I also guide my family on turkey hunts. My son, Gregory, and I were hunting out in Texas. I yelped a few times on my big, long box call. The turkeys answered, and I told Gregory, “Let’s mount our horses.” We didn’t really have any horses, but I meant we had to run to the spot to set up to call the turkeys. When we reached the place I wanted to be, I sat Gregory out in front of me, started calling and had the turkeys answering me. In just a little while, I could see several gobblers coming straight for us. Gregory got ready to shoot, but I only could see through one little clearing. I knew that Gregory knew when to shoot. Once the birds came in, and I heard the report of Gregory’s shotgun, I saw a gobbler run through the only opening I could see. I jumped up and said, “You better shoot him again. You better shoot him again.” Gregory turned to me and asked, “Daddy, do you want me to kill another gobbler? I've already killed two.” Gregory had killed two gobblers with one shot. I couldn’t see those turkeys, and he couldn’t believe I wanted him to shoot a third one. In Texas, you legally can harvest up to four turkey gobblers in one day.
Mossy Oak always has been a family company, and family plays an important role in our business. When an employee comes to Mossy Oak, he then has two families - his/her personal family and his Mossy Oak family.
I met Toxey Haas in the spring of 1986. Toxey had a lady here in Mississippi making some sample camouflage clothes out of his first two patterns - Bottomland and Hill Country. In the process of trying to find a manufacturer to make more Mossy Oak clothing, he also had made a few pictures of his camouflage that he put in mainly state and regional magazine ads. At that time, Toxey was employed fulltime at another company, making camouflage clothing as his part-time job and also making turkey hunting videos. One morning his videographer didn’t show up, and he asked me if I would film for him. So, I did.
The next August, Toxey, and asked to meet with me and told me all the things he was doing to get this company called Mossy Oak started. At that time, I had an independent insurance company and was selling insurance. Toxey asked me if I’d help him get his company going on a part-time basis. He wanted me to carry his new Mossy Oak pattern to retail dealers and see if I could sell them some Mossy Oak camouflage. September is probably the very worst time to try to sell camouflage, because most dealers had made their orders back in January at the SHOT Show. But I learned quickly that when I went to a sporting-goods dealer’s store, if I would tack up a little swatch of Mossy Oak camouflage on a tree outside the store before I went in to talk to the owner, get the dealer to come out of the store and look at that camouflage against the tree, then most of the time, I could sell him some Mossy Oak camouflage. I’d go into the store, introduce myself and say, “We've got a little camouflage company called Mossy Oak, and we’d like to get your opinion on our new pattern, Bottomland. We know you’ve been in this business for a long time and would appreciate your telling us what you think about Bottomland.” If I could get that dealer to walk out of his store and look at the Bottomland pattern up against the tree, I would get an order for Bottomland camouflage for Mossy Oak.
Five years later I went to Mobile, Alabama, stayed with Toxey’s cousin and went out to eat. He said, “Let’s ask Shirley Haas, Toxey’s sister, to go to dinner with us.” And she did. I knew Shirley, but I was older than she was. I knew her family, and her family knew me. So, I didn’t become Toxey’s brother-in-law and Shirley’s husband until I’d been working for Toxey for about 5 years and then had dinner with his sister. Next Ronnie “Cuz” Strickland and Bob Dixon came to work for Mossy Oak, and we've been blessed to bring our children into the family. “Cuz” brought in his wife Pam who works in our licensing department and his son-in-law, Kevin Tate, who is vice president of television and video reproduction. The Strickland family has really been a blessing to Haas Outdoor and Mossy Oak for many, many years. They're a part of our family.
As Toxey’s sons grew up, they worked for Mossy Oak during the summers and then graduated from Mississippi State. When Daniel Haas graduated, he began directing our social media. Neal, Toxey’s other son, is one of our field TV producers. My son Gregory graduated from Mississippi State too and first went to work for a company in Memphis in property management. However, he let it be known to me that one day he'd like to work for Mossy Oak. So, Dennis Presley, the vice president of Moose Media, interviewed Gregory, and he's been with our business for the past 4 years, managing all the producers for our television shows on the Pursuit Channel and selling some of the advertising for the Pursuit Channel. We also have many other longtime employees who have brought other members of their family to become part of our family here at Mossy Oak. We feel blessed that these family members have become part of our company’s culture. We also consider the consumers who buy and wear Mossy Oak Camo and the other products that are part of Mossy Oak as part of our family.
Chris Hawley, CEO of Mossy Oak Properties, has his wife and two sons involved in Mossy Oak. One of this sons finished law school and is now one of the assistant legal counsels for Mossy Oak. So, when we use the term Mossy Oak family, many of the people who now work for Mossy Oak are some of the original employees that Toxey first hired and then the family members of those first hires.
Chris Paradise, our senior VP of licensing, has a son, Michael, who’s really fired up about baseball and football. Years ago when Chris and Michael were riding in a car together, Michael told his dad, “I'm going to go to college. After I graduate from college, what am I going to do at Mossy Oak?” Michael was only about 6 or 7 years old then, but he already had his career path figured out. He never considered the idea that he wouldn’t be working for Mossy Oak.