going to kill two and half million people. It’s been like Mayberry to the point that there were so many kids in our neighborhood, playing in the yard and just around all the time, that I went and bought— You know the water coolers we used to carry on the back of our work trucks? I went and bought a water cooler with a cup dispenser on it, and I put a bag of ice in it every morning. They’re on my front porch drinking ice cold water. It’s like Mayberry. We’ll have a glass in the driveway in the afternoons. It has been great. I think we’ve all had to re-evaluate what was important and have been forced to see where we were wasting time. I know that I have done that in a big way. And wasting money, which is really the same thing.
Ramsey Russell: Boy, I can tell you this, that brings up a whole new point. Wow, the money, just the stupid money you’re spending when the world’s spinning. And you’re on that freaking conveyor belt, just running all the time. It’s helped me redefine some priorities of what is really important.
B.C. Rogers: It really has for me, too. I don’t know. I will be aware of it. We’ll go back to a lot of that. When you and I travel, what we eat is limited. Particularly if you’re at a trade show. They’ve got four things you can eat. But there will be things that I’m now aware of. Look, there have been so many blessings. I’m not making light of how terrible this has been for so many people, because I know that it has. But for a lot of people, there’s been a lot of silver lining to the cloud.
Ramsey Russell: It has been. I don’t disagree with that. You’ve got to look for the silver linings in everything that comes in life. It’s not all going to be good. You’ve got to find a silver lining. I found mine. I’m ready for the world to start spinning again. I’m ready for this force of nature to get its foot off the throat of a lot of my friends. I’m ready for that.
B.C. Rogers: That’s an interesting choice of words.
Ramsey Russell: Well, I know people— I don’t know very many people that are suffering of COVID, the disease, but the cure, “is hurting a lot of people.”
B.C. Rogers: One of my best friends lives in New Rochelle, New York, which you may know was the first outbreak, first hotspot. They were actually basically under martial law for a period of time. It’s been interesting to talk to her because her perspective and our perspective are very different. They’re scared. They live in a very different place than we do. We don’t live on top of each other. I don’t know a lot of people who’ve had it. I do know some. I don’t have any friends who have died of it. I have to remind myself, when I’m sitting on my front porch in Mayberry, that there are people in other places that have a very different reality.
Ramsey Russell: There are, and I pray for them, but the cure is what’s bothering me. The reaction and the politics and everything else is really hurting people. I wish I could wish it away. I’ve got some very close friends that are struggling right now, but we all are. We don’t know what’s going to happen when normal returns. We don’t know. But that’s just it. You just keep on kicking, man.
B.C. Rogers: What I try to find myself doing during this time—particularly early on, when we really didn’t know—is focusing on the things I can control. Trying to be like, “I know I can do this today, and this is productive.” Do the productive thing I can do and try to not worry about the things that are out of my control.
Ramsey Russell: That’s life and business right there, buddy. That’s all you can do.
B.C. Rogers: I don’t always succeed at that, but that’s what I’ve been trying to do. I’ve actually been better at that during this time. When the chips are really down, humanity steps up. I really do believe that.
Ramsey Russell: Growing up in the Deep South since day one— You want to make America great? Show me a crisis. The Cajun Navy comes to mind.
B.C. Rogers: Absolutely. Well, post-Katrina Mississippi comes to mind. Again, this is not a political thing, but Haley Barbour got on the news every day for 365 days. We didn’t fall apart as Mississippians. We bound together, and we always have.
Ramsey Russell: As a nation. We really did. Man, I’ll tell you what, you’re talking all around it. It’s the truth. All the mess that’s going on on TV right now— Politicians ain’t going to fix it. We’re going to fix it.
B.C. Rogers: They are fixing it. The last couple days have been way better than they were at the beginning, and I think that’s because people in those communities—we’re not having a lot of that problem here—are saying, “Hey, guys, we have a valid point we’re trying to make, and y’all are ruining it.” It’s getting better. I don’t mean to sound like Pollyanna, but it always will. I think it has over the last few days.
Ramsey Russell: People will make it better, not politicians. That’s what I see as a cure. For all that’s ailing on Fox News right now, or whatever channel you watch, it’s going to be us people communicating and committing ourselves to it being better.
B.C. Rogers: I’m not a big news watcher, but with us having to be so aware of the news during the last few months—Kim and I were just talking about this the other day—that’s really been a negative for us, because they’re going to hype everything up on the news. Now, we had to watch it during this time period because there’s so much changing, but I’m kind of ready to let it slow back down and not watch the news everyday. I think things get better when you let people just love each other.
Ramsey Russell: You ain’t lying. B.C., I appreciate you coming on, man. I love your product. I love your brand. I love what Wren & Ivy represents in the outdoor world. That’s what I like. I’ve said it a million times. I really believe the future of hunting lies in its past. Again, as you articulated so well, it’s not the stuff. It’s not the product. It’s what it represents. Your brand speaks to me. It really does.
B.C. Rogers: That’s nice of you to say. Thank you. It’s been a pleasure to be here. I think most people feel the way we do about that, when you get to talking to them. We all have more in common than we have different, and that needs to be focused on even more so in our hunting community where we’re on the same team. We need to find the ways that we agree, not the ways we disagree. We used to live in a world where we judged a person by the best things about them, not the worst. Now, we seem to live in a world where we find the worst thing about that person—or the worst thing about their brand, or the worst thing about whatever—and that’s what we focus on, not the best thing. I just don’t think that’s the way to be.
Ramsey Russell: No, it’s not. B.C., real quick, tell everybody listening how they can get in touch with you.
B.C. Rogers: Oh, sure. Well, we’re easy to find. So Wren & Ivy on all the social media platforms. I don’t do Twitter, but I don’t really think anything I have to say is important.
Ramsey Russell: Twitter’s a madhouse. I don’t blame you for not doing that
B.C. Rogers: On Instagram and Facebook, you can search Wren & Ivy brand, and then WrenAndIvy.com. You can email me directly at Info@WrenAndIvy.com
Ramsey Russell: WrenAndIvy.com, folks. Thank y’all for listening. I didn’t bring this up during the show because I didn’t want to throw him off during his interview, but, somehow or other, B.C. Rogers and I are related. I’m fixing to find out how. Thank y’all for listening. I’ll see you next time.