The beginning tale of cock Cabela, who founded the outdoor-goods chain Cabela’s, and also who passed away this week, in ~ the period of seventy-seven, begins with fishing flies. In 1961, according to agency lore, Cabela to buy forty-five dollars’ precious of hand-tied lures to sell at his family’s furniture store, in Nebraska. Customers weren’t interested, so Cabela purchase an advertisement in the magazine Sports Afield, offering five flies in exchange because that twenty-five cents in postage. When civilization wrote in to redeem the offer, he put their name on a e-mail list, which that blasted v three-page-long catalogues of fishing gear.

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Today, Cabela’s has actually $3.5 exchange rate in yearly revenue. That is fifty shop look like huge log cabins, and also inside the them thousands of taxidermied animals grapple in lifelike poses—grizzlies behind up, rams was standing atop plaster hills like numbers on a wedding cake. Cabela’s exhibits have been explained as “natural-history museums,” and its stores room billed as tourist destinations. When a Cabela’s opened up this past October, in Waco, Texas, human being lined up exterior for hours in the rain, starting at 8 A.M. Top top the ahead day.

The expansion of Cabela’s mirrors Americans’ odd connection with the outdoors: us mythologize it also as us pave that over. To accommodate their bulk and the crowds that they attract, Cabela’s stores room often constructed next come interstates and also surrounded by gigantic parking lots. Generally, the only wildlife in sight space the crows picking over the litter. Few of the newest branches are on the edge of cities—Denver, Austin—that epitomize sprawl. In Greenville, south Carolina, wherein Cabela’s to plan to open up on a congested retail piece in April, various other retailers space worried that web traffic jams will scare away your customers.

Cabela’s has lobbied for millions of dollars in advance subsidies to open up stores. As soon as it opened a store in Hazelwood, Missouri, a resident, Carl Fischer, complained come the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “It is ironic that Hazelwood is payment Cabela’s $5 million to develop a nature museum in a mall the was built on 500 acre of green room and around 50 acres of wetland. Prior to long, there won’t be any kind of place left to use the stuff Cabela’s sells. Probably we have the right to take our new tent and cooler and also go camping in the nature ‘museum.’ ”

Dick Cabela travelled the civilization shooting big game, and also his mansion in Sidney, Nebraska, is a showplace for his trophy animals. In an at-home interview that he carried out with Wayne LaPierre, the chief executive of the national Rifle Association, posted on the store’s web site, the camera pans lovingly end the stuffed dead body of a giraffe, a rhinoceros, and an elephant. Cabela wears a camouflage blazer; his wife, Mary, sitting beside him, is in one American-flag sweater. (Mary is detailed as a co-founder that the company, however her role is commonly glossed over.) at the end of the segment, penis says to LaPierre, “Hunting is a taste of freedom.”

Cabela’s, which has actually donated an ext than a million dollars to the N.R.A., benefitted from an increase of the purchases of guns and also bullets through lot of 2013 sparked in huge part through fears that the Obama management would restrict total sales after ~ the high-profile fixed shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, and Aurora, Colorado. Critical year, Cabela’s revenue increased an ext than fifteen every cent, and its stock price rose more than fifty every cent.

But, together the White House has done little to breakthrough its gun-control agenda, those fears have actually ebbed, and also so have Cabela’s sales. Critical week, the agency reported disappointed fourth-quarter earnings—the camouflage pants and also waterproof boots that guys are buying expense a lot less than, say, a Mossberg semiautomatic rifle ($199.99, February’s advertised special). “The surging in firearms and ammunition is plainly winding down,” the company’s cook executive, Tommy Millner, said.

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Dick Cabela embodied two, look at contradictory, strains that American people hero: the frontiersman, typified by Daniel Boone, and the bootstrapping businessman of a Horatio Alger novel. In this, he resembles the Robertsons the the A&E truth TV show “Duck Dynasty,” that knowingly cater come redneck stereotypes while structure Duck Commander, their financially rewarding family duck-call business. The show has created an approximated four hundreds million dollars in goods tie-ins. Cabela’s tote a selection of “Duck Dynasty” products, and also it preserved them ~ above shelves when Phil Robertson, among the show’s stars, to be briefly suspended for comments he made come GQ about homosexuality. The routine remains among the most popular cable shows, which problem a lot come companies, choose Cabela’s, that room trying to gain a younger generation interested in hunting. (The number of hunting licenses issued each year has been flat for the past decade.) Duck Commander and Mossberg space marketing a brand-new line of guns, yet it’s unknown even if it is Cabela’s will certainly stock them.

Of course, what it looks favor to have weapons in the hand of kids depends on wherein you live: perform you envision 4-H members shooting at a document target in an north field, or teen-agers settling a conflict in an city neighborhood? In his interview through LaPierre, cock Cabela lamented his struggles to lure a younger audience, may be unaware that the double definition of his words, “We’re losing our youth, huge time, particularly in the inner cities.”