Jake Latendresse talks about some of his adventures the past couple of weeks in the opening. Then, Ramsey Russell, Josh Webb, and Rocky Leflore finish the story of the birth of GetDucks.com. What does a brand mean? What sacrifices does a man make to start a business? What is the final straw for Ramsey to jump in head first into GetDucks?
Life Adventures: Saving Horses and Run-ins with Grizzlies
Rocky Leflore: Welcome to the End of the Line Podcast, I am Rocky Leflore in the Duck South studios and on the line with me today
Jake Latendresse. Jake, listen we have a surprise story on the End of the Line Podcast is coming up in the next couple of weeks and we stayed up, Jake and I were up late the other night recording with this gentleman. Man, I’m going to tell you something I suffered yesterday –
Jake Latendresse: Because of the lack of sleep?
Rocky Leflore: Yeah. I’m not 20 or even 30 anymore, staying up till 1AM, I really felt like an old man yesterday. Grouchy, I was up at 5:30 and I just felt like man, I’m going to go home and take a nap all day.
Jake Latendresse: I hear you. I think as we get older, you come to realize you don’t even have to drink alcohol to have a hangover, you just have to stay up late. Takes two days to get over it.
Rocky Leflore: We’re coming up in just a minute. We’ve got part 2 of the founding of Get Ducks with Ramsey Russell. So, stay tuned for that in just a few minutes, but Jake this story that you and I have been recording and I’m not going to let it out yet of who it is, but it’s some good stuff, isn’t it?
Jake Latendresse: Yes. It’s about life, all these stories since we started to climb and carried things out of that, the human interest stories are really compelling because it’s really about life and how the outdoors healed – how the outdoors saved lives basically. And I think when you get to that level of profoundness then you really grab people because everyone can relate to it. I mean everybody’s got problems, right?
Rocky Leflore: Oh yeah. Got to ask you this, because you and I have not – we’ve talked about this, but we hadn’t been on the air where we could talk about it. All right, so your 1 year anniversary with breaking your leg happened on August the 9th correct? Or I have that wrong?
Jake Latendresse: August 7th.
Rocky Leflore: 7th. Knew this was 7th, 8 and 9th, but I thought it was the 9th but you were actually in British Columbia and at the same time filming the Ram hunt up there, right?
Jake Latendresse: I was actually up in the Yukon –
Rocky Leflore: Yukon?
Jake Latendresse: Not too far from the British but the town that I was in is the same town a year later, Whitehorse, Yukon. So, I broke my leg last year in 2017. When I got to the clinic in Dease Lake in British Colombia, I got my x-rays and revealed what damage I had done to my leg. I had to catch a ride up to Whitehorse, Yukon because that was the nearest airport that could get me back to the States. And so fast forward to this year, 365 days later, I flew into Whitehorse to film a Yukon stone sheep hunt with the same client. It’s probably about a 3 or 4 hour plane ride from Whitehorse into where we were last year. So, we were very similar circumstances.
Rocky Leflore: When you flew back in there, do you have those moments where it’s almost movie-esque? Where you kind of think about it a moment, you look down at your leg and you go back a year?
Jake Latendresse: Oh yeah. There are things like driving down the road, and in Whitehorse, remembering being in a cab or even in the back of the pickup that I rode to Whitehorse in. Driving by the hotel or some of the murals that are painted on some of the walls in downtown Whitehorse, and remembering all that. And then even going to the airport on my way out of Whitehorse, thinking man, last time I was here, I was in a wheelchair with a broken leg, heading home and feeling lucky that I didn’t get hurt worse than I did, and yes, all those things for sure. But I think in a way – don’t take this the wrong way anyone listening because I’m not comparing apples to apples here. But I think in a personal private kind of way, that’s one form of PTSD, where when you witness something or you go through an experience, you can’t shake it. When you show up to something, some familiar ground, or if you see something that reminds you of some trauma that you experienced in life, and then you relive that in your mind. I think that’s really what defines the origin and the roots of PTSD. Would you not agree?
