Did you know that Groove Life makes rings for duck hunters?
Not only that, but we have a super awesome partnership with the Duck Dynasty legends themselves to bring you Duck Commander, Fin Commander and Buck Commander silicone rings to keep your hands safe while you’re hunting and fishing.
We recently called up Justin Martin, General Manager at Duck Commander and one of the most positive and hardworking folks we’ve ever met. Hold on to your duck calls because you’re about to get some duck hunting tips and fun facts that brought Justin to where he is today!
How did Justin Martin first meet the Robertsons from Duck Dynasty?
“I was born and raised in a hunting family,” Justin says. “My parents worked a lot...my grandparents were retired so they kept me a lot of the time. They were big hunters and fishermen. I grew up essentially in the outdoors because all of our free time was spent hunting and fishing. I started as a deer hunter. That’s what my grandparents did. So when I got my first taste of duck hunting at 12-years-old I was like ‘Woah, now this is way more fun.’”
Justin Martin first met the Robertson family when he was in college. He was working at a local sporting goods store and it didn’t take long for his hard work ethic to catch the attention of the local celebrities. Justin says, “Growing up here we knew who the Duck Commander people were, kinda local legends, so in my mind I knew how busy they must have been so I tried to make life easy on them. When I’d get stuff in I’d let them know, and if I could I’d take it to them so [Willie] wouldn’t have to drop what he was doing. We became friends through that and he invited me over to play cards at his house one night. From there, we just kinda struck up a friendship. We started playing cards just about every Friday night and then we started playing golf together and the next thing I knew, I was working here.
“They’re great. You couldn’t find a better group of folks to work for as far as strong Christian example that use their platform for something other than themselves. It’s a really cool bunch to watch and learn and grow from, that’s for sure.”
Justin Martin talks Duck Hunting
Justin didn’t start out duck hunting, but once he gave it a try ducks became his first passion in the outdoors.
“The ducks still have my heart,” Justin says. “I think it’s kinda the nerd side in me that drives it the most, the fact that these animals instinctively migrate so much for survival. And seeing all of it work together - the ducks, the land, the hunters - everything works together to ensure the survival of the ducks. That’s a cool story in my mind.
“I like calling ducks, I like watching them respond… I love watching things fly. If I could ever have one superpower, give me the ability of flight. I just think that’s one of the coolest things ever. So watching them make that journey here and back year after year is a fascinating deal. And, I love that they’re fantastic table fare. They don’t go wasted around here, that’s for sure. They are appreciated for their beauty, for their table fare, and the camaraderie of it all. Generally, you have a group of friends that you duck hunt with most of the time. It gives you 2-4 hours a morning to make new friends and invest in people’s lives.”
Justin Martin’s advice for new duck hunters
Justin shared that duck hunting doesn’t start out simple. There’s a steep learning curve, but once you figure it out, it’s way wort the effort. He says,“It goes from super frustrating to one of the most fun things you can do once you figure it out. But I’d be lying if I said it was easy.”
1. Tag along with an experienced duck hunter.
“My advice is find somebody who does it already and ask to tag along. The worst thing they’re going to tell you is no. They aren’t going to say to come anytime you want to but most of them will let you come along once or twice and if you can get a little network of those, then you can go quite often. Those guys have generally been doing it longer than you.
2. Don’t take someone else’s favorite spot.
“When somebody takes you duck hunting, also have the courtesy to not go back to where they took you. That’s an unwritten rule amongst duck hunters. People have their spots and that’s their spot. Now, if they tell you that you can go, that’s a different story but you don’t ever just go on a whim because if you do and then they show up with a different group, you won’t ever go with them again.”
3. At first, just take it all in.
“When you go, put your phone up. Don’t get your phone out. Don’t mark spots where you are. Just take it all in. Don’t blow a duck call, let them do all the stuff, you just sit back and take it all in. That way when you go by yourself or with another buddy who may not have any experience either, you can start putting the pieces of the puzzle together. But don’t be afraid to ask questions.”
Why are silicone Groove Rings important for outdoorsmen?
Justin shared that The Groove Ring is an important tool for every outdoorsman and outdoorswoman.
He says, “The Groove Ring is so much safer for us as outdoorsmen. That’s always the point that I try to drive home to people. If you’ve never been hanging a deer stand and got your finger in a bind, you don’t really know that, you can’t appreciate it. But for those of us that have, it’ll make you stop and think for a minute. It’s a safety thing that most people don’t even realize until they see their friend that had their finger ripped off because of [a metal ring].
“I think the safety aspect doesn’t get quite the full respect that it deserves from the consumer standpoint. I think a lot of people look at it like ‘it’s a lot cheaper than losing my wedding band’ but it’s also a lot safer. So, that’s always my point that I try to hammer home.”
Justin Martin hasn’t always had a silicone ring, so for the first few years of his marriage he had to leave his wedding ring at home while hunting. He says, “When I was new in marriage, the silicone rings hadn’t really come out. The ring that I got married with is actually my grandfather’s wedding band. I would leave my wedding ring at home because I’m around water all the time and I didn’t want to lose it. Now, I can wear a Groove Ring and I don’t have to worry.
