If you would have told me a year ago that I would be running a business making products for waterfowl hunters, I would have called you crazy. This whole adventure started with a gift from a family member. That gift was a paracord survival bracelet. I couldn’t get over how easy it looked to make, so I got my hands on some 550 paracord and tried it out for myself. After that, I started thinking about how much I would like to have a lanyard for all my calls.
It would make a great conversation piece in the duck blind on a slow morning hunt, and I could make it the way I wanted it. Needless to say, an addiction was created. I had a friend whose lanyard consisted of one line and two loops at the bottom. I thought he could use a new lanyard that would be more comfortable, and hold his calls better. I got to work on it, and after a couple of hours, it was ready to go.
That got me thinking, could there be a demand for something like this? I did a little research and talked with a few other friends, and decided this could really turn into something. I bought a few different colors of paracord and started thinking about some type of signature design. I wanted something durable, simple, affordable, yet effective for the average everyday hunter.
Once I figured out my design, it was off to the races. By this time, I had made myself another lanyard to test the new design. I wanted something that would keep my calls higher up and out of the water, but still low enough to be out of the way when taking a shot.
My next step was to make sure my calls were secure. Too many times I have seen people missing half of a call because they only have one loop holding it. I wanted to have a loop on the insert as well as the barrel, just in case, the call happens to come apart. After multiple trips, I couldn’t be happier with the product I had made. Of course, I wanted to see what kind of response it would get, so I posted a picture of it online. Shortly after I had multiple people asking me how much to make them one.
Now things are starting to get interesting. I thought to myself, this is going to turn into a business. But I didn’t even have a name. I started thinking of something to call this new venture. After thinking of a few ridiculous names, I was running out of ideas. My Labrador retriever named Ackley walked up to me and laid his head on my leg, and started wagging his tail. Obviously, he wanted to go outside and fetch a bumper, but at that moment the lightbulb in my head lit up, and Ackley Outdoors was born.
I quickly realized that I couldn’t stop at just making lanyards. I needed to expand my product line. What else could a duck hunter use besides a lanyard? Something to carry out harvested birds from the hunt of course. It was always easy to put the ducks into the decoy bag to haul them out, but it was a pain to constantly clean the blood off of decoys after every trip. Not to mention the extra strain on my back from the extra weight. I came up with something simple, but still very effective just like my lanyard. It has a wide surface around the neck to distribute weight evenly, without excessive neck strain. As well as eight drops so there is no shortage of places to hold ducks.
Now my mind is really working. What’s next on my list of products to offer? How about a gun sling? 90% of the hunters I know have a sling on their shotgun. Why not? It gives you the opportunity to carry your gun and keeps your hands free for other things. Just like the lanyard and duck tote, it had to be comfortable, effective, and simple. I decided to make a wide surface sling for comfort, with an adjustable nylon strap so you can set it to the proper length for whatever you put it on.
This has definitely been a wild and rewarding ride that is far from hitting a plateau. The Ackley Outdoors website is close to being ready to launch, and I couldn’t be happier! With the help and support from family and friends, this will continue to grow, and I will be able to keep making quality products for a reasonable price.
You can check out Ackley Outdoors for all of your lanyard needs here: https://ackleyoutdoors.com/