Rocky Leflore: Oh heck, yeah. And the thing about it is, I don’t know how deep you want to go into this story. But while you’re on this trip, you all have another issue with the horse. Now, I don’t – like I said, you don’t have to go in depth with that. But I’m sure man, when that horse, you had those issues with that horse, it just hits you. The way it hit you.
Jake Latendresse: Well, there’s instinct that kicked in because there was a woman on this trip – my client’s friend was with us on this trip and she was on a horse. She didn’t have a lot of horseback experience, especially in the mountains, so when we got to this bog down close to our base camp, we had run into – what happened in a synopsis was one of the horses died at our base camp and we couldn’t move it. It’s just too heavy and it’s just one of those situations; you can’t teach a quarter horse or a saddle horse how to pull something like that on a dime. So, seven grizzly bears showed up and we’re moving in, they were circling the wagons so to speak, moving in on this dead horse. So, we had to move our base camp across the lake which was, whatever, a 10 minute horseback ride around the lake. We got into this bog and one of the horses went down to its belly in mud, and started to panic, and freak out. You know what happens, that’s the same kind of situation that happened to me when I broke my leg, when one horse freaks out, they all freak out because they’re herd animals. So, the other horses started freaking out. I’m actually on the ground, walking a chain of horses – pack horses – and one saddle horse that the lady was on when everybody stopped, all the horse’s ears pinned back and this horse was freaking out, I thought we were going to have to shoot this horse because we thought he had broken his legs in this mud trying to get out. He was laying on his side and my first reaction, based on what happened last year, was I looked at May, this lady and I said, get off the horse right now, get away as far away from these horses you can. Go up onto that hill and get on dry ground, and just sit there and wait for us. Because the consequences are if you stay on the horse, you’re not even thinking, you’re just thinking oh my God, how am I going to hold on tighter, or you get nervous and the horse senses that intensity, and they start freaking out more, it all feeds on itself. So the best thing you can do while everybody’s relatively calm is get off and let the horses think on their own and do whatever they’re going to do on their own, and not get in their way because you can’t stop a horse when they panic.
Rocky Leflore: No, not at all. But yeah, you got the horse out of the mug, right?
Jake Latendresse: We did. He laid down, his feet were still in the mud, he was up to his belly in the mud, and he laid his head over, that’s when we thought oh my goodness, this is getting worse. But we gave him time to rest, and he caught his breath, and came to his senses, and then we literally grabbed his range and just started pulling like trying to winch him out of there with human horsepower. He finally got one leg out and was able to get leverage on to that one leg to get his other front foot out. When he did, then he could put weight on the front two feet and got his back legs out. “Boom,” luckily we were 10 yards from dry ground. So, he got himself up out of that quicksand and everything was back to normal. But the funny thing was like, we get out of this mess, all right man, let’s just get over here to this opening, and set up a base camp just so nothing else can happen. One of the lead horses went into a freaking wasp nest that was in the mud on the other side of where we were, and by the time I got to where that wasp nest was, those hornets were so mad. One of them flew over and landed on my throat, and literally stung me right in the freaking thorax in my throat. So, I’m sitting there thinking, oh man, the last thing I need is to have an allergic reaction occur in my throat and then not be able to breathe. So that’s what I was focused on, like when do I pull the epipen out, or how do I monitor this to know that I’m in trouble and I need to do something? Luckily nothing happened. I mean it went up on the outside and never swelled on the inside but I was really concerned about that at that moment.
Differences Between Elk and Sheep or Goat Hunting
That’s not always the case, but that’s in a nutshell how elk hunting goes in contrast to a sheep hunt or a goat hunt.
Rocky Leflore: Hey Jake, I want to ask you this. So many people who go hunt got to be in shape. Look, you’re great describing at something that you can visualize it through this podcast. Josh asked me after I left your house – I don’t know what he asked – but I said, man Jake freaking got in shape dude, he is cut up. And so that kind of brought me to this. To do what you do with all those sheep hunt, you’ve got to be really in shape, it’s not just elk hunting shape, it is big time in shape.
