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The Men Behind the Mask

    Loren Ekart
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Gardeners, gatherers, bow-hunters, psychologically curious costume enthusiasts, wood-fired pottery artists, steadfast entrepreneurs, self-taught songwriters, carpenters, riflemen, fitness fanatics, skydiving and speed junkies, outdoor culinary craftsmen, motor-heads, family men, coaches, river fishermen, and cold weather predator trappers immersed in stories of failure, death, successes, inventions, hard lessons, and victories. We cling to tradition with personalities that range from soft and steady to erratic machine gun fire and incessantly drink life from a fire hose. We recently shattered a world record and hung all 23 feet and 7 inches from the ceiling in our store as an example of what perfect timing and a homonym can create. We are drastically different individually, but decades in the fiery forge have bonded us as a walking iceberg. What is below the surface is much more immense than even we understand. Even when all of this passes, we will remain a tightly tuned unit. We are The MudbuMs.

The backstory

Articles do not typically require an explanation; this one, however is warranted. When the highly talented Lindsay Berger with Living Details approached us to garner interest in this article, our initial response was “Did Lorena Bobbit own a knife?” We were honored and stoked! However, I had two requests. I asked if she would allow me to write the article. My reasoning was that it seemed every article ever written about us lackadaisically mixed names and left out the good stuff. To put it bluntly, they have never been totally right. Past articles about us have been like eating a melted bowl of sugar-free vanilla ice cream with a fork. I also wanted to execute an idea for a photo shoot (with her approval of course). Thankfully on our end and graciously on theirs, they obliged. We combined forces and here we are.

At the core we are a vivacious group of grinders who work ridiculously long hours, concoct elaborate pranks, love the catch, respect the kill, and are addicted to an unknown adventure.

Perception isn’t always reality

We live in Des Moines and fly our Iowa flag high and proud. Every year with the assistance of the Video Taper Guys, we produce 13 original episodes airing 250 times on two national networks: Sportsman Channel and World Fishing Network. Naturally, most folks think The MudbuMs are just cat-fishermen, but that could not be further from the truth. The best way to describe us is to look at another life, from another time, Miss Hedy Lamarr. Hedy was born in Austria in the fall of 1914. She later fled to the U.S.A. and became one of the most popular actresses of her day. She was talented, funny, articulate, and stunningly beautiful. She is mostly known for her acting career, but there was much more below the surface. She was an inventor. To this day, no one knows the amount of inventions Hedy created, but one in particular helped the U.S.A. win the war against those pesky German rascals. She invented “Frequency Hopping” which allowed us to successfully shoot torpedoes at underwater Nazi rigs without them jamming the signal. This technology eventually morphed into what is called Spread Spectrum, a way to transmit signals and data through the air without interference. A great example of this today is Bluetooth.

The core

Though we have invented a product and do have nearly a dozen IP certificates on the wall, that is not the correlation. You may be thinking the comparison is because Hedy and Red both share some serious sex appeal, but that is not it either. What Hedy was known for and what she was passionate about were two different things all together. That is the common element. She was a curious inventor at heart, but even to this day, she is mostly known for being a big screen bombshell. The MudbuMs may be known for being cat-fishermen, but that does not define us. In fact, when you peel the onion, we are dissimilar in most aspects of our lives. However, as you continue to peel the onion, every layer leads to the core, which we all share. At the core we are a vivacious group of grinders who work ridiculously long hours, concoct elaborate pranks, love the catch, respect the kill, and are addicted to an unknown adventure.

It’s a destination

You may not know we operate a store in Urbandale known as The MudbuM Supply Shack, right by Beer Crazy on 100th and Douglas. During a visit to the MSS, you may encounter the U.A.B. (Urban Assault Beaver) followed by a “Hey, how ya’ doing? Can I get you a cup of coffee? Or how about a cold one?” From there you will see what it looks like to cram 10 gallons of stuff into a 5-gallon bucket. We have been told the MSS is a lot to take in. Most customers hang around for a while. In many cases, by the time they depart the short hand on the clock has made a full rotation. Your ears will be gently tickled with outlaw country, ‘90s rock, or a podcast playing over the surround sound. All dependent upon who is working the store that day. Your nose will tell you that your grandpa is sitting in a rocking chair in the corner smoking a pipe. The rustic, weathered displays are designed and handmade by Willy and Crash. All of the lumber for the displays comes from a sawmill right here in Iowa. At the MSS, you can rent canoes, kayaks, and any type of camping equipment or gear you need for your next adventure. Plus, we even sell hunting and fishing licenses. It’s a lifestyle store full of swag, outdoor cooking supplies, and tons of gear that screams “I go outside, eat what I kill, mix oil in my gas, can actually use a chainsaw, love a good story, and appreciate humor.”

Hang on for the ride

Recently, we took a trip to South Dakota to break horses and shoot prairie dogs with a group of hardened men who operate a fourth-generation ranch. In MudbuM style, we always have a competition. So, when the work was done, we dawned a pack of balloons and brandished our pellet revolver, so we could once again identify who gets a trophy and who lost. We believe trophies should only go to winners and the losers shall be reminded of their defeat. Each man had 10 rounds in the cylinder as he sat in the saddle straddling a nine-year-old bay mare and rode a homemade course about as big as a football field shooting at balloons. The highlight was when Red was launched from the back of a pony that was highly underestimated for its short stature. It is things like this that can turn a group of grown men into children rolling around on the ground in laughter. Months later Red got bucked off Ricky’s (Jonny’s) Suzuki RM 250 as we all watched him drop the clutch on his inaugural 2-stroke whiskey throttle. These are snippets of what to expect when you watch the show, check out the YouTube page, or follow us on social media. You may see some fishing from time to time, but that is just something we do for a few weeks in late spring. Much like you, our hobbies change with the seasons.

