Black Dog Outfitter staff has hands-on experience in outdoor recreation
by BETH ALTENA
“Just think about it. We get to go to work and talk about hunting and fishing all day long,” said Ryan Wheeler, co-owner of Black Dog Outfitter (BDO), a sporting goods store at 4444 14 Mile Road.
Wheeler, a life-long Rockford resident, along with Tom Hackbardt, are thrilled with the new location of their shop, and consider Rockford an area rich with hunting and fishing opportunities as well as many men and women, who, like them, love everything outdoors and all the things and people associated with it.
“Tom and I always saw the potential for a sporting goods store in Rockford, so we teamed up and went for it,” Wheeler stated.
Both are confident that any sportsman or woman will be thrilled with the variety of gear and breadth of experience of the staff at BDO. “We enjoy nothing more than helping someone when they are trying to get into something new, whether it be a bow, rod or just some bait,” Wheeler said.
An experienced guide, Wheeler was first in business for himself in traditional archery and brings a lifetime of lake and river fishing to the company. In addition to Wheeler and Hackbardt, staff includes Jim Hackbardt and Brandy Brunette. Each brings a different expertise. Ryan Hackbardt is an avid bow hunter, but has the most experience with duck hunting and fly fishing. He is also well versed in arms and ammunition. Jim and Brandy both bow hunt, fly fish and lake fish nearly obsessively. They are also experienced bow techs.
Visitors to BDO will appreciate the tremendous diversity the team offers. “We can help you find the right fly, line, rod, choke tube, shot, duck call… whatever it may be,” said Wheeler.
Wheeler describes his store as clean and organized and his staff as very friendly. Supplies include it all: guns, ammo, archery gear, compound archery supplies, hunting and fishing gear, duck-hunting and fly-fishing equipment, techno hunt gear, bait and an indoor archery range.
The business is named after Wheeler’s black lab West, in honor of Wheeler’s background as a duck-hunting guide. With the partnership with Hackbardt, Wheeler believed the time was right to expand his guiding into a store where hunters may not only receive advice on improving the sport of their choice, but pick up the right equipment as well. The shop recently opened in the Cedar Rock business district and is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. The phone number is (616) 866-4666, and their website is blackdog-outfitters.com.
“Tom’s experience as owner of a traditional outdoor supply shop has given rise to the premier traditional outfitter in the state,” said Wheeler. “No one else has the knowledge and experience setting people up with the right equipment than Tom. Being hunters and fishermen ourselves, we enjoy being around others of a like mind.”
BDO is a place that will warrant regular visits as the inventory and sales will follow transitions from one season to the next. Stop in and see how to take your sport to the next level.