Just before I started working for Toxey Haas and Mossy Oak (see Day 1), a fellow named Will Primos from Jackson, Mississippi, was making turkey calls that he called a True Double-Mouth call for calling turkeys. Will was making those calls in a garage behind his house. About that same time, the first video camera that I ever saw or heard of arrived at the Sears and Roebuck store in Natchez, Mississippi. A friend of mine, Gary Porter, bought that video camera, came to the sporting-goods store and showed it to me. Back in those days, outdoorsmen loved to rent outdoor videos. In less than 24 hours, Gary Porter and I had put camo tape and pinned leaves on that video camera to camouflage it. Every morning we would get up and go turkey hunting, and I’d run the video camera. People would come by the sporting-goods store where I worked in Natchez, Miss., to see the videos we had shot that morning. Then Gary let me use his camera to go turkey hunting with other people. I’d blow that True turkey call; we’d film a hunter taking a turkey; and I’d send all that video to Will Primos with a note that said, “Look what we killed with your True Double-Mouth turkey call.”
One day out of the blue, Will Primos showed up at the sporting-goods store and had this giant video camera that I was sure he’d bought from some TV station. That camera was huge! Will asked me, “Can you film a turkey hunt with this camera?” So, I learned how to turn that camera on and off. The camera had a big cord that plugged into a recording deck, and I figured out how to put the recording deck in a backpack. I got a tripod that had a lead head and wooden legs, and I made a belt that kind of looked like an army ammunition belt for the batteries. I put all that on the scales, and this video camera weighed 85 pounds. I put a shotgun sling on the camera handle and the tripod leg, and I put that sling over my head. I looked like an army man carrying a flame thrower in World War II. That camera rig was the beginning of my weight loss program – every bit as good as the one Jenny Craig started. Once I put that camera and all the goodies that went with it on, walked through the woods and climbed mountains, I guarantee that I lost weight.
I filmed Will calling turkeys that spring. The next year Will asked me to work fulltime as his cameraman, and I did. Will met Toxey, and they became friends. Will and I started wearing Mossy Oak. Filming full time meant that I often had to be gone from home, and Pam and I had little children. So, I eventually returned to work at the sporting-goods store in Natchez to spend more time with my family. Will and Jimmy Primos were both an important part of Mossy Oak in the early days. All the videos Will made back then were filmed with hunters wearing Mossy Oak. Mossy Oak got a lot of exposure through Will Primos’s turkey hunting and deer hunting videos.
Thirty years later that first video I did with Will titled, “The Truth of Turkey Hunting,” is still being used and sold today. When Will started filming, not many people were doing hunting videos. Then I started videoing for Toxey, and we’d give some of that video footage to Will to use in his turkey and deer hunting videos to show how effective Mossy Oak camouflage was in the hunting environment. Camouflage is not like a rifle, a shotgun, a scope or a pair of boots. Once you see Mossy Oak camouflage in a video, you’ll recognize how effective it is, as the deer and turkeys came in really close to the hunter and never saw him.
Day 1: How Ronnie “Cuz” Strickland Became Involved with Mossy Oak