Founders

Hunter Strickland    Co-founder and CEO   One of my earliest memories is camping with my siblings and dad. When you grow up with four brothers and two sisters in a small town, your house rarely can contain the chaos. We usually ended up outdoors playing sports or exploring the woods. My brothers and I lived for the weekends with our dad. We would stay in a small single room shed that had a wood burning stove. We would spend our days hunting whitetail deer and our nights sitting around the campfire. These memories with my dad and brothers are some that I cherish most from my childhood, and are the roots to my passion for hunting.  As we got older, our lives started to branch off into different paths. Our group hunting trips happened less often, and we found ourselves hunting whenever we could, separately. One afternoon, a buddy and I were squirrel hunting on his dad’s property, when we stumbled upon some wood ducks. Both avid hunters, but with no waterfowl experience, we started coming up with a plan to hunt the swamp. I called Rhett to join us the next morning. Needless to say, we had a successful morning and were from that moment hooked.  There was a running joke in high school with my now wife’s family, that I would go around to houses, knock on their door, and say “Hey, my name is Hunter Strickland. Can I hunt your property?”. Sadly, there was some truth to this! If you have not gotten the idea yet, I sort of love hunting! Since majority of Georgia hunting takes place on private property, and we had no money to lease property, my brothers and I learned the art of asking. After school, we would drive around the county, knock on doors, and try to get permission to hunt as many swamps as possible. One benefit of living in a small town is community and generous people who did not mind helping out a bunch of hometown kids.  In 2007, I was drafted by the Boston Red Sox out of high school. At eighteen years old, I packed a few bags and headed out to rookie ball. After two and half years with their organization, I was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Packing up and heading to a completely new organization can be intimidating. Fortunately, no matter where I went there always seemed to be other players who shared the same passion for the outdoors. I have always found baseball and hunting to be very similar. For example, just as it is important to stay alert while hunting so is it with baseball. Because when you least expect it you may find yourself in another transition. This is exactly what happened to me in 2013 when I was claimed off waivers by the San Francisco Giants. My wife was about to graduate college, when suddenly we find ourselves moving across the country. Then, two months into my best season, my elbow popped. This led to Tommy John surgery, and as you can imagine, a disappointing end to my season.  Another similarity between these two sports is perseverance, especially when facing adversity. Ten and a half months after my surgery I appeared in my first minor league game. Later that season, I received my first call to the Major Leagues. Pitching against the Colorado Rockies that day, I finally accomplished my childhood dream of reaching the majors. My whirlwind month in the big leagues was followed by an even crazier October in the playoffs. In the end, we won the World Series. I am grateful for everyday I have been given the opportunity to play this game, both the gut wrenching and the unbelievable memories- because I believe that through adversity is when you learn the most about yourself!

Hunter Strickland

Co-founder and CEO

One of my earliest memories is camping with my siblings and dad. When you grow up with four brothers and two sisters in a small town, your house rarely can contain the chaos. We usually ended up outdoors playing sports or exploring the woods. My brothers and I lived for the weekends with our dad. We would stay in a small single room shed that had a wood burning stove. We would spend our days hunting whitetail deer and our nights sitting around the campfire. These memories with my dad and brothers are some that I cherish most from my childhood, and are the roots to my passion for hunting.

As we got older, our lives started to branch off into different paths. Our group hunting trips happened less often, and we found ourselves hunting whenever we could, separately. One afternoon, a buddy and I were squirrel hunting on his dad’s property, when we stumbled upon some wood ducks. Both avid hunters, but with no waterfowl experience, we started coming up with a plan to hunt the swamp. I called Rhett to join us the next morning. Needless to say, we had a successful morning and were from that moment hooked.

There was a running joke in high school with my now wife’s family, that I would go around to houses, knock on their door, and say “Hey, my name is Hunter Strickland. Can I hunt your property?”. Sadly, there was some truth to this! If you have not gotten the idea yet, I sort of love hunting! Since majority of Georgia hunting takes place on private property, and we had no money to lease property, my brothers and I learned the art of asking. After school, we would drive around the county, knock on doors, and try to get permission to hunt as many swamps as possible. One benefit of living in a small town is community and generous people who did not mind helping out a bunch of hometown kids.

In 2007, I was drafted by the Boston Red Sox out of high school. At eighteen years old, I packed a few bags and headed out to rookie ball. After two and half years with their organization, I was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Packing up and heading to a completely new organization can be intimidating. Fortunately, no matter where I went there always seemed to be other players who shared the same passion for the outdoors. I have always found baseball and hunting to be very similar. For example, just as it is important to stay alert while hunting so is it with baseball. Because when you least expect it you may find yourself in another transition. This is exactly what happened to me in 2013 when I was claimed off waivers by the San Francisco Giants. My wife was about to graduate college, when suddenly we find ourselves moving across the country. Then, two months into my best season, my elbow popped. This led to Tommy John surgery, and as you can imagine, a disappointing end to my season.

Another similarity between these two sports is perseverance, especially when facing adversity. Ten and a half months after my surgery I appeared in my first minor league game. Later that season, I received my first call to the Major Leagues. Pitching against the Colorado Rockies that day, I finally accomplished my childhood dream of reaching the majors. My whirlwind month in the big leagues was followed by an even crazier October in the playoffs. In the end, we won the World Series. I am grateful for everyday I have been given the opportunity to play this game, both the gut wrenching and the unbelievable memories- because I believe that through adversity is when you learn the most about yourself!

