Shiner and Crash met in eighth grade, simple, became best buds. Red and Willy were two years younger than Shiner and Crash, Best buds, again, simple. Shiner and Red were brothers, so naturally, those four hung out. All these boys loved to hunt and fish, but they also went to the same school. Now Lead came into the mix years later. Lead hunted at the same deer camp as Shiner, and Shiner invited Crash to hunt at that camp. When Crash and Lead met, they didn’t like each other, those dudes had no idea that less than 10 years later they were going to start a company together. Just a few months after the deer camp, Lead showed up at Crash’s BBQ with a mutual friend. Now because Ol’ Crash is such a nice fella, and wanted to bury the hatchet, they spent the next four hours out on the deck telling stories and laughing. Ol’ Crash really took a liking to Ol’ Lead, and respected the heck out him. They both loved to hunt, loved to fish, pretty much brothers from separate mothers. They are 17 years apart in age, but that didn’t stop them from rod and reeling cats four nights a week, high powering coyotes and listening to Jerry Reed. Well, Ol’ Lead had the boat, and one weekend, he took Crash, Willy, and Red out running lines. Something Lead grew up doing back in west-central Illinois. That was the start of the dream.
Just like any invention, it always starts with a problem. The problem festered when you put a super OCD dude in the front of a Jon Boat tying ditty poles, which was Crash. Crash tied, or “worked” I guess we could say, Lead drove, Red sat in the back of the boat and manned the cooler, and Willy usually tended Crash handing him mallets, pliers, poles, etc. Eventually, Red, Willy and Crash all worked the front. See how this works? Everyone’s personalities were starting to surface, and you very quickly learn how others operate when you are all on a boat together, working. We can all thank Lead for teaching us how to “run lines” and one must always tip his hat to older wiser ones.
The boys soon discovered they loved catfishing so much that they rod and reeled channel cats in the Des Moines River during the week after work all night long and then headed out of town to the rural rivers of Iowa where they camped and ran lines all weekend. It eventually grew into the annual Memorial Day trip, three days running lines. Then it grew into the memorial week trip, a whole week out on the river running lines. Then it grew into numerous weeks on the river running lines, all the while, Crash is stewing on how much of a hassle the “old” way of doing things is. Finally, Crash had enough. One night sitting in the Shack (Crash’s garage) he and Lead started having a serious discussion on a better way. They decided that they would fix it.
First, you have to identify the problems. Crash wrote the problems on a white board and those hassles stayed on the board for years until one by one, they were solved. Now, when we say years, we mean YEARS! The MudbuMs did not hire an engineering firm. Most would look at the Hawg Lawg and say, man, that’s simple. Well partner, go make it, good luck! The original fasteners started out as rare earth magnets, used with a steel slide. However, the brittle temperament of a neodymium magnet was finicky, and not to mention that China retained nearly all of the production of rare earth elements. That was a real problem when you want to make a product that is entirely produced in the USA. Some other roadblocks in the design phase were vacuum problems, line stretch, thermal expansion and contraction, cost/benefit analysis of high molecular weight extruded polyethylene, testing and sourcing non-hygroscopic materials that could be injection molded, and cooled without becoming warped due to the flashing (which most companies said was impossible) into a part that could withstand the constantly fierce bone shattering blows of a 40 oz. mallet without ever being compromised, backed by a lifetime warranty.
Crash knew that sacrifices had to be made. Cable and the internet, disconnected. New truck, sold it. Four wheeler, sold it too. New clothes? Yeah right. Girlfriend, gone. Dog, when he passed away, never got a new one. Kids? Nope. Still, have time for your niece and nephew’s birthday parties? Nope (that hurt the most). One thing after another disappeared until the only thing left, literally, in Crash’s life was a full-time construction job and coming home to work on the Hawg Lawg. Lead and Crash were like two mad scientists in the Shack. BV and Cokes, wood burner fired up, tinkering, experimenting, testing and building a new set of prototypes. Then summer time would roll around, Willy and Red would join up and they would test the poles, find the flaws then head back to the Shack logging and identifying the problems, improving, round and round, same battle every day, for years. The Shack turned into a 30×30 skunk works adorned with saws, lathes, assembly tables, lines, cables, airlines, piles upon piles of stuff hanging on the walls and ceiling. Years of parts, pieces, tools, words and pictures that tell the tale of the failures, accomplishments, and lessons. The MudbuMs took everything to heart, considered everything during the design and never took for granted a single lesson. In fact, there is still a monster flathead swimming around in central Iowa that The MudbuMs to this day call the “Professor” because he taught them one heck of a lesson. A lesson so valuable that it literally changed a significant design feature in the Hawg Lawg. It was a forging of a brotherhood, trust, and commitment, an Espirit de Corps, to not only one another but the mission at hand. No man left behind and no glory until it was perfect.
