“Y’all catch any deers?”
This is what former NHL hockey player Mike Fisher and his buddies were asked by their friend, Austin, during his first hunt camp a few years back. If you aren’t privy to hunting lingo, “catching” isn’t the correct adjective for deer hunting and the “new guy” instantly became the lighthearted butt of the joke in the group of avid hunters.
The following year, Fisher’s brother, Bud, made hats with the words “Catchin’ Deers” emblazoned on them for the group to wear. Little did anyone know that the phrase created from the inside joke would become the namesake of a successful business venture founded by Fisher and his hunt camp crew.
Fellow avid hunters found humor in the caps that the men wore while out in public and started asking Fisher and his crew where they got them. So, as fate would have it, Catchin’ Deers became a hunting and fishing clothing line in 2016, complete with flannels, window decals, and the signature caps that started it all.
“We knew we were onto something, you know ’cause every hunter has heard that before. So then we locked down Instagram, social media, and a website and we just started selling hats, and then we put out a funny video that people seemed to love, and it kinda took off. We knew we were definitely starting something that could be pretty cool and pretty fun,” Fisher said, describing the origins of Catchin’ Deers.
Along with a clothing line, Catchin’ Deers TV promotes the hunt camp life with a humorous twist. The first video Fisher and his crew made was a snarky introduction to the ball caps and the story behind it, complete with a vegan photographer, wrestling a deer, and a cannon being shot off (it’s the video embedded at the top of this paragraph). These short videos promote the brand and create a new dimension to the purpose behind the clothing line: embracing the comedy and camaraderie that comes with real-life hunt camps.
Fisher and his friends were all on board with this; “We love laughing at hunt camp, joking around, and having fun, so we thought, ‘You know what, sometimes hunting can be over-serious,’ and we didn’t want to be like that. We are serious hunters but we want to have fun, and we want to enjoy it. We started to make some videos and people started to resonate with it, and I think it was something new for the hunting industry. We wanted to make some apparel that people could be proud of and have a good laugh at, too.”
While the humor differentiates Catchin’ Deers from many other traditional rural clothing lines, other brands are a big part of their inspiration and “fellowship.”
“There’s lots of brands that we like and we see, but I think we have differentiated ourselves with some of the humor and some of the content,” said Fisher, who is married to country music superstar Carrie Underwood. “Not all our T-shirts and hoodies and stuff are humorous, but some are, and we just wanted stuff people could wear at the hunt camp and just enjoy it. We do some camo stuff, but we are not going to compete with Real Tree. We are actually working with Real Tree and Browning and companies to partner together and help each other. There’s been some great partnerships.”
Riding on the “deer tails” of success with the clothing line, Catchin Deers just signed an exclusive deal with Tractor Supply Co. to carry Fisher’s new line. About 1,200 stores across the country, and online, rolled out the line on August 5, 2019.
“I’ve shopped at Tractor Supply. I love the store, and I think it’s a perfect fit for our market, our customers, and we couldn’t be more excited to partner with a company like that,” Fisher said.
While most their clothing line is considered unisex, Fisher plans to expand the line into women’s and children’s apparel in the future.
Although Catchin’ Deers is embracing the humorous side of hunting and fishing, there is definitely a fellowship and faith base to the brand, which Fisher hopes to help spread with this line of clothing.
“Faith is very important to all five of us [the Catchin’ Deers partners]. I’ve wanted to use my platform in hockey to encourage people about faith, and that’s been really important, and that’s who we are as guys. The outdoors space, that’s how I have always connected with God and being in the quietness of the woods or being around my brothers and family at hunt camp. That’s what we are trying to encourage people to do. …
“When I left hockey, you know you miss the camaraderie of your teammates being around guys every day and that’s one of the things that hunt camp, for me, was a good transition cause you still get that, you still get hanging around guys, and that’s important.”
Markie Hageman majored in agribusiness at Fort Hays State University. She is actively involved in her state Cattlemen’s Association, Young Farmers chapter, and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Her AGDAILY articles can be found here.