“Most importantly, if I get in a bind and something on my finger, my finger’s not going to rip off. Being able to show your love and your commitment to your wife is incredible. And don’t let the wives fool ya, they love seeing their husbands wearing their wedding bands and not having to leave them at home because they’re scared of losing them.”
Justin credits hard work and positivity for his success.
“I’ve done a lot,” Justin says. “I’ve had a lot thrown in my way and I think it’s that positive attitude that helps you navigate that. Where a lot of people get overwhelmed, I don’t let life overwhelm me. I just do what I can and know that at the end of the day if I do my best, it’s good enough. And I’m okay with that. I’m okay with looking back in the mirror and saying ‘You did your best.’
“The one thing you don’t ever have to worry about getting out of me is effort. I’ll give you the effort. It may be misguided effort but it will be effort nonetheless. I’ll give you 110% each and every day.”
Justin shared that his parents showed him by example how to work hard and stay motivated. He says, “I think that was taught to me by my parents who were both incredibly hard workers. My dad worked pipeline construction up until I started school and then when I started school - because I was the youngest - my mom was like ‘nope, you’re going to be a part of these kids lives.’ He took a job at the mill here in town and the man never said no to overtime. I watched him just work his tail off to provide for us.
“At the same time my mother with no college education became the senior vice-president of a pretty large credit union here in north Louisiana. She worked her way up from doing every job, and she used to tell me, ‘make them wonder what they would do if you’re not there tomorrow.’ I’ve lived my work life through that same model. ‘Make them wonder what’s going to happen if tomorrow you don’t show up.’ There’s a lot of people that aren’t taught that and I think having those examples in my life was important. When you see it every day, that just becomes who you are. You can cultivate that in yourself but I think it’s much easier when you’re surrounded by people who approach life with that mindset.
I’m not scared of hard work for sure. I enjoy it.”
That hard work ethic has paid off during his time at Duck Commander.
“At Duck Commander, I have essentially worked every job but accounting. I was never scared to do any of the work from building calls to sweeping the floors to boxing stuff up and shipping it out to selling sponsorships… all of that kind of stuff. None of it ever scared me. You would never hear me say “That’s not my job.” I would figure it out. And if I didn’t know, I would ask. I was always willing to help, willing to learn, and from doing all of that I ended up now being the General Manager of the company.
Justin shared that he thinks it’s important for employees to know that their boss isn’t above helping out when it gets busy. He says, “I’m not just going to sit in my office if there’s a department that’s being bombarded. I’m going to jump in there. I think employees appreciate that, seeing you jump in there and help, and realize that you’re not just a boss. You’ll get in there and get dirty with them. They realize when they come to me with a complaint, I know what they’re going through.
“I think the world in general has gotten into this job description mentality that if it isn’t in this then I don’t do it… I don’t ever subscribe to that. You do what you’ve got to do to make it work. And if we’re successful, then everybody is successful. It’s very much a team mindset around here.
How does Justin Martin stay positive during the craziness of 2020?
“Without faith, it would be incredibly hard to be positive all the time. To know that whatever we have going on here on this earth is temporary is one of the greatest comforts you can find. When you know that your reward is eternal and is promised to be infinitely better than what we have here, I think that is how you can keep such a positive outlook on things. Even if I’m here forty more years, for the rest of eternity I’m going to be somewhere much better.
“Whatever is going on around you, you control what you reasonably can control and you give the rest to the Good Lord and trust and believe. It gives you a peace. I tried to fill that peace gap with a lot of other things before I settled on Jesus. I say settled but that’s not the correct word because I chose Jesus because He had chosen me long ago. I tried to fill it with duck hunting, with fishing, with all the things of the world and it never would fill. Once I made that commitment, it has filled me whole. I’m content. I still work hard, I strive to be a better person, be a better businessman, be a better everything but knowing that at the end of the day, the Good Lord has my back.
“It is what it is. Life is too short to stress. I’ll pick it back up tomorrow. I’m not worried about it. Keep up, do what you can do, and let the chips fall where they may. That’s where I roll.
“My cup has always been half full. It ain’t ever been half empty.”
2021 is looking good for Duck Commander.
How is this hunting season looking?
“So far, the hunting season has been fantastic. That’s kindof a change. The last three or four have had a slow start a little bit and a slow finish. This year started off extremely, extremely strong. I hope that trend holds, obviously, because the more people that are successful duck hunting, the more we sell product. That does everybody good.
“But also, I think it’s cool to see all of the new people trying it because of the coronavirus and the pandemic and all of that, the social distancing and working from home, and the flexibility that allows a lot of people.
“What I hope to see is a strong hunter recruitment. I know it worked that way when it was warm and everyone was fishing. I hope that the hunting community can experience that same kind of growth and get new people trying it because at the end of the day, that’s what the hunting community has to have to continue to survive and thrive, is new people trying it. The same-old same-olds… that’s not how we grow. I think that’s a really interesting dynamic to look at the end of the year, when we all look at license sales and all of that, and see just how many new people tried it. I think it will be a pretty cool thing.
