Searcy man develops patented device to aid duck hunters

by George Jared ( 3,268 views 

Some of Mark Wilson’s fondest memories of his childhood involve him, his father, and countless hours of duck hunting in rural Arkansas. Part of duck hunting is setting duck decoys, and retrieving the lines and anchors that hold them in a body of water can be wet, cold process at the end of a long day of hunting, he said.

Wilson has developed a device that will help in the decoy-rigging process, he told Talk Business & Politics. An announcement hasn’t been made, but he has received a patent for his product. Wilson recently told members of the Jonesboro Inventors Club he plans to have his product built at a manufacturing facility in Harrison, and it could launch as soon as mid-August.

“It’s a tough process (receiving a patent). It has a lot of peaks and valleys,” he said.

It can be difficult to quantify how much money is spent in Arkansas on ducking hunting, but during its 60 day season it’s estimated hunters have a $1 million per day impact on the state’s economy, Wilson said. Arkansas is one of the top duck hunting states along with California, Texas, and Louisiana, he said. An estimated $53 million per year is spent nationwide on duck decoys.

An estimated 945,400 ducks are harvested in Arkansas each year, according to The best parts of the state to hunt ducks is in the eastern parts of the state near the Mississippi and White Rivers. Flooded woodlands and row crop fields in this part of the state attract large numbers of migratory birds headed south during fall and winter. Arkansas’ duck season starts in November and ends in January.

Wilson invented his device several years ago, but acquiring the patent and finding ways to get the product to market proved to be daunting tasks, he said. The first step once you invent a product is to hire a good patent attorney, he said. A patent attorney protects you and your intellectual property he said. Wilson has spent more than $60,000 in this process and will spend another $60,000 before its done, he added.

One decision Wilson made early on was to make sure his product was made in the country. One deal with a major outdoors company fell through because the company wanted to build the devices in China, Wilson said.

Wilson plans to sell his duck decoy devices in six packs for $54.95. His plan is to develop a market for this product and then concentrate on other ideas for products he wants to bring to market. His ultimate goal is to build a brand, he said.

Any advice for inventors and entrepreneurs?

“Be careful. … There are a lot of sharks out there,” Wilson said. “You’ve got to assume it’s their job (corporations) to steal what you’ve done. … I don’t trust corporate America.”