October 28, 2010
It is fun to read about the underdog who makes good.
By Bill Winke
I love rags to riches stories. I'm not sure you can get much more humble than the first few years that Wildlife Research Center was in business. John and Brian Burgeson are the American Dream personified.
Like many of today's deer scent companies, Wildlife Research Center grew from a passion for trapping. As teen-agers in the mid 1960s, John Burgeson and his brother, Brian, spent much of their free time running trap lines. To improve their success, the brothers constantly experimented with scents resulting in a keen understanding of how to combine odors to attract animals and how they react to different scents, including human odor. After time, the brothers perfected their scent concoctions and began selling scent to other local trappers. But they certainly weren't ready to quit their day jobs.
As deer populations rose in the early 1980s, John and Brian became interested in deer hunting and naturally took their knowledge of scents and began formulating a buck lure. Just like their trapping products, it also sold well, locally. However, it wasn't until 1983 that they incorporated their small business with the intent of selling their products nationally by mail order.
"Don't let anyone tell you mail order is easy," John laughed. "We were excited about our new company and had big goals. The first thing we did was run $10,000 worth of advertising in hunting magazines for our Trail's End #307 buck lure. That first year we sold just 200 bottles that we mixed in a salad bowl and bottled in the basement of the house using a plastic funnel! Needless to say we didn't turn a profit that year!"
Nor the next year for that matter. In fact, it was their ninth year in business before either John or Brian took the first penny from the company. "We had other jobs and relied on them to pay the bills and put food on the table," John said. "To make the company grow through those nine years we poured all the money back in. As we grew, we changed the packaging and added other avenues of distribution beyond mail order. We started going to trade shows and deer classics. We also put on many miles driving from dealer-to-dealer to sell the product direct. I can remember how excited we'd be walking out of a sporting goods store after selling the owner a few bottles of our scents.
"We moved from the basement to a garage and then to a barn that we fixed up for our production facility. After several years, we moved into a commercial building where we made the improvements needed to increase the efficiency of the business. Finally, in 2006 we moved to our present facility, which is even larger and more efficient.
"We had to work our way up," John said. "Nothing came easy, but the business has grown steadily. Today, we also use manufacturer's reps to sell the product all over the country, but Brian and I keep up many accounts ourselves. Some dealers have become very good friends dating back to the humble beginnings when we had to handle every sale ourselves."
The W.R.C. Philosophy
"Consistency is the mark of a good scent," said John Burgeson. "A lot of scents will work, meaning they'll attract some of the deer some of the time. But, the best scents will attract more deer more of the time. Wildlife Research Center products go beyond basic recipes to include combinations of other natural ingredients that no other companies use. These extra ingredients 'soup-up' our scents a little and make them more effective under a wider range of circumstances.
"For example, we may take estrus urine and add other types of attractor scents and curiosity scents," John added. "We're constantly experimenting with scents and trying new combinations. We're also very particular about how our ingredients are collected. They have exceptional purity and quality and that's very important. As a result, our scents work when others may not. That's why we offer a money back guarantee with everything we sell. Anyone less than satisfied with the performance of our products, may simply return the empty bottle with the receipt for a full refund."
The original Trail's End #307 that the Burgeson brothers bottled in their basement 24 years ago is still the company's best-known scent product. According to a survey Wildlife Research Center conducted, three out of four Trail's End users (hunters in 34 different states) saw evidence that the deer lure was effective where they hunted.
The Ultimate Scrape Dripper is another core product. Burgeson and company designed this automatic mock scrape freshener to release liquid scent as the temperature warms during the day. A 10-degree differential between nighttime and daytime temperatures is all that's required to activate the device and cause it to drip scent onto the scrape below. The Ultimate Scrape Dripper will stretch one ounce of scent for up to five days.
Special Golden Estrus scent is fresh doe-in-estrus urine that's labeled with the year in which it was bottled. Consumers can always tell when they are getting fresh product. But to give the dealer a reason to carry a dated product, Wildlife Research Center maintains an exchange program that permits the dealer to trade any unused Special Golden Estrus left over at the end of the season for credit toward next year's shipment. You always know you are getting a fresh product because its bottling date is stamped right into the packaging.
The Scent Killer system is a key part of the Wildlife Research Center line. There is a spray-on eliminator for clothing, unscented bar soap, deodorant, clothing detergent (and now reformulated for high efficiency wash machines) and liquid body soap. "We have access to some very talented people," John Burgeson said. "Scent Killer Spray was recently tested at Rutgers University using replicated human scent in a pass-through test. The product eliminated 99-percent of the human scent from passing through the fabric."
The most exciting new products from Wildlife Research Center are in the Trophy Leaf line. The Trophy Leaf is a convenient method for carrying and dispensing scent. Scent saturates the specially formulated porous plastic that is shaped like a leaf. It evaporates from the Leaf slowly during the day. When you put the Trophy Leaf back in the scent-proof carrying case, it actually regenerates as scent from the inner layers plastic works its way to the surface.
The Trophy Leaf comes in four-packs and according to John Burgeson, one pack should last you for the entire season. For 2007, Wildlife Research Center added Golden Estrus, Trails End #307 and Red Fox Urine scented leaves.
Wildlife Research Center is the nation's largest deer scent producer. A company
doesn't get that big unless they're doing things right. Wildlife Research Center promotes its products well, but most importantly their scent products produce results for archery hunters in the field — where it counts!
For more information contact: Wildlife Research Center, Dept. PB, 14485 Azurite St. NW, Ramsey, MN 55303; (763) 427-3350; www.wildlife.com.