What does the future look like for Duck Commander?
“I would say the future around here is pretty strong. It’s fun for us. Duck Commander started in 1972 so all of the super hard work, the brand building, the leg work was done by those guys. I didn’t show up until 2009/2010 so all of the ground work was laid by those guys and now I get to steer that company off of the solid groundwork that they have in place.
“I was here for a lot of the building of Buck Commander so it was kinda cool to see that go from an idea to a company. And I’m excited to see where Strut Commander and Fin Commander go - those are two new initiatives. I pushed all of my energy into getting the Strut Commander line in stores and trying to get it a household name, to make sure we were making the best product we could make. It’s finally caught really good traction and the sales are picking up and the reach is picking up.
“This year my 2021 initiative is Fin Commander. To try to approach that brand with the same thing - let’s make the best stuff we can possibly make, let’s make it really good, but where the blue collar outdoorsman can afford it, so they’re not worried if they lose their bait or something like that.”
What is Justin most proud of, looking back at 2020?
“I’m proud that the Good Lord gave me a platform to spread positivity when so much of what you see is negativity.
“I’m proud that even in this quarantine lifestyle, we got to spend more time with our families instead of just going to work, coming home, eating dinner, and going to bed and do it all over again.
“I’m proud of investment into other peoples’ lives.
“I’m happy that new people are trying new things and kinda getting back to their roots so to speak, getting outside and doin’ all of that. I’m just proud that we can all be a piece of that. A piece of the puzzle to helping people figure that out and thrive and continue to grow and realize that ‘hey, it’s not that bad.’ I don’t say that tongue in cheek. I go back to temporary vs. eternal. I keep that mindset in everything that I do.”
Random facts you don't know about Justin Martin.
Surprisingly enough, some of the most basic things about Justin’s life are commonly missed by his following. Here are a few random things Justin wants you to know.
Most people don’t know his real name.
“My first name is not Martin. That’s my last name. From the show, you’d have never known that. It’s kinda funny.”
He’s younger than his beard might tell you.
“I’m actually only 35, I know I look much older than that. My hairline puts me at about 45, but that’s fine. The Good Lord only made so many perfect heads and the rest of ‘em he put hair on.”
He’s off the market.
“Most people that got to know me and follow me still don’t realize that I got married and that I’ve been married. They say, ‘oh, congrats on your new marriage.’ I guess technically it’s new, but we’re rolling on almost six years now.”
Justin shared that he and his wife love to hunt together.
“My wife hunts with me. She really enjoys it,” he says. “Whenever we get free time we hunt together as much as we can. I like taking her because she didn’t grow up hunting. To watch her experience it… when all of the pieces fit together in their mind, it’s a cool experience to see.”
His random superpower is… silence.
“I can read an audience and know when to shut up. I think that’s my greatest superpower, is knowing when to keep my mouth shut. There’s a lot of people who don’t. I can tell when it’s time to be quiet. It’s like, ‘alright, that’s enough.’”
He loves to cook.
“I absolutely love to cook, and I cook a lot. A lot of hunters and fishermen do enjoy cooking because they like cooking what they’re after but I do, I thoroughly enjoy cooking. I clean what I take, too. I’m not one to drop stuff off at the processors. No. I’m hunting ya, I’m cleaning ya, and I’m cooking ya. It ain’t transferring hands. I’m doing it from start to finish.
“They’re all pretty dadgum good but my favorite is obviously grilled duck breast and we actually have a video going on YouTube of them, we made them yesterday.”
The Groove Belt: some thoughts from a duck hunter
“One of the coolest things that I don’t think enough people know about is that dadgum belt. I love that thing. I’m wearing it right now. It’s fantastic.
“I love that you don’t have to worry about it. You set it one time and it’s always the same size. You just reach over there and click it and you’re good. There ain’t no running it through, making sure you get the little stud through the hole or whatever, tightening it up… no. Once you’ve got it where you want it, you just pop it off, pop it on. I love that thing. I wear my belt hunting to hold my britches up underneath my waders.
“It’s a little stretchy too so even if it’s a little tight, you got a little give with it. When you sit at a desk like we do a leather belt can start digging into you and that one just kinda stretches and moves out of your way.
“I love that click! It’s good.”
Connect with Justin Martin
If you liked getting to know Justin Martin here and want to keep up with him, go give him a follow on Instagram! He also makes a lot of appearances on the Duck Commander YouTube channel. You can subscribe to that channel right here.
About Groove Life
Groove Life started out as the wild dream of wild adventurer Peter Goodwin as he worked as a guide in the bush of Alaska. He designed a silicone Groove Ring that could keep up with the most intense lifestyles! Today, we have expanded our team and stay busy dreaming up and creating new products for adventurers. Want to know more about who we are? Head over to our website and check out our mission and values!