Editor’s Note: David Hale and Harold Knight formed Knight & Hale Game Calls in 1972. They have been members of the Mossy Oak family almost since the company’s beginnings.
Harold and I were looking for a better camouflage pattern than what we had been using, and we found Mossy Oak in the late 1980s. Because we were hunting against hardwoods most of the time when we were turkey and deer hunting, we wanted a camouflage pattern that would make us look like the trees where we sat. At that time, Mossy Oak had a pattern called Bottomland, which is still in production today, that looked just like the trees we leaned against when we hunted. We liked the pattern so much we decided to ask the fellow who invented that Bottomland pattern, Toxey Haas, the creator of Mossy Oak, to come deer hunting with us.
Since we like to know the folks we’re working with, we got to know Ronnie “Cuz” Strickland and the other videographers working with Mossy Oak back then too. We also invited them to the outdoor writer hunts we hosted as one of the sponsors, and they invited us to the writer hunts they hosted. Both of our companies were trying to get as much publicity as we could, because neither one of us had very much money. So, for the first few years, we hunted with Mossy Oak, and they hunted with us quite a bit. The more the Mossy Oak family got to know the Knight & Hale family, the more we liked each other and spent time with each other. Since Harold and I were in the game call business and Mossy Oak was in the camouflage business, our relationship suited us both. I guess we’ve worked with each other for almost three decades. We just really like being with the Mossy Oak people.
Our relationship with Mossy Oak got stronger because Mr. Fox Haas, Toxey’s dad, and Harold got to be fast friends. Then we got to know all the folks at Mossy Oak, and they became some of our best friends. The relationship between Knight & Hale Game Calls and Mossy Oak continued to get tighter and tighter. I'm often asked, “Why have y’all stayed a part of the Mossy Oak family for so long?” The simple reason is we haven’t seen any reason to change, and no one’s come out with a better camouflage pattern than Mossy Oak. Also, because Mossy Oak patterns blend in so well in Kentucky where we live and all of our friends up here wear Mossy Oak, being a part of Mossy Oak just seems like the natural thing to do.
We started our TV show Ultimate Hunting in 1989, and Mossy Oak was one of our major sponsors. That show aired for 25 years. Our turkey call company was formed in 1972 almost by accident. Back then, we had heard of turkey calls, but nobody knew how to build one. I was a farmer. When I needed a haircut, I went to town to get a haircut from Harold Knight. Harold had been tinkering with turkey calls, and he finally built a tube call out of a pill bottle. Back then, the only turkey calls we ever had heard of were diaphragm calls and box calls. I thought Harold’s tube call sounded better than both of them, and I knew the turkeys where we hunted had never heard anything like that tube call before. People around us started wanting us to build those pill bottle calls for them, and the demand for them was so great we started a turkey call business.
Back in those days, we made friends with some outdoors writers who also never had seen anything like our pill bottle turkey calls. They started writing about them in their magazines, and our business took off. Then we learned to make diaphragm calls, box calls and slate calls, and people started buying all them. We were just kind of feeling our way in this outdoor business stuff, and Mossy Oak was doing the same thing. We both were learning how to do business in the outdoors at the same time. So, we had a lot in common. Back in those days, there weren’t very many people who knew how to call and take wild turkeys - but the people at Mossy Oak and Harold and I knew how to do that. So, both companies taught people how to hunt and call wild turkeys, and we worked together.
Turkey hunting was really in its infancy in the 1980s. Then the sport of turkey hunting exploded nationwide, and Knight & Hale Game Calls and Mossy Oak camo were right in the middle of that turkey hunting revival. I saw the future of Mossy Oak growing during those early days, and I don’t see that growth of Mossy Oak stopping anywhere in the future. Mossy Oak has spread its wings and gotten heavily involved in a wide variety of outdoors businesses, but Harold and I are looking at backing off a little bit. We’re spending more and more time with our grandchildren, taking them hunting and fishing. I don’t foresee us getting out of the outdoors business, but we see our future as building the love and respect for the outdoors in our grandchildren as one of our major priorities right now, just like Mossy Oak has.