Why we exist

We believe in saving the best for last and that is our customer. We opened the store because we love people and their stories. We take pride in customer experience, customer service, and an old-school attitude of hard work and servant-hood. We would not be here without those who walk through our door every day and we are committed to making each visit to the store memorable. Knowing our fans and customers by first name and taking care of them like family means the most. We hope we can soon brew you a cup of coffee or provide that hard-earned beer. The final ingredient of what makes us who we are is serving you.

Blaine “Crash” Garrett

Everything flowed until I got here. Writing an excerpt about myself. I asked Jonny, “What should I say?” he replied, “Tell them why you play your Grandpa’s guitar and not the many you have hanging on your wall; that ought to paint a pretty clear picture.” My choice for playing my Grandpa’s 40-year-old FG 335 Yamaha is three-fold. I believe it is a true representation of me today. Out of the gate, it is my Grandpa’s. Second, I love old stuff. That is also why I wear my other Grandpa’s pocket watch, still hunt with their shotguns, carry their old knives, and wear their old coats. I am carrying on a tradition in their honor. When I’m carrying those items, I feel that I am carrying their principles as well. You can have the fancy new composite stuff, I will always opt for the scatter gun nestled in walnut. Most times, the oldest stuff has the best story. Third, it is a sleeper. Anytime I start picking these strings with another guitar player, they are shocked at the amazing sound. They then look at the head and expect to see Martin, Taylor, or something expensive. Then they say, “Yamaha? Wow, I never knew they made something that sounded so good.” I love when the underestimated exceeds expectation. It leaves people questioning if what they have thought to be truths their whole lives are, in fact, not truths at all.

Reid “Red” Baker

While you are still brewing up a fresh batch of morning breath sleeping in your warm bed, Red is already past his stretch phase and could have already filled a milk jug with his sweat. As consistent as a metronome, hard as a bar top, smooth as thousand-dollar bed sheets, and as frugal as a single mother living in the Great Depression. This is why he lives at the gym. Red resides in what could be considered a janitor’s closet. “Living in the back room at a gym is cramped with no concealment. Life is simple at the gym. Just a bed, couch, TV, and dresser makes my world work. If you pay the toll to join the gym you might as well be sniffing my underwear after a three-mile run. From the time I get up for the 5:00 a.m. class until 7:00 p.m., there are always people at my headquarters. Good thing if I’m running late all I need to do is roll out of bed and open my door.”

Jonny “Ricky Ripsnort” Wallerich

People regularly question Jonny’s decision-making process for an abundance of reasons. Seldom are his decisions motivated by practicality. Whether a vehicle, an outfit, or a social experiment, there exists an affinity for the absurd. “Doing and saying things seemingly daft reliably produces genuine reactions. There’s no greater feeling than removing yourself from a situation you’ve created, leaving the other party with the inability to comprehend what they’ve just been exposed to. When you can both walk away convinced the other person is the idiot, that’s when the magic commences. Most can’t let go without proclaiming it was a joke. The power lies in preserving the authenticity for a lifetime.”

Niles Michael James “William Oak” Bailey

A square jaw encapsulated in the undergrowth of what would resemble a southern Iowa bramble patch. Hands that mimic the bark on a scaly-bark hickory. One could argue that Willy was carved from the earth. When it comes to chilling with Willy in a boat or around a fire he is as warm as your morning coffee. However, when it comes to touching anything, Willy has a knack for total destruction. “For some reason, I was gifted with the art of destroying things I come into contact with. It takes no more than a glance at something and it falls subject to destruction. I believe that this is a conclusion of two things. First off, that said item is pure junk and was going to destruct even before I laid eyes on it. Second, that God put me here to determine the strength of man’s creations. This is exactly why I test all of our products that we design and build. If it survives me, you will hand it down to your great-grandchildren.”

Aaron “Shiner” Creger

If you pay close attention to someone’s reaction when they hear the name Aaron Creger, their face lights up like an adolescent young man who just found a Playboy under the workbench. The term “Life of the Party” may have been more appropriate in previous years. A time when you would find him dressed up in outfits not suitable for most people’s eyes. However, there is no doubt he still wears that badge. “It’s funny how things like this can shift as we age, but I still have a little of those pre-father tendencies buried inside that sometimes just need to escape.” Aaron’s attitude is as infectious as anthrax, only with opposite side effects. “Concentrate on the positive aspects of life. Attitudes are very contagious so if you are enjoying yourself, most likely your positive vibe is going to rub off on those around you.”

At The MudbuM Supply Shack, you can rent canoes, kayaks, and any type of camping equipment or gear you need for your next adventure. Plus, they even sell hunting and fishing licenses.

Visit The MudbuM Supply Shack at 3894 NW Urbandale Drive in Urbandale, IA

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