Addiction to the outdoors
Scott Butz has a passion for inventing hunting and fishing paraphernalia. Butz, who launched Reel Wings wind-driven, wing-flapping goose and duck decoys in 2006, now has 11 patents pending.
Scott Butz has a passion for inventing hunting and fishing paraphernalia.
Butz, who launched Reel Wings wind-driven, wing-flapping goose and duck decoys in 2006, now has 11 patents pending.
His latest creations, housed at 1122 Main Ave., Fargo, range from attachable decoy wings and ultra-violet color-changing hunting apparel to ultraviolet decoy and fishing tackle paints.
The 41-year-old has been addicted to the outdoors since childhood.
"My dad started me out when I was 5 years old," said Butz.
His father, Charles Butz, is an avid outdoorsman who owns JR Painting, a Harwood, N.D., painting business. Scott was previously company crew foreman.
Combining elements of hobby and profession has produced a new and growing enterprise.
"I had ideas. I had an investor come forward," said Scott. "We're working on a lot of things."
Scott, his father, and other business partner Mike Marcotte, have recently developed two lines of ultraviolet reflective paints called Bird Vision and Fish Vision.
Bird Vision, when applied to decoys, produces a lifelike appearance that attracts flying waterfowl.
Fishing tackle - jigs, lures and spinners - dipped in or painted with ultraviolet blue, red, white and chartreuse Fish Vision paints entice fish, said Scott.
He started testing Fish Vision five years ago and released it last year.
"You never have to recharge it with a light. It's always going to be 200 times brighter than glow paint," he said.
Chasing a dream
"I started chasing snow geese hard in the fall of 1990," said Scott. "Birds were my passion."
During idle time, he envisioned producing a better decoy - something made primarily of rubber that would dance and produce movement.
He spent a lot of time studying flocks of migrating geese.
"Out in the field, I would take knives and cut and shave," he said. "I would glue stuff at night in my vehicle. A lot of it was trial and error."
Fifteen years later, he launched Reel Wings flying decoys at the 2005 Las Vegas Shot Show.
"I was intimidated," he admits. "It's the world's largest hunting show. People had these huge booths. We showed up carrying our things on the plane."
He was cautioned not to expect a lot of sales, because it was his first year.
"Within the first hour I had orders going to Finland and New Zealand," he said. "We knew we had something then."
Today, Reel Wings decoys are sold in more than 400 stores - among them major outdoor outlets like Scheels, Cabelas and Bass Pro.
"We're big overseas," he said, in Finland, Iceland, Belgium, Sweden, Germany and Ireland.
"We sell a lot of pigeon decoys over there. We just got into that market last year. We knew nothing about it," he said.
Lots of new stuff
Scott spent several years testing UV Powered Camo, a patent-pending ultraviolet product that causes hunting clothing and paraphernalia to change color to match the environment, he said.
"It grabs your surroundings," he said. "It won't do snow and it won't do green grass."
Two years ago he released EZWings, attachable flapping wings that can be placed on all types of existing decoys.
Deadly Duos are two-sided ultraviolet decoys that hunters simply throw on the ground or attach to a stake.
What they attract depends on how they land. One model portrays a duck on one side and Canada goose on the other. A second model reverses from snow goose to blue goose.
New for 2009 are Air Wings, a wing-shaped piece that slips onto a pole and moves in winds as slow as 2 miles per hour. "They spin and dance like landing birds when the wind blows," he said.
He is introducing hunting blind kits containing ultra-violet color-changing material that can be Velcro-attached to existing blinds.
Jason Votava of Minot, N.D., has been hunting geese for more than 30 years.
His team won the 2008 Kenmare, N.D., Goose Fest.
"We were flying Reel Wings," he said. "They work well. They definitely attract geese."
At first, he was a little skeptical of the product, he said.
But not anymore.
"The Reel Wings are a neat deal. When they fly, they look good."
Readers can reach Forum Business Editor Craig McEwen at (701) 241-5502