Linda K. Burch is President of WildTech,
maker of FireTacks Trail Markers and More.
"The American Dream"
Bad Boy Buggies and the The Girls Who Love Them
Bad Boy Buggies made for the hunt
The American Dream quite simply, is coming up with a unique idea, selling it and being successful. It involves talent and timing and luck. Capitalism, a free market economy and ingenuity make the American Dream possible, but even so, many good ideas come and go as statistics can bear out. Bad Boy Buggies is another story.
A fringe of five of the Nomadic Hunting Babes, this time all outdoor industry writers, converged on Ellislie Plantation for a trophy whitetail hunt outside Natchez, Mississippi. Gathering for this hunt were hunt organizer Brenda Potts, along with Tes Jolly, Joella Bates, Alyssa Houkum and me, Linda Burch. The hunt was sponsored by Bad Boy Buggies, with Mississippi Tourism backing the event for licenses and some travel. Thompson Center Arms provided the firearms for the hunt, and Raven Wear out of Canada donated product. Ellislie Plantation owner/manager, JH James shared that his 2500 some forested and farmed acres of QDM property had been in his family for around 100 years, but that trophy whitetail management had only been seriously instituted in the last six years. That was very evident with my sighting of a nice ten point buck my first time stand.
The Girls with the guys from Bad Boy.
Bad Boy Buggies are "golf carts on steroids" says owner founder, Joe Palermo. He also calls them "SUV's", or Silent Utility Vehicles, and silent they are. The product name came from Joe as well, who freely admits he was and in many ways still is, a rebel and a "bad boy". Even the product name alliteration rolls off the tongue as easily as Joe's great stories around the dinner table each evening.
Bad Boy owner in custom Buggy with the 'girls of the hunt.'
All our hunts were fully guided, either with a guide or a cameraman for each lady hunter. Present for videography were Advernturebound Outdoors TV Show, and Chris Bracket's Extreme Aerial Bowfishing Show from Illinois. When we arrived, we sighted in our rifles for one hundred yards at the range near the lodge. Unseasonably warm weather along with mosquitoes kept the deer pretty much nocturnal and distant however. On day one, I saw several younger deer and decided to try some antler rattling to liven things up. Within ten minutes, a beautiful ten point buck came from the woods behind me at 8am, stepping into the clearing 80 yards away, looking for the action he heard. I was not allowed to shoot the buck because of the QDM restrictions however. The second day, Brenda had luck and had four bobcats approach her stand area. She took one of the cats with one perfect shot from her scoped Thompson Encore .270. The other ladies saw many animals but none of us brought venison back to camp.
Brenda with her Bobcat
On day three, we spent mid day touring the Bad Boy Buggies factory in Natchez. Now, I am a minor league manufacturer of hunting accessories so I have been the route of taking an idea from pencil drawings on a napkin to production, and from concept to point of sale, and everything in between. It's a challenging process especially for a new idea in uncharted territory where educating consumers is key. ATV's and golf carts are known commodities, but a hybrid of those two? That would be a horse of a different color. And that horse, or motor horse in this case, is Bad Boy Buggies.
Buggy making Boys
Joe Palermo with friend Bubba Kaiser built their inaugural Buggies by purchasing used golf carts and retrofitting them to make the first ever four wheel drive all electric utility vehicles. The Buggies were debuted at the 2003 SHOT show within months of the first prototypes being built, and they sold a stunning 85 units their first time out. People took notice. Nowadays the highly customized Buggies have non essential parts made in China, with critical components like batteries, tires, differentials and motors being US made. All Buggies are assembled in the US at the Bad Boy Buggies assembly plant in Natchez. 15 Buggies are built per day now and Joe estimates 5000 Buggies will be made in 2007 and sold through their more than 140 authorized dealers. Revenues prove the Buggies popularity with sales of $9 million in 2005, and $17 million in 2006. The Buggies retail from about $8500 for the basic version to about $10,000 for the stretch version, with a number of additional options to choose from.
ATVs get stuck in a creek. Bad Boy to the rescue
So, from my personal perspective, the decided advantages of the Bad Boy Buggies over my own traditional ATV are many. First, the Buggies are virtually noise and odor free. When motoring to our stands in the dark, or leaving after last light at the end of the day, the only noise I could hear was the leaves crunching under the fat nubbly wheels. This meant super quiet approaches to our stands and deer were not scared off or educated to our presence like they get to be with the engine noise of an ATV. The Buggies also legally seat from 2-8 people depending upon the model, and their hauling capacity is amazing for guns and gear. The Buggies plug in to recharge their eight 6 volt waterproof batteries and go an amazing 28-35 miles on flatter roads or 16-20 miles with heavy hunting use. The Buggies weigh in at 1700 pounds for a two seater and up to 1800 pounds for the stretch model. There is an 800 pound loading maximum for people and gear. Even more amazing is that Bad Boy Buggies can be ridden hard and go through water up to six inches deep without skipping a beat. Each of us ladies got the chance to drive the Buggies through a stream bed at high speed to prove this endurance. The batteries are not only waterproof but will last 3-5 years if maintained properly. Batteries can be charged from a standard outlet or from as small as a 2000 watt generator.
Bad weather won't stop a Bad Boy
As I stood at the center of the Bad Boy Buddies 80,000 square foot plant in Mississippi, watching the dozens of local people doing everything from assembly to forklift to blow torch, I could feel the sense of pride not only of the owners giving us the tour, but of everyone who worked there. They all had caught the energy of this American Dream and were enjoying the ride: The silent ride of the energy wise high torque Bad Boy Buggies - a great idea whose time has come.