Book Review: Happy, Happy, Happy by Phil Robertson

The book “Happy, Happy, Happy” by Phil Robertson is a quick read on the life of a real guy who is transparent about his faith, failures and foundation. He grew up with very little in the 1950s living like it was the 1850s in Northwest Louisiana. He learned to live off the land and never grew to need any of the technology of today.  All he wanted to do was fish, trap and hunt.

He had opportunities to play professional football as he preceded Terry Bradshaw at Louisiana Tech, but his wandering desire for hunting was greater than the civilization desires and he spent about eight years on the shady side of life.  Even though he was married and was starting a family, his irresponsible actions from “romping and stomping” let him spiral down into his abyss.

When he was about 28, he returned home to Miss Kay, his wife, and said he wanted to turn around.  Miss Kay said he needed Jesus and Phil found Him.  Phil jumped in to Christianity, going to church and attending Bible studies five nights a week.  His wandering lust changed to a pursuing desire to do right with all of his energies. Fortunately, he persuaded Miss Kay to buy the land they live on today, and Phil began commercial fishing.  Miss Kay sold the fish in town with their sons as Phil became more and more successful. Yet the Duck Commander enterprise would be his real dream.

Fishing was lucrative for Phil, but his call became his calling. Here’s the way Phil tells the story,

This fishing business became somewhat lucrative—we were at least making enough money to pay the mortgage and utilities and take care of the rest of our needs—but I still didn’t believe it was my, ahem, calling in life. I kept going back to a memorable hunting trip I’d made with Al Bolen a few years earlier outside of Junction City, Arkansas.  A large flock of mallard ducks had flown high above us. And I hit them with a long, hailing call when they were on their way out of sight.  I turned the flock, and it began to circle, dipping lower as the ducks approached our decoys and blind.  When the ducks began to sail wide, I hit them again with a short chop-chop that turned them back toward our blind, where we waited.  The flock dropped into the water directly in front of us. In perfect gun range.

When the shooting was over Big Al told me, “Man, you weren’t calling those ducks, you were commanding them!”

Al, who knew of my tinkering with his and other hunters’ duck calls, urged me to make my own and sell them.  “And I’ve got the name for it: Duck Commander,” Big Al told me. (emphasis added). (pp.103-104)

Admittedly, it seemed that Phil’s story was often in the weeds. I wasn’t sure I needed all the details, however what drew my attention was not all the steps Phil took to market the Duck Commander, or all the contacts he made with stores, or even the improvements and variety of duck calls he and his family designed, or even his own sons, Alan and Jep, who made temporary prodigal son wanderings like dad, but returned to the family. What drew my attention on this read was how he dealt with those who were stealing from him.

Phil was still doing commercial fishing and yet “river rats” were stealing from his nets. Phil was consistently in the Bible and he read from Romans 12:17-21, where it says to “not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone…” At first Phil wanted to reject the concept, but he realized he had never tried it before, so when he saw someone lifting one of his nets, he raced out there in his boat, and his shotgun in reserve, to try things God’s way. He said to the thieves, “Good times have come your way!” He still had his hand on his Browning A5 shotgun.

I’m going to give’em to you. You were going to steal my fish. Evidently, you’ve planned a fish fry, but y’all aren’t catching any. But you want a fish fry. Since you didn’t catch’em, you’re going to steal’em. Well, here’s the good news: I’m going to give you what you were trying to steal—free of charge. (p. 192)

Phil filled up their boat with his fish and things turned around on the river.

All through Phil’s life, he looked for opportunities to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Now as a successful businessman and hunter, he has plenty of speaking events. All of his family continued in the business and his legacy continues through his grandchildren.  At 67, he still fishes on the land to feed the family and as he says, “Someone has to do it.”

If you enjoy the Duck Dynasty series, you’ll enjoy the book.


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