The Buck Commander: Adam LaRoche
It takes a special breed to love bow hunting–the sport where you spend 99 percent of the time questioning why you are uncomfortably sitting in a tree stand just to see a deer–but Adam LaRoche is the right person for the job. He is very even-keeled and rarely shows any emotions, traits that are imperative to watching paint dry and hunting, two things that seem synonymous at times. He speaks slowly with a southern drawl and a monotone voice–as if he was giving a lecture on quantum chemistry. He just doesn’t like talking about himself or his accomplishments on the baseball field–the numbers speak for themselves. That being said, he sure lights up the room when he talks about Buck Commander, the company he co-owns with a few talented baseball players: Chipper Jones, Ryan Langerhans, Tom Martin, Matt Duff and Duck Commander’s Willie Robertson.
”It is our hobby,” LaRoche said, “but it is also a pretty serious passion.”
Serious enough that LaRoche made sure the rest of the Buck Commander team was as committed as he is. He persuaded the group–cameraman included–to get the brand logo tattooed somewhere on their body while they were all in Las Vegas together… proof what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas.
It is tough to determine if Adam LaRoche is a hunter who plays baseball or a baseball player that hunts. He does both equally well and partakes in one almost as often as the other. He has been plying his passion since he was a little kid but the wheels didn’t get turning on the Buck Commander until 2004.
LaRoche lost his lucky Duck Commander hat, nothing about that actual hat made it lucky but he needed a replacement. He couldn’t find the hat online so he called the one business number they listed on the Duck Commander web site. He envisioned he would be calling some immaculate headquarters with gold phones and airline-long wait times. Well, he didn’t quite envision the gold phones, but he expected a secretary to answer the phone.
“They are the world famous Duckmen,” he said.
Much to his surprise, he was greeted by Jase Robertson, one of the Duckmen. The number was Jase’s house number. Any business number that is the house number tells you one of two things: a) the business isn’t doing well or b) their No. 1 goal is customer service. Let’s just assume they love their customers.
“I told him I played baseball for the Atlanta Braves,” said LaRoche, retelling the story. “He was like, ‘Yeah, I am sure you do. I have never heard of Adam LaRoche.’ I was a rookie then. He said they didn’t make the hat anymore but thought he had one in his closest.”
Sure enough, Jase sent LaRoche one of his used, dirty hats with sweat stains and hair still attached. What started with a lost hat, quickly turned into a friendship that led to an idea and finally a TV show on the Outdoor Channel.
“Wow, that was seven years ago. Now we are making a show, DVDs and a few pretty cool products.”
And they are shooting some pretty big deer, the type of deer that would be the wrestling hybrid of Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant.
“We want to get across the point that we hunt some really good farms,” LaRoche said. So they aren’t tied up or slipped a little HGH?
“People have no idea,” he said. “The days that go by without seeing deer… There aren’t enough minutes to show every miserable hunt so you end up seeing the good ones.” Thank you for sparing us the monotony of hunting.
Tyler Clippard often talks about the similarities between golf and baseball–it turns out that baseball can be used as a metaphor for just about anything in life as long it requires patience, endurance and a little bit of adversity. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Adam LaRoche sees a few similarities between bow hunting and baseball.
“I think it is all about being competitive,” LaRoche said who spends the majority of his offseason bow hunting–one of the more arduous and time consuming styles of hunting. “It is a very passionate, grueling and relentless sport. You can go out for a month straight and never draw the bow back. You have to have it in you. It is the same in baseball when you play seven days a week–if there isn’t something driving you deep down, then you aren’t going to make it. We come across guys all the time in the Minors that have all the talent in the world but they don’t want it bad enough. It is the same thing in hunting… it can be a real pain sometimes.”
Yogi Berra is known for his Yogisms and in the 2006 Aflac commercial he says, “If you don’t have it, that’s why you need it.” If you haven’t seen the Buck Commander, that’s why you need to. If you like baseball, you’ll like the show. If you like deer hunting, you’ll love it. If you like deer–especially trophy bucks–you will salivate like Pavlov’s dog during it. If you don’t like any of those three things… why are you reading this blog?