Jake Latendresse: Yeah, I think that mountain goats and mountain sheep is a completely different level of hunting. No matter where you are in the world, when you’re dealing with higher altitudes – which means there’s less oxygen you’re dealing with – I always say when I describe it, I say, you don’t understand how the wind’s different, the temperature is different, the air is different, the oxygen is different, the intensity of the sun is different. When you go up higher into the altitudes, when you get to 10,000ft, things change. You’re exposed to everything, elements, and you don’t have anything to hide behind. I mean you start using small rocks and small divots in the mountain on the downwind side to get out of the elements if you can, but there are times when the sun is directly above you. You can’t hide from the sun, the sun bakes you, so you have to get covered up and all those things. Yeah, that plays a part in being in physical condition because you get dehydrated in that kind of – you don’t realize how quickly you’re drying out because of that dry solar heat that exists up in the tops of those mountains. So not to mention the fact that you had to get there in the first place, and that typically means you had a long horseback ride in, then you had to park your horses at the base, and then you have to start up the mountain. You go up some gentle grassy slopes at the bottom, and the higher you get, the deeper it gets, and the rockier it gets, the less, stable footing you have. I mean, it’s very demanding and it’s a completely different planet than elk hunting. Elk hunting you can get away with not being in super good shape because, particularly as you get later into September, you’re listening for elk giggling. So you can go to a spot, riding your horses to a spot, and park your stuff there, and listen for elk. Then once you hear it out, then you make plans, and you figure out what’s the path of least resistance to that bull, or that herd of elk, and to stay above them because elk go down in the afternoon and feed during the night, and then they move up during morning to go back to their bedding ground, that’s just how it works. And so you try to get on top of them and stay on top, and you can usually ride horses to the top. But then when you have to go silent, you get off your horses and you stay on top, and you stay on that elevation and walk to them. That’s not always the case, but that’s in a nutshell how elk hunting goes in contrast to a sheep hunt or a goat hunt.
Rocky Leflore: Well, I’ll ask you this before we close out, what’s more tranquil: sitting at the beach with hardly anybody there, put your feet right on the edge of the water listening to the waves, or sitting on the side of a mountain at 9000ft blasting for mountain goats, mountain sheep, whatever it may be.
Jake Latendresse: That’s actually a really great question. I don’t know man. I think they’re both equally as tranquil because if I was in that –
Rocky Leflore: I guess what I’m trying to get at, do you lose yourself sometimes when you’re sitting on the side of these mountains, just looking at the landscape around you, sitting on top of these mountains.
Jake Latendresse: I don’t know that I ever lose myself and just go blank because when I get into that kind of mentality, I’m thinking – I’m solving problems and thinking about some of the biggest issues in life or death. Really the main thought is how lucky, and I think it exists on the beach and it exists in the tops of the mountains as well. You just stop if you appreciate and understand where you are and how tranquil it actually is, then you appreciate the opportunity that you have to be there and how lucky you are at that moment to be where you are. That’s how I see it.
Rocky Leflore: Yeah, I mean that has got to be too. I know about the beach, but I don’t know about the side of the mountain on the hunt like that, but two very peaceful places.
Jake Latendresse: Very. Yeah, I think about my family a lot though. When I’m on the beach I may not think about my family as much. Well actually I don’t go to the beach without my family. But let’s say I did, I probably would think less about my family because I’m in a safe place when I’m up in the mountains, and there’s different elements that can get you up there. I think about my family all the time. Like man, I got to make sure that I don’t fall and hurt myself because I got three children and a beautiful wife to get home to and that’s my responsibility.
Rocky Leflore: Just the way you describe these things man, I just sit back and all. It’s amazing to listen to you talk about them because I can just like I’ve told you hundreds of times, whenever you’re telling me this stuff off the air, when you and I are talking man, you paint a picture. I know at least in my mind listening to you paint a great picture of it all. But anyway, Jake I enjoyed it, I really enjoyed it. But we’ve got to get to that interview with Ramsey now.
How GetDucks.com All Got Started
We were jumping. But we knew that if we stayed with it, and we put our heart into it, and we worked hard, we knew we had a chance.
