In a far off land long, long ago [Kentucky, 2015] a few friends pulled into our hunt camp after a warm Sepember opening day hunt. These lads have since become addicted to our craft, but at the time their experience would optimistically be referred to as stump-sitting. Long story short, they cruised through the front porch door with a 12 pack of b...soda, and asked "y'all catch any deers?". Let me set the record straight- we have all heard it 100 times, but this was deer camp, and they weren't gonna get away with it... So, it became the joke of opening weekend. Throughout the remainder of the season, we were all asked more than once, and it got funnier and funnier. It became an inside joke, text message hashtag, and weekend centerpiece.
Fast forward to opening weekend 2016. Those same guys were joining us again, this time prepared with proper terminology and bows in hand. I too was prepared. In the week leading up to the hunt, I had 6 foam trucker hats made with CATCHIN' DEERS on the front. There was no fancy design process; I walked into Rachel's office and said "hey, I need 6 foam trucker hats with CATCHIN' DEERS written on them". She questioned the spelling, and said, "ok, I'll get it done". When she sent me the mock ups, I approved them in 2 seconds flat. They were just a joke after all.
These hats were obscenely expensive because we only wanted 6, and needed the manufacturer to overnight them to the screen printer, who slapped me with rush charges, and fees for breaking minimum order quantities.
I didn't care- they were perfect.
On the way up to Kentucky, hats in hand, the 3 of us in the truck; Mike, Austin and I, agreed that if this was indeed the greatest hat we had ever seen, then there have to be others out there that would agree. Google searches confirmed, that this was a widespread phony phrasing that no one was talking about. We bought the web domain and locked up the Facebook page and Instagram handle from the truck.
The hats were a hit. The guys loved them and CATCHIN' DEERS was the centrepiece of our opening weekend once again. That was not at all surprising. It was our inside joke; of course the guys loved em. What surprised us was what happened next. Everywhere we went including malls, airports and Banana Pudding Festivals (thats a real thing), people would approach us in droves asking us where we got our hats. Fellow hunters identified deeply with the terrible terminology.
So, we ordered 200 hats and came up with an idea to spread the word. We would make a video. It needed to be funny to stay true to what the hats represented to us, but I didn't really have a whole lot of interest in being the one in the video, so when I got home to Canada, I tried to delegate to the guys in Nashville. We were running out of time (this was October already), and they were all busy, so I wrote a script and called some buddies that had just left their jobs in the outdoor industry with bow manufacturers and had them help me with the filming and production.
Those 2 days of filming our 'brand anthem' were an absolute blast. We were optimistic that we were creating something worth watching, but didn't really have any expectations. We just had fun.
I launched the CATCHIN' DEERS Facebook page and website, and added the video on November 1st, 2016 with zero followers and posted it to my personal Facebook page, and asked friends to share it. I sent a few texts and asked others to do the same. I remember sitting on the couch just minutes after it launched and it had 1000 views. This thing is gonna get '10,000 views today!' I thought to myself. Every time I refreshed the browser it had more shares and 100 new views, then 1000 new views and climbing fast. By the time I went to bed that night it was over 300,000 and hit 1million in the first few days.
Those first 200 hats went fast, so we made increasingly more hats, and by the time they arrived they would be sold out again. We were in perpetual backorder until Christmas. Customers were asking for shirts, more hats, camo and women's items.
We have learned a lot since then, and whether we become a large business or sell foam trucker hats to our friends, one thing will always remain the main thing- CATCHIN' DEERS was an inside joke that brought a group of guys together at the hunt camp over a few laughs. The videos, memes and apparel we make continues to have this vision in mind;
We are a brand that brings people together by celebrating the lighter side of hunting.
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