Editor’s Note: Dick Kirby, the founder of Quaker Boy Calls in Orchard Park, New York, had been making game calls for 10 years before Mossy Oak came on the hunting scene. In those days, turkey hunting was a new phenomenon. Some states had restocked turkeys, and the flocks had been growing. Very few hunters then knew how to hunt turkeys, but Dick Kirby and Toxey Haas, the creator of Mossy Oak, were on the leading edge of helping to teach thousands of hunters about the joys of turkey hunting.
According to Chris Kirby, “Quaker Boy is 40 years old now, and Mossy Oak is 30 years old. Quaker Boy and Mossy Oak have more or less grown up together in the hunting industry. Although Quaker Boy is in the far Northeast and Mossy Oak is located in the Deep South, the one thing that has connected both companies is the wild turkey - not just the hunting of the wild turkey but also helping to promote the restocking and reintroduction efforts of these great birds throughout the nation. Both companies were dedicated to teaching hunters how to find and take these birds. So, there was always the turkey connection. The National Wild Turkey Federation connection linked both companies together, too. Toxey Haas is passionate about the wild turkey and my dad, Dick Kirby, was just as passionate about wild turkeys his entire life. In those days, the wild turkey helped drive both businesses.
“Toxey and my dad had a fraternity-type connection because in those days, just about everyone who hunted the wild turkey, made turkey calls, produced camouflage and competed in turkey-calling contests knew each other. I can’t remember a time when my dad and Toxey weren’t friends. The patterns that Mossy Oak was producing then perhaps were more specific to me for turkey hunters than for deer hunters. If a turkey couldn’t see you, then a deer surely couldn’t. I’m sure my dad gave Toxey a sack full of turkey calls, and Toxey gave my dad a sack full of camouflage. My dad and Toxey also would see each other at the yearly SHOT Show and other trade show events.
“We were in the video business, and Mossy Oak was also in the video and television business, so Toxey started sending camera crews to film my dad turkey hunting. Tack Robinson was a videographer for Mossy Oak in those days, and he became more and more of a link between Mossy Oak and Quaker Boy. About 20 years ago at a SHOT Show, Tack came over to our booth and said, ‘We’d like to do more videos and TV shows with you and your dad.’ Quaker Boy was developing new and different turkey calls back then like we are today, and Mossy Oak was developing new and better camouflage patterns. So, there was a lot of synergy between the two companies. The people at Mossy Oak and the people at Quaker Boy also became great friends. They were our buddies as well as people we worked with in our industry. In those days, most of the outdoors business being done was friends working with friends, especially in the turkey-calling industry, because that segment of the outdoors was really the newest and fastest-growing sport at that time.
“I never will forget when Tack Robinson came to New York to video a turkey hunt with me and my dad. We had a really tough hunt, but we succeeded in taking a wild turkey gobbler. Dad called in a tom. The turkey came in behind us and got above us, but Dad made a great shot. We got the footage that Tack wanted. My dad traveled the country hunting all the species of wild turkey every year, and Mossy Oak sent a cameraman with him on many different hunts for a wide variety of turkeys. From hunting with the Mossy Oak family, we learned how much the company cared about wildlife conservation and coming up with innovative new products for the turkey hunter. So, there was a natural pairing of the Quaker Boy people and the Mossy Oak people. We all just became one big family. I can remember, also many years ago, when Mossy Oak asked me to go to Bent Creek Lodge in Jachin, Alabama, and help guide a group of outdoors writers. I got to spend a lot of time with the Mossy Oak family and the writers on that trip. Some of my dad’s and my best friends have been Mossy Oak people. I was fortunate enough to win the World Turkey Calling Championship in 1995 while wearing Mossy Oak camouflage. Mossy Oak was the lead sponsor for that event back then, and it was a tremendous honor for me to win.
“I can’t remember a time when I haven’t been involved in Quaker Boy. When my dad passed away, I became president of Quaker Boy. About 7 years ago, Tack started talking to me about the idea of the Turkey THUGS TV show. Later, Ronnie ‘Cuz’ Strickland sat down with me and explained that THUG was an acronym for Today’s Hunters United for Good, and that the mission behind the THUG program was to take a portion of the sales from THUGS merchandise and give that money to organizations helping veterans coming back from overseas’ wars to celebrate the sacrifices that these men/women and their families had made to defend our freedoms and this great nation. Once I understood what the Mossy Oak Turkey and Deer THUGS program was doing, then working with them to develop that program became a no-brainer. We signed on to help sponsor the Turkey THUGS program as the exclusive provider of the Mossy Oak Turkey THUGS turkey calls produced by Quaker Boy. Working together, those Turkey THUGS calls and the amount of money given to organizations that support our veterans when they returned home from war has been one of the leading programs in the turkey-hunting industry and today is touching people all over the world.
“To deepen their support for the wild turkey, Mossy Oak has become the official camo pattern of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF). I really appreciate that not many people at Mossy Oak talk about how the company continues to give back to charities and to support conservation organizations like the NWTF and others. Since the time I was a youngster, my dad’s mission with the Quaker Boy Company was to always give back to conservation organizations and the conservation movement to help ensure that there always would be wild turkeys for sportsmen hunt. Toxey and all the people who work for Mossy Oak have this same type of dedication that my dad, the Quaker Boy Company and I have had. We’re blessed to be able to do what we do, and both companies always will give back to the sport and the sportsmen who have allowed us to be a part of the outdoors industry.
“Looking forward, I can see the growth of both Mossy Oak and Quaker Boy, and I can see the relationship between the two companies continue to grow stronger. Mossy Oak is a part of the Quaker Boy family, and Quaker Boy is a part of the Mossy Oak family. We both want to make the world a better place for others. Anytime we can partner together to make that dream come true, I know we will. The philosophy of Mossy Oak and Quaker Boy is the same. Both companies have a love of the outdoors, a love of our wild resources, our faith in God and everything that’s good in life. So, anytime we can work together to help others that’s where we both want to be.”