Breaking news – it has just been announced that Hard Core Decoys is now owned by Hard Core Brands International, LLC and Jim Shiefelbein…click here to read the press release.
Not every company can live up to its tagline, much less its name. Hard Core Decoys, manufacturer and supplier of premium waterfowl decoys, is one that can. Hard Core Decoys makes decoys for the true “hard core” waterfowl hunters out there, the ones that hunt 99% of the days open for waterfowl season, missing that 1% for a brother’s wedding or a friend’s homecoming. That much was evident as I spoke with Vice President Mike Galloway on the phone: he was on the road in the Mississippi Delta, looking out for birds in the midst of a hunt. I was lucky enough to catch him for the low-down on just what Hard Core Decoys is all about.
“What sets us apart from our competitors is that our products are made by waterfowlers, for waterfowlers,” Galloway says. Every member of the staff, from the creators and manufacturers to (of course) the pro staff who put the decoys to the test out in the field, participates in the pursuit of the elusive game. “We’re not just some conglomerate that absorbed a decoy maker. We’re the guys who are part of the sport,” Galloway continues. “When we make decoys, we don’t just pick one body and put four different postures on it. Each one of our decoys is dynamic and as close to reality as possible.”
Galloway is drawn to the sport, and by extension the industry, for the camaraderie and the social nature of a waterfowl hunt. “I love to deer hunt, but that’s basically a solo activity,” Galloway explains, continuing that “waterfowl hunting is a communal activity. While you’re out there, you share stories or a cigar with your buddies in the covert. You watch that Mississippi Delta sunrise together, and if there’s anything in this world that will make you believe in God, it’s that.” On his own dedication to the hunt, Galloway adds “in pursuit of waterfowl, you’re actually hunting. There’s serious thought involved – you mess up a single thing or improperly position a single decoy and those birds aren’t coming anywhere near you. It’s chess and it’s checkers: you’ve gotta think, but you’ve also got plenty of action and in the end you’re having fun.”
Hard Core takes that deep sense of community and the “team hunt” attitude into their products. They make decoys not only that the consumer wants, but that they want. “We wouldn’t put our name on a decoy that we wouldn’t use or stand behind ourselves. Our decoys perfectly recreate resting postures, sleeping postures and every possible true waterfowl position – no detail or expense is spared in the creation of our products,” Galloway asserts.
Everything Galloway told me about over the phone was backed up by Rick Carone, one of Hard Core’s pro staff and an expert waterfowl hunter who I spoke to after interviewing Mike. He sang the praises of the decoys themselves, saying “partly, they’re the perfect replication of a real goose. And what’s more, they’ve got so many different poses that it allows you to make your decoy flock so much more dynamic and realistic. Not all decoys do that.” Then, touching on the camaraderie alluded to by the Hard Core VP, Carone detailed a “wounded warrior” hunt they took an Afghan vet on during his recent return to the United States.
“Mike [Galloway] sent an email around to all of us asking if we’d be able to lend a hand, and he immediately got an overwhelming response in support,” Carone says. Echoing what Galloway had just told me minutes before, Carone added that “we went out to hunt with the vet and shared stories, from war and from hunts. We thanked him for his service, got his own opinions on what was happening overseas and then some. It wasn’t just about the birds but about the fact of being out on the hunt with your friends, new and old.” Straight out of the battlefield and into the wetlands, Hard Core remains dedicated to those who dedicate themselves to the pursuit of difficult game.
In addition to their personal commitment to their work, they go beyond the call of duty and back up their products with promises unique to the industry. For one thing, they absolutely guarantee delivery to retailers. “That’s a huge thing in the decoy market,” Galloway explained to me, “a lot of the times companies oversell and under deliver. Not so with us.” Adding to that, Galloway says “if you have an issue with one of your decoys, we guarantee that when you call Hard Core you will be speaking directly with a member of the Hard Core team who will help you out, not some call service in India.”
One thing you can’t say about Hard Core is that they’re static or stuck in their ways. Galloway could hardly contain his excitement over the phone, telling me that very soon they’ll be “blowing the doors off the outdoor industry.” As much as I pried, Galloway’s lips were sealed about the details.
Whatever happens in the year to come, you can be sure to hear about it first on Outdoor Hub.
Photos courtesy Rick Carone and Colin Anthony