Crash’s house started falling apart, in fact; the siding on the Shack has literally fallen off in places. I’m sure you have seen it on the show. Gutters have fallen off the house. There was no time to fix it, and if he did have the time, he didn’t have the money. That was gone too. It became an obsession, holes in your underwear type of an obsession. For a half of a decade, The Hawg Lawg was the priority. The MudbuMs spent so much time camping on the river, learning that world too. That in and of itself taught valuable lessons, hard ones. All of that commitment and sacrifice, some would call it selfish (they are right), it had to be that way or it would never have happened. That list could go on and on, but after six years, nine prototypes, about $50K in personal capital, multiple foreclosure notices and a steady diet of Ramen Noodles, The Hawg Lawg was born. For almost nine years now we wake up, get kicked in the teeth and get back up. That mentality is stitched with every thread of our ethos as The MudbuMs. WE fought, kicked, bit, screamed and clawed for every bone we chew on. It seems today that there is no hill too high, it’s a blessing and a curse.
About the time that the Hawg Lawg was ready for market, The MudbuMs decided they needed to make tap the marketing aspect with an informational video about the product. During the time of looking for someone to make a video, Crash walked into a coffee shop in Des Moines he had never been in and ran into a buddy he used to hang with in high school. The past 10 years separated their lives and here they were, Crash and Danger Dad (who is now the producer of The MudbuM Boys TV Series) talking about old times. Turns out Danger Dad was now a TV producer. One thing led to another, a pilot episode ensued then six months later, The MudbuMs signed their deal with The Pursuit Channel. What most folks don’t realize was that the first seven episodes of season one were made without a contract or sponsor, and was totally filmed on faith. That meant everything was bootstrapped, broke down and quite simply, pretty rough.
By the time episode seven aired, The MudbuMs had aligned with some really amazing sponsors such as Mercury Outboards, Gator Trax Boats, and Golight. Most have stuck with us to this day as they seen the potential the others did not. Those who stayed, we have worked our tails off for and we consider them an extension of The MudbuMs. We have literally surrounded ourselves with the best in the industry when it comes to products. In fact, we actually walked away from a sponsorship deal because “Company X” (large company mind you) built crap, absolute crap. Our integrity would not allow us to retain them as a sponsor because we would never be able to honestly look someone in the eye and say, “We believe in it.” That is how we feel about our sponsor products, they are simply the best. It’s because of them we can now produce much better content for our fans and viewers. We don’t preach our sponsors’ products because their just our sponsor, we preach it because WE BELIEVE IN THEM & THEIR GEAR!
When seven dudes spend weeks and months on the river every year, you have to have reliable and unwavering equipment. It allows us to do our job, goes where we need to go and throw down the gauntlet when using our gear. The river can be a very dangerous and unforgiving environment. You best have a tough boat that can handle logs and rocks combined with a tougher motor that can handle the same. Camping gear that can handle briars, thistles, water, sand and constant harsh outdoor abuse. It is one thing to have rain gear that keeps you dry when your bass fishing on the front of a boat, but it’s another thing to have rain gear that can handle the woods, the brutal environment that a Midwest river bank can deliver. Most of the fishing we do is at night. Golight is a great example of how much we believe in their product. We used Golights long before we were sponsored by them because they are the toughest, baddest and brightest lights you can mount on anything. We do not simply have sponsors. In fact, we do not have ‘sponsored’ friends. Our sponsor/partners are an intimate part of The MudbuM family and that’s just the simple truth. We could go on and on about our sponsors, but bottom line, we wouldn’t be here without them and their amazing products.
On April 18, 2016, The MudbuMs cut the ribbon on their first and very own retail store in Urbandale, Iowa, the MudbuM Supply Shack which has one goal in mind: Providing an experience for our customers like no other through old school grit, unapologetic American pride, rustic aesthetics and an overflow of quality. From MudbuM swag, Hawg Lawgs, Pig Twigs, Grundens, Golight, Slumberjack, Orca, tackle, etc., this is where Lead and Crash work every day. Every morning when the door at the MudbuM Supply Shack is unlocked, we are constantly reminded of this ride and our blessings. The Almighty Father has blessed us far beyond what we deserve.
MudbuM USA is now in its third year as a company. Although we are still very small and very young, we have a lot up our sleeve for what is ahead. We have been surrounded by friends and family that have supported all of us the entire way, and this would not happen without them. They have helped build poles, sort apparel, run tradeshow booths, cooked, cleaned and done all they could to get us to the next level. We have developed relationships with many landowners who have been so gracious in allowing us to come fish their river and stay on their place, hunkered back in the timber. We wake up every day and thank God for our blessings, our scars, our lessons, our family, our friends and our fans. Keep your eye out for The MudbuMs, because rest assured, you never know where we will be next and what we may be doing. God Bless all of you and thank you for your continued support!