provided by John Phillips
Mossy Oak has two basic philosophies: live your best life in the outdoors and leave it better than you’ve found it. Mossy Oak began as a camouflage company 34-years ago in West Point, Mississippi, and was founded by Toxey Haas when he introduced his first camouflage, Bottomland. Since that time, Haas Outdoors has become a multi-faceted company dealing with almost everything to do with the outdoors and an outdoor lifestyle through its Brands. Mossy Oak Brand Camo, Mossy Oak Fishing, BioLogic, Nativ Nurseries, GameKeepers, GameKeeper Kennels, Mossy Oak Properties, Nativ Living, MOOSE Media and Mossy Oak Golf.
Bill Sugg was the first employee of the company and has worked and contributed to its growth in many capacities, including as a salesman, production manager, vice president of operations and for the past 10 years as president of Haas Outdoors – doing whatever needed to done. Haas Outdoors has a vital concern about the conservation of land and the animals on it, as well as how that land’s used. A primary focus of the company has been helping young people become more involved in the outdoors, including people with special needs and anyone wanting to learn more and become a part of the outdoors heritage we share.
Here are some things you may not know about Mossy Oak and the numerous endeavors the company takes to improve outdoor experiences for everyone.
Editor: Why has conservation taken priority in Mossy Oak’s message and focus?
Sugg: Toxey Haas has been, is and will always be about conservation. Conservation is what Mossy Oak is. The people at Mossy Oak know that if we don’t take care of the natural resources that God has given us, they won’t be available to be passed on to future generations. Conservation isn’t about stopping loggers and foresters from cutting trees or stopping the harvesting of fish and animals. Conservation is about everything that’s involved in continuing to have healthy populations of both fish and wildlife as well as helping forestry, agriculture and all those things that the leaders in our country are also trying to preserve. We are in favor, too, of unwinding some of the regulations present today that may inhibit conservation practices and outdoors businesses.
Conservation is the future of Mossy Oak, our outdoors heritage and the outdoors industry. Without conservation, sportsmen and their families can’t go hunting and fishing. If there’s no land available or wildlife or fish populations on that land, there’s no opportunity for outdoors pursuits. Sportsmen won’t need to buy camouflage and fishing rods, if the opportunity and the access to the land and water aren’t preserved. Mossy Oak has the philosophy of leaving the land better than we’ve found it, whether that means improving two acres or 20,000. We’ve learned that improving habitat is a whole new way of enjoying the outdoors and the wildlife and the fish that live on that land and in those waters.
What we at Mossy Oak try to do is encourage people to be conservationists for the long term, starting at a young age and continuing on through life, to enjoy their best lives outdoors. Research has been done and shows that enjoying the outdoors that God has given us is beneficial to your life and to your health. Mossy Oak realizes there are many different ways and activities to enjoy in nature. Mossy Oak wants to encourage everyone to get outdoors and be good stewards of the outdoors.
Editor: What is the Fox Haas Scholarship?
Sugg: We were fortunate enough some years ago to start a scholarship at Mississippi State University to honor our founder Toxey Haas’s dad and mentor, Fox Haas, a graduate of MSU, whose philosophy is, “I believe the good we do will live long after we’re gone.” The Fox Haas Mossy Oak Endowed Scholarship in the College of Forest Resources provides funds for young men and women.
The entire scholarship is about $100,000, and since the money is given as needed, I don’t know the exact amount given to each student. This scholarship to honor Mr. Fox has been set up to endow itself, so that there will be monies available to help young people wanting to go into those disciplines and career fields.
Editor: What does a young person need to do to get more information on the Fox Haas Mossy Oak Scholarship and learn how to apply?
Sugg: Anyone interested in this wonderful scholarship should contact Mississippi State University’s College of Forest Resources, Jeff Little, at 662-325-8151.
Editor: The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) put out a fact sheet in 2020 stating that there are more than 300,000 jobs in the hunting and shooting industry. What are some options for young people in the outdoor industry of which they may not be aware?
Bill Sugg: At the SHOT (Shooting Hunting Outdoors and Trade) Show in 2020, over 2,000 companies from this country and all over the world were represented. Each of those companies hires young people to help sell their products, represent their brands and connect with potential customers of like interests. I understand that for next year the SHOT Show is building another building to house possibly another 2,000+ companies that have been wanting and waiting to get in to the SHOT Show to display their wares and ideas. So, the number of job options for people wanting to work with outdoors companies is growing tremendously. And, other outdoor shows like ICAST for fishing and the Archery Trade Association (ATA) also hold trade shows annually. I think the many ways a young person can become a part of the outdoor industry are growing by leaps and bounds. All these companies add billions of dollars to our nation’s economy, and those companies create jobs for more and more people.
Editor: Many people only know Mossy Oak as a camouflage company. But Mossy Oak has extended its brand far past just this. What are some of the other companies under the Mossy Oak banner?
Sugg: Our effort and focus is to lend our brand to help people do more in the outdoors. Some of the companies that carry the Mossy Oak brand are in the hunting and fishing industry, including:
- BioLogic - seeds and products used for food plots to increase nutrition for wildlife and fertilizer and fish food to improve ponds
- Nativ Nurseries - grows trees and shrubs that outdoorsmen and land managers can plant that will provide food for wildlife
- Nativ Living - offers outdoor-lifestyle inspired furniture and decor for the home, lodge or cabins
- GameKeepers - disseminates information on how to improve land and water for wildlife and fish
- GameKeeper Kennels - breeds, raises and trains a special line of British Labrador retrievers
- MOOSE Media - works with the Pursuit Channel and other TV channels and production groups that are producing outdoor content for television and social media and also providing marketing options for people within the outdoor industry
- Mossy Oak Properties - since everything dealing with the outdoors and conservation is based on the land, we have skilled professionals who help consumers find the types and sizes of outdoor properties they want for their preferred outdoor activities.