Editor’s Note: Seventy-two-year-old Harold Knight and 70-year-old David Hale created one of the most successful game call companies in the nation when they founded Knight and Hale Game Calls. Early in their careers they became part of Mossy Oak and have been in the Mossy Oak family for 28 years.
I met David Hale in 1970. I was a barber, and David was a farmer. David heard that I was making turkey calls. He came by the barber shop to buy one, but he also got a haircut. In 1972, we started Knight & Hale Game Calls. When you can see someone every day for 41 years, and he's still your best friend, I knew I had picked the right partner.
In 1984, I gave up the barber shop, and David gave up his plow. David and I got very hungry that first year. We started our TV show, “Woods and Wetlands” in the late 1980s and were on TV for 25 years. Then when we moved to the Outdoor Channel where our TV show was called “Ultimate Hunting.” Mossy Oak was one of our first sponsors, and we've been friends ever since then. One of my favorites in the Mossy Oak crew is Toxey Haas’ (the creator and founder of Mossy Oak) Dad, Mr. Fox. If you don’t like a man like Mr. Fox, then you probably don’t like your momma.
Several other companies had produced a grunt call before we did, but they didn’t promote it to the degree that we decided to promote our grunt call. I think the first one I ever saw was made by Eli Haydel, founder of Haydel’s Game Calls. To make a grunt call, we knew we had to make a mold, but making an injection mold was terribly expensive. David and I had bought a 100-acre farm together. To have the money to make a mold, we had to sell the farm and take a leap of faith. When we sold the farm, we both cried, because it was more or less our safety net. But we knew that the deer market was growing. We decided to jump in with all four feet, because we knew that the grunt call would work to call deer.
Since David and I both deer hunted a lot, we had heard deer make that grunting sound. We started experimenting with grunt calls, and we learned that a grunt call would get a deer’s attention and call him in to bow range. After selling the farm and buying the mold, we didn’t have any money left over for advertising. But in those days, the outdoor newspaper and magazine writers were the people who carried the message of new innovations in hunting and fishing to the outdoor public. We started inviting outdoor writers to come to Cadiz, Kentucky, where we lived, to go hunting with us. We taught them how to use the EZ Grunter call, and they began to take deer using the call. Then they started writing about the EZ Grunter, and we sold millions of those grunt calls. That one call not only kicked off our business, but every other call manufacturer started making grunt calls. I'm not saying we were the first game call company to make a grunt call, but we were the first company to truly promote that call, teach people how to use it and prove it would work to call in deer. The outdoor writers we took hunting played a tremendous role in promoting the EZ Grunter call. You have to remember that when we came out with the EZ Grunter call, TV was a relatively new form of entertainment. We didn’t have the internet or social media. The main information about the outdoors came from the outdoor press. During the early days of the Knight & Hale EZ Grunter, we took more than 100 outdoor writers hunting with us.
Another person who played a major role in the success of the EZ Grunter was an outdoor writer named Tommy Akin, who knew a lot of outdoor writers. He would introduce us to them. One of the things we learned early was when we brought writers in to hunt with us we never asked them to write about the EZ Grunter. We just showed it to them, taught them how to use it and said, “Go, try it, and let us know what you think.” We let the writers discover for themselves the effectiveness of the EZ Grunter to call in deer. That was 30 years ago.
Last season, I took the Knight & Hale EZ Grunter on a hunt with Hank Parker, the famous outdoorsman, another Mossy Oak pro, who was filming a TV show in Kentucky. This hunt was during the rut, and I was hunting with a gun. I spotted a really big buck in high weeds that seemed to have lost his doe. The buck put his nose up in the air to see if he could smell that doe, and I grunted to him. He came out of the edge of the weeds, went into the woods and started looking for the deer that had grunted. When he looked away, I rattled and grunted again, and that buck turned and came straight to me. I took him, and he scored 186 inches. That was the biggest buck I'd ever grunted up.
I've got to be honest. I've had deer that absolutely don’t pay any attention to the grunt call. But when I’ve grunted to other bucks, they’ve just walked straight to me. I don’t know why the grunt call works sometimes and doesn’t work at other times. Another thing I've noticed is that sometimes I’ll grunt to a buck, and he’ll walk off like he hasn’t heard the call. But in only a few minutes, I’ll hear a deer behind me. I’ll turn around, look and see the buck I called to that has circled downwind.