Bill Sugg Never Will Forget Taking His First Turkey or the Men Who Taught Him How
Editor’s Note: Bill Sugg is the President of Mossy Oak and has been there since its beginning.
All the top people in Mossy Oak are turkey hunters. Toxey even suggested we might put a box for a check mark by the question, “Do you turkey hunt?” on our application for employment. My passion for turkey hunting is much like what happens when you throw a rock into a puddle of water. Those few ripples after the rock hits the water represent my family and Mossy Oak friends. They know how much I like to turkey hunt. As the ripple goes farther away from the splash of the rock, probably fewer people know about my passion for turkey hunting.
I first started hunting turkeys with my dad. At that time, we didn’t have any land to hunt turkeys on, but my dad had a friend with some timberland in Mississippi and Alabama. He was kind enough to let my dad and me hunt on his land. I wouldn’t say that my dad was overly successful at turkey hunting, but he really loved the sport, and he made his own mouth diaphragm calls. I guess my dad gave me the turkey hunting addiction. But I didn’t kill my first turkey until 1981 when Mississippi had its first turkey season. In 1979, I met a man named Fox Haas, the daddy of Toxey Haas, the founder of Mossy Oak. Mr. Fox taught me how to really hunt turkeys. So, when turkey season finally opened in Mississippi, I took my first turkey.
I never will forget that first turkey hunt. A friend’s dad let me hunt on his land, just west of West Point, Mississippi, where I live and Mossy Oak is based, called Chuquatonchee Bottom. One morning I started hunting around a soybean field that had some cane around it, with thick cover behind it. A little creek divided the cane and the thick-cover hardwoods. I heard a turkey gobble on the far side of that soybean field. I was so excited and couldn’t believe I had heard a wild turkey! When I was hunting with my dad, I thought a wild turkey probably was a mythical creature - much like a unicorn. I crawled into the cane and started yelping with my daddy’s old Lynch turkey caller. The turkey answered me a few times, flew down into the field and then shut up. When I didn’t hear that turkey gobble for awhile, I thought to myself, “That turkey must not have heard me. I'm going to try to get a little closer to him.” So, I got on the edge of the creek and started moving toward where I thought the turkey was. In just a few minutes, I heard the turkey gobble from the spot that I’d just left. I got into the creek so as not to make any noise and sneaked back to the place where I’d first called. Thick cane was between me and the turkey. I crawled up into the cane, spotted the turkey and squeaked out a little yelp. The turkey was so close to me that his gobble nearly blew my hat off. With my hands shaking, I took up my model 1100 12 gauge shotgun. When the turkey was within 10 steps, I squeezed the trigger. My shotgun reported, and the ole gobbler went down. When I put my hands on that turkey, I couldn’t believe that I finally had taken a longbeard.
Right there beside that dead turkey, I took my hat off and thanked my dad, who had passed away, for teaching me how to turkey hunt. I can remember that hunt as though it happened yesterday. I really had a heart of gratitude for all the turkey-hunting tactics my dad and Mr. Fox had taught me.