TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — A local knife maker drove just over 300 miles to West Monroe, La., on Sept. 30 to present a 15-pound "pocket" knife to Jase Robertson, one of the stars of A&E's popular "Duck Dynasty" television series.
"I just wanted to make it for him," said Wayne Bridges, 67. "I watch 'Duck Dynasty' and he's my favorite character. He's got plenty of money so he can buy whatever he wants, but this is something that I handmade."
Unfortunately, Duck Commander — where Jase and other cast members work to make duck calls for the family business — was closed for construction, and some of the family was out of town for the week.
Instead, Bridges met with Alan Robertson, Jase's older brother, at the family church and left the knife with him. Bridges said everyone had a fit over the knife when he showed it to them.
Bridges has been making knives at his house on U.S. Highway 43 in Northport for 40 years. The hobby started when a friend asked him to fix a broken handle on one of his knives.
"When I fixed the handle, the handle looked so much better than the knife that I just started making knives," he said.
The first knife he made took him about a day, but now he can create them much faster. Looking at that knife, he said he has come a long way in 40 years.
"You can tell I didn't do a real good job on it, but I was proud of it back then," he said. "It helps me to show where you start at and where you end up at. There is always room for improvement, and I have made every mistake that you can make, but you learn from your mistakes."
At first, Bridges just made knives for himself and his three sons, but soon people starting asking him to make them for people outside the family.
He said the first knife he made for someone else was for a local dentist who saw him working on a knife and asked him to make one for her husband.
Then, he sold the knives for between $25 and $35. Today he sells them for $150 and up.
"Materials have gotten so high, and you've got to count your time," he said. "I make more money off my furniture than I do my knives, but I love making knives. When you love doing something, you can't always put a price tag on it."