Ramsey Russell: A real pivotal point for me was I needed to become – I realized at some point, I was selling a few hunts, I was doing a lot of consulting but I realized at some point that I needed to become relevant, I need to become findable, relevant. I have been working on this thing for five years, let’s say, and I needed to become relevant. Not that I was going to quit my job or anything, but I needed to become relevant.
Josh Webb: What was making that so obvious to you though? It’s just the growth of the internet or –
Ramsey Russell: The need to succeed. It was personal. I worked for the man over here, this is my pet project and it needed to succeed. I wanted it to succeed, I want it to be bigger. That’s just a little is never enough, it’s just always got to be a little bigger. This was getting on now maybe 6 years into it 7 years maybe, I lose my dates 5-6 years into it. I was carrying a Motorola Razor at that time, personal phone. At one time in late 2007, Jeff Cloths up in Alberta had decided he was going to sell his business, I asked him why? He said, if anybody wants to buy a business up here, let me know. I said, you don’t want this? He said, heck no, I don’t want it. Man, I’m a forester in a federal government and he said, well I’m selling it. I have just got a feeling about the economy. Now, remember Jeff’s very successful in business, very successful in business. Most successful outfitter I have ever met at the time, maybe since. He ran it like a business, he ran his hunt like a business, not like a duck hunt. But that Motorola Razor I had 15 or 20 telephone numbers filed under ad guy. Here’s what started happening in late 2007, early 2008: the card house of whatever that mortgage thing was started to fold. Stock market plummeted, times were tough. People were selling nice deer guns for $400 so they have money for Christmas. It was a tough time in the American economy. It’s the kind of time you’re thankful you got a government job. Okay, because times are tough, everything is folding, everything is going through tough times. And in the meantime, me, the unfindable guy trying to sell Argentina duck hunts, in Uruguay, and Alberta I am unfindable, yet I have got people calling me to sell me ads in major magazines, never happened before. After a period of time I’m wondering why are these people calling me? I put 2 and 2 together. Man, people were upside down their houses. Those kinds of clients that will, every 2 or 3 years, they have got $50-$100,000 built up in homeowner equity, especially when the real estate market was jumping like it was back then. They’d go and take a little loan against their equity and go on a family vacation or go on a hunting trip. The stock market looks good, spend a little interest in going on a hunting trip, things were good – middle class was going great. Well, all of a sudden it wasn’t. And expensive ducks hunts, international duck trips for most people, it’s a very expensive proposition. It’s equivalent sometimes to taking your family to Disney for 4 or 5 days. It’s an expensive luxury. And it started to dry up, my phone won’t ring at all to go anywhere, no big deal. I still had a full time job, it didn’t matter. One day I just, I was thinking about it. I said, I get it. The economy is hurting, people are spending money that they don’t have to spend or that they can’t spend. Hunting is a luxury item. My competition who they didn’t know I existed I can promise you that I was nobody, they aren’t spending mads because they’re starving. Now we’re sitting here looking at magazine ad sales guys that need fresh blood and they found Ramsey and probably many, many others.
Rocky Leflore: I remember those days.
