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30 Years of Mossy Oak: Bill Zearing


Editor’s Note: The founder and president of Cody Calls, Bill Zearing of Halifax, Pennsylvania, named his company Cody Calls after his son Cody. Cody Calls makes top-notch, pot-type friction turkey calls. 

I registered my trademark for Cody Turkey Calls in 1982 after building my first wood-pot style friction call in 1981. Today, I make glass, slate and box style turkey calls. I was honored to be asked by the folks at Mossy Oak to help out and guide for Mossy Oak’s very first turkey hunt in Texas. 

My first association with Mossy Oak was when I got a phone call from Mossy Oak’s national sales manager at that time, the late Bob Dixon, who asked me to build a call for him for his personal use. I built the call and sent it to Bob. A few weeks later, Bob called me and said, “Bill, Mossy Oak is putting on a turkey hunt for some of its customers and writers in Texas. I’d like to invite you to come down, meet our folks, be a part of the hunt and help guide some of our friends.” Well, when I got to Texas, I was treated like a long-lost cousin, although I didn’t know anyone in the company but Bob.  

Zearing30_llThat first Texas hunt seemed to have been promoted and talked about all over the world. That’s where I met Ronnie “Cuz” Strickland, then an outdoor writer, Eddie Lee Rider, a famous writer and publisher, Toxey Haas, the founder of Mossy Oak, Mr. Fox (Toxey’s Dad), Bill Sugg, today Mossy Oak’s President, and many of the folks who are now top executives with Mossy Oak. We stayed in a place I’ll never forget named the Skunk House. What I really enjoyed about the hunt was it was held on a working cattle ranch. I’ve got pictures of wild turkeys coming to calls, strutting and drumming as well as photos of all the people on that hunt. 

When the hunt ended, I hardly could believe that I’d had the opportunity not only to meet a good number of outdoor writers, but I also had been able to hunt with the executives at Mossy Oak. But what impressed me was they didn’t act like executives. They acted like the kind of turkey hunters you’d want to meet and spend time with anywhere you hunted in the country. As I mentioned earlier, they treated me like kinfolk. I’ve been a Mossy Oak Pro for almost three decades, because not only do I like Mossy Oak camouflage and think it’s the best, I like the people associated with Mossy Oak and being with them. I’ve hunted from Texas to Kansas to Georgia to Mississippi to Florida and many other states with the Mossy Oak team, their customers and writers. I’ve helped guide for these hunts. 

I’m often asked, “Why have you continued to be a Mossy Oak Pro for 30 years?” Because I turkey hunt and guide turkey hunters, I know how effective Mossy Oak camouflage is to make me invisible to the turkeys. However, to me, Mossy Oak is more than a company. I have a deep friendship with the Mossy Oak folks, and that friendship has grown and developed over many, many years. I’ve had many opportunities with other camo companies and manufacturers to become one of their pros. They’ve promised to send me clothing, take me on many trips and even give my company free advertising if I’d became one of their pros. However, I’ve always explained that Mossy Oak is my family, and I’m not going to leave my family for anything. 

Zearing30_2_llThe Mossy Oak people not only wear and promote the Mossy Oak brand; they live the Mossy Oak life, hunting, practicing stewardship of the land, treating others like they want to be treated and being proud of their American heritage. Many people are surprised when they ask me, “What’s your favorite pattern?” and I tell them, the original Bottomland. I’ve used all the Mossy Oak patterns, and I think they all fit different types of terrain and foliage. However, when I’m hunting for my own recreation, I’ll still be wearing that Bottomland pattern on which the company was built. If you look at almost all the patterns that Mossy Oak has produced, often somewhere in the background, you’ll be able to spot that old Bottomland pattern.

I’ve been asked why Mossy Oak has grown such a big company. If I have to describe the ingredients that caused the phenomenal growth of the company, those words are friendship and loyalty. They view their customers as friends, not as clients. When they go hunting with their customers, writers, and/or consumers and someone takes a turkey, a deer, or a big game animal, there are high-fives, hugs and great talk and reminiscing around the campfire. That is pure business, Mossy Oak style. The Mossy Oak executives would bring their children on hunts with them. I think there’s nothing more powerful in business than a man or a woman listening to his or her child talk about his first big hunt, the people who made it happen, and good food and a good time. That type of marketing is much different than what we see in the hurry-up, get-it-done atmosphere of today’s business. I’ve never considered abandoning the Zearing family or my Mossy Oak family.

To learn more about Cody Turkey Calls, you can go to


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