Rhett Strickland    Co-founder and President   Growing up with four other brothers, our lives revolved around the outdoors. My dad was raised hunting and naturally, that passion was bred into us. I can still vividly remember loading up the truck and heading out to our camp for the weekend to hunt.  When we were boys, our days were spent chasing squirrels through the hardwoods and rabbits through the briar patches. However, it was not until we discovered whitetail hunting that we became addicted. Addicted to the adventure, to the rush, but mostly, addicted to the challenge. And for young boys, it was a challenge to just keep us quiet and still, and to learn to be patient in the wait.  As we grew older and hunted more on our own, I began to feel like something was missing. That is when Hunter and I decided to broaden our hunting experiences and went on a few waterfowl hunts.  We were deep rooted in big game hunting, so it took us a little by surprise at how quickly we were consumed with waterfowl. Each year as waterfowl season opened, we were switching out our bows and rifles for a shotgun. There was only one thing missing those first couple years in the swamp, and that was our dad. He had never experienced waterfowl, but we knew our experience would not be complete without him with us. Just as we expected, he had an absolute blast! Ever since his first duck hunting experience, it has been hard to go hunting without him riding shotgun. But we would not have it any other way.  After graduating, I headed off to school to attend Abraham Baldwin Agriculture College. There I studied landscaping on an academic scholarship. Coming from a small town with one red light in the square, I felt right at home in this farming town. Farming was actually my first part-time job during my freshman year. I loved spending my days cultivating the land, all the while dreaming about hunting. As fun as those couple of years away were, I missed being home with my family.  After graduation, I packed up and headed back home. I bought my first house and started a landscaping company. I am not sure if I was drawn to landscaping because I loved to be outdoors, or if it was because I knew the job would be slow in the winter months when hunting revved up. Either way, it worked out great for me. Being able to jump right back into hunting with my dad and brothers was like a breath of fresh air. Cold and wet air, but refreshing nonetheless.

Rhett Strickland

Co-founder and President

Growing up with four other brothers, our lives revolved around the outdoors. My dad was raised hunting and naturally, that passion was bred into us. I can still vividly remember loading up the truck and heading out to our camp for the weekend to hunt.

When we were boys, our days were spent chasing squirrels through the hardwoods and rabbits through the briar patches. However, it was not until we discovered whitetail hunting that we became addicted. Addicted to the adventure, to the rush, but mostly, addicted to the challenge. And for young boys, it was a challenge to just keep us quiet and still, and to learn to be patient in the wait.

As we grew older and hunted more on our own, I began to feel like something was missing. That is when Hunter and I decided to broaden our hunting experiences and went on a few waterfowl hunts.

We were deep rooted in big game hunting, so it took us a little by surprise at how quickly we were consumed with waterfowl. Each year as waterfowl season opened, we were switching out our bows and rifles for a shotgun. There was only one thing missing those first couple years in the swamp, and that was our dad. He had never experienced waterfowl, but we knew our experience would not be complete without him with us. Just as we expected, he had an absolute blast! Ever since his first duck hunting experience, it has been hard to go hunting without him riding shotgun. But we would not have it any other way.

After graduating, I headed off to school to attend Abraham Baldwin Agriculture College. There I studied landscaping on an academic scholarship. Coming from a small town with one red light in the square, I felt right at home in this farming town. Farming was actually my first part-time job during my freshman year. I loved spending my days cultivating the land, all the while dreaming about hunting. As fun as those couple of years away were, I missed being home with my family.

After graduation, I packed up and headed back home. I bought my first house and started a landscaping company. I am not sure if I was drawn to landscaping because I loved to be outdoors, or if it was because I knew the job would be slow in the winter months when hunting revved up. Either way, it worked out great for me. Being able to jump right back into hunting with my dad and brothers was like a breath of fresh air. Cold and wet air, but refreshing nonetheless.

BUILDING AVES

In 2015, while playing for the San Francisco Giants, Hunter met some fellow outdoorsmen who were doing creative things in the hunting industry. He was intrigued by the quality of gear, but more by their business models that bypassed retail stores and was sold direct-to-consumer.  He wondered, “why is this not being applied to the waterfowl industry?”.  Seeing the hard work and success of his new friends inspired Hunter to bring advanced gear into the duck hunting scene.  

He also knew that he could not do this alone and immediately, his brother Rhett came to mind.  The two had previously worked together on another very small hunting company along with some of Hunter’s former teammates.  The brothers not only shared a room growing up but also share a love for the outdoors, the determination to develop the most advanced waterfowl gear, and the work ethic to make AVES come to life. 

Over the next year, after researching the industry and dissecting the current gear on the market, it became more apparent that the two wanted to challenge themselves to develop something new in the industry.  Hunter and Rhett began contacting and meeting with a few of the world’s leading manufacturers to help make this dream become a reality.  With AVES being the first and only waterfowl gear company to use the direct-to-consumer model, you can rest assure that we are using the absolute best materials, fabrics, insulation, and hardware and will be offering them to you at wholesale pricing!