Ramsey Russell: This is very pivotal. One day it dawned on me, this was my chance. If the American economy never come back, like they said it would not, didn’t matter, the money don’t matter. But if we did come back, I was going to make myself relevant. I’m suited up, I got pads on coat to put me and I’m ready to play. And now that was a conversation with my wife. That was the conversation with my wife. Because now we talked to a web guy, we talked to Ronnie Johnson, everybody knows him. Ronnie Johnson of the MS ducks left us way too soon. I called Ronnie, I said Ronnie I need to talk some brick and mortar, real web people, and he was just who I needed to go to. And we went met with him here in Jackson and I had no idea, thanks to my buddy Harden Philips, and my other friend Chris Campbell, I had no idea you could even think about spending that much money on a web page. I seriously have no idea. But at that time, Rocky, at that time when I went in, I was confident, I knew that I had a plan. I knew I was doing the right thing, I knew if this economy comes back and I get the right web page, and I get search engine optimized, and I do my hand right, I have got these great hunts I have been messing around with the last 5 or 6 years now. I’m going to be up there with everybody else, this is it. I went in there and I met with those guys and they sold me a content management system that was 8% of the world’s using, I didn’t know it, very archaic. But nonetheless, we spent the money, we wrote the check, we met with the creative, we met with them, their engineers started hammering away, it was a very complex website. Whereas the average hunting outfitter has 5 or 6 page views in his web page, we had to have 10 or 15 per hunt because of the way we structured our website. We spent a lot of money with the team down in Dallas, that as far as I’m concerned, with Albert Einstein search engine optimization. And they came in first and after we hammered it all out on the board, 15 people in the room yelling, sweating, drinking coffee and brainstorming, then the engineers came in and gave it life. Then the artist came in and scrawled all over, and that was the biggest waste of money I have ever done till today. A creative team up in Minnesota, and it just cost me a lot of money, look at their best pictures. So you know what I like? What I have got, I like the photos better. So that we kept that original background we had with the black and white photos on the back. And when I left that office that last day and I had signed that contract, I was walking on cloud nine. I knew I had done the best thing and it was probably a night or two later at 2 o’clock in the morning, my wife was sleeping next to me in bed, my kids are babies, they’re across the house sound asleep in the middle of the night. I’m sitting there staring at the fan blowing, thinking what in the world have I done? What was I thinking? What in the world possessed me to commit to that? God dang, heck, exceeding my annual bring-home in a year. What in the world was I thinking? I have lost my mind. I got so upset, guys, I walked to the bathroom, puked, and at that moment I knew right then, Ramsey, you’re all in. That’s when you know you’re all in. I am not backing up. You didn’t pull the trigger, bullet’s gone. You are committed and you’re in right at that moment I was in, I had no chance. I can remember growing up on Lake Ferguson and I learned how to swim back in the 70s. Yeah, I had swim lessons. At the end of the day, somebody threw you off a boat in the Lake Ferguson. But you know that scared me to death at the time but now I can swim like a fish. And that’s where I was at that moment in life; I had committed, and what I didn’t know, what I couldn’t understand, what I couldn’t conceive with all these people flying around with information around me, was that at the end of the day they built it, and it looked and it functioned, somebody had right to copy. Guess who that was? That was me. But after that money been written, that check cleared. And it took 5-6 months to get it to where it needed to be. So I start logging in, and typing, and building what turned out at one time to be 2300 Google index pages. I did it all and I couldn’t do it all on the government time and I couldn’t do it outside the world. I started working around the clock. Then in the fall, the phone would ring, time for good, the conservation easement were doing well. I had established myself as a reputable writer of baseline reports, and had built a template, and who can say no? I can’t say no. We all sleep in the grave, right? I was telling Rocky this story earlier, I got into a habit as I was building this web page, and things were starting to kick off a little at a time, to look at the time that GetDucks.com was launched and its present state more or less. It’s been rewritten, have been some changes, but kind of what it is for the first time there really wasn’t a page functioning selling, and doing it at such a state that it was. It was a Tad novel. If the average website is Max Free Wing catalogue, this was the Yellow Pages, and the Sears and Roebuck folded into one. This was a monstrosity of a website with videos, and web pages, and information and all the details. Not some of the details, all the details. Anybody with a calculator, a sharp pencil, that has been my mission since day one, you can