On opening day of the 1997 Nevada duck season, Chad Belding sat in a blind with a few close friends. Soon the gadwalls began their morning flight, and when his buddy lured the grey ducks in range with a perfect sequence of hen calls, and the boys opened up, well, that was it—Belding was hooked.
“I went out and got some news calls and a shotgun, and really started learning it,” says Belding. “I called as many pros as I could to pick their brains…just trying to figure out the best way to communicate with ducks and geese.”
It happens to young hunters all over North America every year. Their first frosty morning in the marsh turns into season after season of pursuing plumed out greenheads and giant Canada geese. Most of us stop right there. We are content to become great callers and shooters, but Chad Belding wanted more.
Straight out of college, he began owning and operating several of his own businesses, and eventually became a pro-staffer and champion caller. His time on the call circuit put Belding in front of some industry stalwarts, who continue to help shape his business. It also gave Chad the chance to talk with waterfowlers from all over the country, giving him a better understanding of the gear real hunters crave.
A consummate worker, Belding was driven to push his own waterfowl brand. Banded Productions began in 2008, and “The Fowl Life,” his hit TV show, followed the next year and is now in its fifth season on Sportsman Channel. More shows followed, namely “Dead Dog Walkin,’” focusing on predator hunting. By 2014, Banded Productions will be involved in seven different hunting shows.
With younger brothers Clint and Clay, Belding continued working tirelessly, always pushing to diversify and expand Banded. After assembling one of the most accomplished and knowledgeable staffs in the industry, he spawned Banded Nation, which now includes several other ventures, including Banded Gear, Last Call Ringtones, Banded Hunts, Banded Retrievers, Banded University, Banded Fusion, Banded Calls, and Banded, a waterfowl-specific gear company that offers 1,700 different products for beginners to the hard core hunter.
“I started the production company, had a clothing line, and started Banded Calls, but all these different individuals were seeing what I was doing and how well the name Banded was working,” Belding said. “They began approaching me about all these offshoot businesses, and instead of just licensing them the name, I chose to take equity ownership.”
Banded continues to grow, and sponsors like Benelli, Realtree, HI-VIZ, Ford, Yamaha, Mojo, Do-ALL Outdoors, Pelican, Garmin, Globalstar, Otis, Federal Premium, Bushnell and others validate the success of the brand. The company’s rise is a testament to Belding’s drive, attention to detail and accessibility.
“I think one word that sums up all our success is passion,” he said. “Our passion is what I feel like has made us a powerhouse in the waterfowl industry. People appreciate how we hunt. We’re always joking around and smiling, but we’re also serious about it, and we’re good at it.”