Duck Dynasty encounter leaves local quacking on grounded Louisiana family
NATCHEZ — Natchez resident Stuart Heflin grew up with the Robertson family of Duck Dynasty fame, but when he saw them recently at an airport, he still had to ask for an autograph.
Even though the autograph wasn’t for him, Heflin said he couldn’t help but get a little red in the face asking for the signature of someone he used to play ball with years ago.
Heflin, a West Monroe native, grew up with the Robertson family, who own and operate their family business, Duck Commander.
The family stars in a reality television series on A&E that debuted in 2012 and has since become one of the most-watched nonfiction cable series in history.
But Heflin said he still sees them as just the family he grew up around.
“I’ve hunted with all of them, and played on a competitive men’s softball league team with some of them,” Heflin said. “That’s just how I’ve always known them.”
Heflin and his family ventured to the Monroe Regional Airport July 29 to board a flight to London en route to Paris.
When the Heflin family walked to the boarding area for their flight, they ran into a handful of the Robertsons who were boarding the same flight to London for a different trip.
Heflin said he started catching up with different members of the family, all in between the many requests the TV stars received for photos and autographs from others at the airport.
“They just got swarmed by everyone, but the great thing to see was that they never said, ‘No’ to anyone,” Heflin said. “They signed every single autograph and took every picture they were asked just like it was nothing.”
Heflin and his wife, Stacey, took a photo with members of the Robertson family at the airport, too, and shared it with friends back home.
Heflin, who is an agent for State Farm Insurance in Natchez, said one of his employees quickly reached out to him and asked him to get an autograph for her son.
“I felt embarrassed to ask for an autograph because we grew up together, but I told (Willie Robertson) who was asking for it and pulled out a piece of paper to see if he would sign it,” Heflin said. “He pulled out his boarding pass and signed that instead, which I thought was nice of him to do.”
The Heflin family flew with the Robertsons from Monroe to Atlanta where they slowly started to part ways to get on the flight to London.
“They all kind of dispersed throughout the airport going to different places because they said sometimes they can’t ever get anywhere if they all go together,” Heflin said. “They just get stopped and asked for pictures and autographs all the time, it can take them forever to get from one terminal to the next.”
Heflin said he and his family walked the rest of the way to the terminal with Korie and Missy Robertson and chatted with them about the somewhat unexpected rush of fame from the television show.
“Korie was saying how God had prepared them for all this because they had started with smaller deer hunting televisions shows early on,” Heflin said. “She was saying how all that was baby steps that led them to the big show they have now.”
Heflin said his goodbyes to the family as they boarded the plane and went to separate seats.
But Heflin said he kept thinking throughout the flight how good it was to see the family had remained so grounded.
“They’re still the same people and family they always were, but just a lot more famous,” Heflin said. “It’s just great to see them sticking to their roots and knowing they’re all still down to earth.”