read everything. Nothing’s omitted on our web page and I took great care in presenting it right with photo galleries, and video galleries, and links, and blogs, and just more and more content. And it was real interesting, there were still experiments with search engine, we’re still building and adding attachments. You can say we built the house, now we got to add rooms to it so to speak. What we started seeing was a massive influx of users. What the guys that can analyze the backend were saying was you had to – they said, we’ve never seen anything like it because unless your phone is ringing 200,000 times a year, what we can see by the visitation patterns is people are literally reading your website for entertainment value. They’re coming on and reading 3 or 4-5 pages, then they are coming back and reading 5 or 10 more pages, and they’re going through all the photo galleries, and they’re going through all the video, and it’s just people are living on your website, it’s nothing else and that’s a good place to be. Because all that traffic was helping our Google rankings; our new search model is helping our Google rankings. Everything was looking up, things were getting busy. Now I’ll tell you all this story. God bless Ramsey Russell to marry into a spectacular family. I am blessed with in-laws beyond anything. You hear all these in law joke, I can’t say that. I have got a finest family. They treat me like their own son. They’ve been good to me, good to my kids, good to my wife, I got a great wife. My dad in-law is a workaholic; a CPA, an accountant, and he loves to work. Some people like to collect stamps and some people like to duck hunt, this man like to work. He got a job very early with the federal government moved to Washington DC, raised his family up there, continued way on up into Health and Human Services. Retired 2 years earlier, they had offered an executive position but declined, he was tired of it because he had taught CPA review exams for 30 years simultaneous to his rise in the Federal government. He had also been a CPA tax preparer for 20 years at the same time during that time of his life. He was a self-taught auto mechanic; can make anything run and could fix anything in the house that needed done, he was just that guy. And as things got kind of big – and you’re talking to Ramsey Russell. I’m creative, I don’t do numbers very well. My wife had taken over the books and it started getting big enough, not big but big enough, she called her dad and said, “Could you come and help us set up the books?” I don’t know anything about account, let me tell you that. I’m like what can be the set of books we’re talking about a new book, new column, I don’t know. I stayed out of that conversation and that’s where I need to be in that kind of conversation. My wife is smart in that kind of stuff. And her daddy come to start setting up the book, they needed to come analyze stuff and run an algorithm, to do things for a week or more. One day I had next door entertainment with some friends hanging out and he called me over there, and call my wife in the room and said, “I need to talk to you all.” Sat us down like children and said, “Ramsey, I thought you just duck hunted, I had no idea,” he said, “this is impressive. I know you are not making money like they all make, but this is impressive, the growth structure, the pattern, the trends. This is something, I’m telling you. You all are into something here.” And he said, “I never thought I would tell the father of my grandchildren this but you and Anita need to start planning an exit from the US Federal government.” I said, “Really?” He said, “Not now, but the time is going to come Ramsey, it’s going to be crossroads. And you have got to have a plan, and you have got to be able to step off that point.” Yeah, Okay. Things are good, things are growing and I’ll tell you this Rocky, that was 15 years ago. We have grown every year since, steadily grown step at a time, a flight of stairs at a time, every year we grow. He was right. It got a little contentious at work, new supervisors and new programs, me going to shows forgetting I work for the Federal government because I’m all of a sudden selling duck hunts. Talked with real hunters, and growth was good, and business was good, and the phone for ringing, and I was busy still building. Still adding content, still getting things going at the web page, still working at Federal government job, still doing baseline reports. And I had a kind of system going, I was tireless, I was young. Any of the Gordon Gekkos, who was my lawyer at the time, different folks I was running around with. I will all tell you, if you’re dealing with Ramsey in those days, you turned off your phone at night because I had a legal pad pages deep of things to do. And I’m just going down the list. I’m adding it to the bottom of the list. I’m scratching off the top of the list as I get to it. I came up with, oh yeah, tell Gordon something at 3:30 in morning. Guess what? Gordon got an email, or a text, or I tried to call and leave a voicemail, and that’s just the way I had to be. I was working 7:30 to 5:30 with the Federal government, coming home maybe go to a baseball game, throw the pause, maybe take the kids fishing across street, then going to the war room, spending the night, phones weren’t ringing. I had time to work, clear my mind. The kids were playing in the den. The coffee pot would go off. I picked myself up a cup of coffee, take a shower, go to work. I would come home, maybe I would go back in the office, and get carried away the next night. Maybe I would go, Rocky, until I come home from work at the government and I go to my bed and I would lay down and die, I just died. And there were weeks when it hit a fever pitch, there were weeks I wasn’t sleeping. I wasn’t sleeping 3 or 4 nights a week. I was just going baby, I was wide open, I was going to own this, I was going to win, I was going to get this content written. It never sleeps and I wasn’t going to sleep because my competitors and other people in this world were working, they had staffs, I didn’t. I’m going to work. I don’t got money but I got time to work. I took ownership of it until one morning the coffee pot went off – and we had this coffee pot at the time my mother had given us put real beans on the top. When the timer went off, it started to grind them and start making coffee. Let me tell you what, that wakes the dead. When that grinder went off – and that was my alarm clock in the morning – 5:30 trying to find a stopping place on the computer, pour a cup of coffee. Maybe watch the 5:30 news, take a shower, go to work, but before I could find a stopping place my wife had gotten up – she won’t get up at 5:30, guys. She got up at 5:30 then she comes over with 2 cups of coffee and she said, “I need to talk to you.” I said, “Yeah.” She said look at me we need to talk. I looked over at her and she was serious – and you all are married – everybody’s listening is married. I mean, there’s times when my wife won’t talk, there’s times she wants to talk and this was one of them time and my mouth got dry. I mean, this is serious, she’s got cancer, or the kids okay? Is she divorcing me? I mean, seriously man. I’m just like, what the heck? She turned around knee to knee with me. I turn around, drank and swallowed coffee real quick, “Okay, well what is it?” “I’m going to ask you a question and I want the truth.” Okay, you know what the question was? She says, “Are you on drugs?” That was her serious question. Are you on drugs? And I said, “What do you mean? Well, what the heck are you talking about?” She goes, “Ramsey, you haven’t been to bed in 4 straight nights. You’re 42-43 years old” whatever I was at the time, she said, “You have got young kids, you have got a job, we have got this thing going over here.” I had taken a job as an editor of a magazine. I had 3 or 4 baseline reports to write. I had a web page to build, sales to administer, clients to administer, and I hadn’t been to bed. She said, “You can’t do this, you cannot do this. You can’t, you’ll die. Nobody can go forever, like you’re going, nobody.” I said, “I’m not on drugs, I’m on adrenaline, and coffee or nicotine, and I’m on adrenaline. I got this work to do, I packed my foot high pile of papers, I got this working to do.” She said, “Look, here’s the deal. I support you, I will follow you, your decision is final, and I’m happy with whichever direction you go but you’ve got to make a decision. You need to become a Federal government employee or we are going to GetDucks.com full time.” She said, “The choice is yours.” And that was a very sobering conversation, guys, that was a real sobering conversation. I thought about that a few days and it wasn’t too long, couple days after that I got the role as a government supervisor and I knew where I want to be. I knew where my heart was then, I knew where my focus was, I knew where I wanted to be. I made the emotional commitment that when the time came, and it was coming, I was running out of government leave. The crossroads was bearing on me, there’s light at the end of the tunnel, and it was a big train coming to run me over here quick. It was maybe a month after that. I knocked on the supervisor’s door and said, “I’m out of here.” What do you mean? I said, “No, I quit. What do you need? I’m just telling you. Today’s Friday, 2 Fridays from now that office is going to be cleaned out and I am not coming back. What do you need from me to exit?” And that was it I made up my mind. God, I’m going to tell you something, we weren’t making money but we weren’t making a living, I should say. We had income, it was growing, we weren’t making a living. It was major – I envisioned us holding hands on a high cliff overlooking the ocean and jumping into the black night not knowing what was below with rocks, shallow water, deep water, waves, sharks. We were jumping. But we knew that if we stayed with it, and we put our heart into it, and we worked hard, we knew we had a chance. We had written that web page, we had to do it. We didn’t have a choice but to succeed. And we did, we jumped off, and coming home that day after telling the supervisor I was quitting, it’s like I had swallowed liquid sunshine. I felt like the weight of the world was off of me. And I went from – I tell people all the time, people say, oh I got this job, I work 40 hours, 50 hours. Great, I remember working part time, I remember those good old days working part time, 40 hours a week. We don’t work like that anymore. We work 7, 8 days – and I know anybody listening, I know you and Josh, I know everybody, I know Jake. I get texting with Jake at 4:30 his time in the mornings, talking business, talking shop. I know when you’re a business owner, you work. There’s no quitting time. You work, when the phone rings you answer all the time. This is our livelihood, this is our commitment to our clients. When you say the word brand, what is your brand? I think that’s a very misinterpreted word because brand is not logo, brand is not the color scheme of your web page, brand is your promise to your clients. That’s what your brand is. It is your promise to your clients. Now, Rocky, along this whole convoluted process, I would like to say I did it but I didn’t. I did it with help from people like Harden, from people like Chris, from people like the client off the web page, from people like Johnny McKinnon who is a long time buddy of mine, who was sitting around the office one day his office, we started talking logos. And we came up with the idea, and I went to camp, my camp and took a picture of a mount I had, of a dead mount from Uruguay. Two Brazilian ducks and a silver teal – Johnny gave it to us- and turned it into a very nice logo that we stuck with forever. My lawyer, not lawyers plural, came off the MS Ducks. My doctors had come off the MS Ducks, my insurance paper off MS Ducks, my dentists are off MS Ducks, everybody in my world’s off MS ducks. Because remember what I told you, my belief is businesses is relationships. I don’t care what business you’re in, you’re in the people business first. And that’s kind of how I approach life. The people I do business with, I like to have relationships with my bankers off of MS Ducks. I like to have relationships with my people in my life, the people I can trust and that’s just kind of goes hand in hand. The MS Ducks, the Duck South experience, that local support group, those friendships, those insights were so critical to helping us began to build GetDucks.com. That’s about a 20 minute answer.
The Uniqueness of Duck Hunting Experiences
They have different needs, they have different ways to be treated, they have different objectives, they have different itineraries, they have different travel experiences.
Rocky Leflore: Well, I think that is a great stopping point for this week because I know next week we’re going to jump in feet first into – I want to talk about some stories next week, and like I told you, now that we’ve got the history out of the way I want to talk about that learning process that you went through.
Ramsey Russell: It was a learning process Rocky. And it still is a learning process. You never quit learning, you never quit. Remember this you always evolve. But here’s the deal, and I don’t think that my job set is any different than yours. I don’t think it’s any different than Josh’s in real estate. I don’t think it’s any different than Jake’s. We’re dealing with people and people are different. And when you start talking duck hunts, I said this a million times, people that buy duck hunts, especially an international duck hunt, it’s a far more personal commitment than buying a $50,000 Silverado pickup truck, I promise you it is. They have different needs, they have different ways to be treated, they have different objectives, they have different itineraries, they have different travel experiences. I mean some have never been out of their home county, some have travelled all over the world. And so in a lot of ways, each booking – it’s not like selling a pair of blue jeans at Target – each booking, each client, is a situation into themselves. And that that makes it very personal. And it demands your full-time attention. I’m not in the industry, industry is retail, my job description is this business, there are others that do what I do. There are other very good ones, I admit but the business is proliferate with part timers. Taxidermists do this, asphalt contractor to do this, whatever. Business owners that want to do this, lawyers who want to do this, for some reason they want to do it. I can remember the turning point was me leaving Federal government because I didn’t know it at that time, but Rocky, when you book a trip, you deserve that person’s full time attention. Not his part time attention, not when he’s in government meetings, not when he’s on phone assault, nobody doing something else. You deserve his full time attention. And it was when we began to give our business venture our full time, 90 hour a week attention that things started happening. Well, it started turning and the client experience began to improve the reputation began to build. That is a good stopping point.
Rocky Leflore: It’s been a –
Ramsey Russell: I woke you up when I asked if you’re still there.
Rocky Leflore: No. I was listening, I was waiting for you to jump back in it, fully engaged. But anyway –
Ramsey Russell: It takes commitment. But anyway, Rocky I appreciate you all’s time, I appreciate everybody listening, whoever still is.
Rocky Leflore: Yeah, it was a great one. I don’t think out of all these episodes that we’ve done that we’ve really talked in that detail about the history of Get Ducks. And I had a lot of people ask me, hey, when are you going to cover that? How did it all that started? What were the lessons learned to evolve into one of the biggest duck hunting businesses in the world? And I think that we’ll get into that other part next week but for tonight, Ramsey, thank you again. Josh, thank you. We want to thank all of you that listened to this edition of the End of The Line Podcast powered by ducksouth.com.