As part of the process of writing my upcoming book, I had the pleasure of interviewing Toxey Haas, the founder of Mossy Oak. From minute one of a conversation with Toxey, it is clear that he is deep, super deep, and very connected to our “source” in life–meaning God, earth, and everything metaphysical.
Toxey is deep into the meaning and the fabric of what the Mossy Oak brand is all about. He generally avoids putting absolute labels on things and tends to see things at a very high level–a very pure level.
“Mossy Oak in its essence truly is a lifestyle,” he told me. “And we as a family here believe it’s much more than just a ‘brand.’ I think sometimes things lose their most meaningful identity by getting too hung up on the words we use. I don’t like to put labels on things. It is so limiting. I believe that it is the people whom we affect, the lives we touch and deeply bond with, that can best describe Mossy Oak.
“Labels are just labels and that’s fine and totally common in the world we live in, but what we stand for and offer is just much more, much bigger. We just believe that people can only live their best life in and around the outdoors–hunting and fishing and caring for all of it. Above all I can thank my dad, ‘Mr Fox,’ as he is known, for setting the standard for myself and all of us here. He may be my dad but he is truly the most special spirit myself and countless other have known.”
I have not come across many people who remind me of Toxey. He lives a lifestyle extremely connected to nature and surrounded by a very close family in a manner most only dream about. His truest passion is land and everything that can be done to make it better.
“Where I am most at home is on the land,” he said. “On a tractor or bulldozer, planting trees, planting crops, restoring habitat, building lakes or ponds, just everything and anything to make it better.
“I love to look at a piece of property and visualize what it can be. What does it want to become, and what are all the possibilities? Every piece of dirt is unique and special. When I look at a piece of land I look at things like what’s the soil situation, what native plants and trees are most suited for it, what can that ground grow, what can it be?
“Every piece of land is a miracle no matter how big or small. It doesn’t matter if it’s four acres or 4,000 acres, it’s the personal connection and taking responsibility for that piece of dirt that matters.
“Look at it this way, you get the very best possible place to hunt and fish but even more importantly the best and fullest life in the deal. I think a lot of people miss that. All of our conservation brands like Biologic, Nativ Habitats, Mossy Oak Properties, Mossy Oak Land Enhancement, and especially GameKeepers encompass the entirety of enabling people to make the most out of both their our special dirt and even more the time they have in life. We always say that the open season on being a GameKeeper lasts 12 months a year!”
In order to fully appreciate Toxey you need to open up your mind and you need to rid yourself of prejudices and preconceived thoughts. This is easier said than done, as most of us are far too caught up in our own egos to open up in that way. Whether or not you relate to everything Toxey talks about, you will never walk away and call this guy anything other than connected. He is in flow and possesses an energy connection to nature and God that’s beyond normal. His beliefs are founded within love and not fear.
“I’ve just learned to avoid the fear thing, it will never serve me well nor will it serve Mossy Oak or our team and family,” Toxey also said to me. “Yeah, it’s true I may be tasked with the vision side of what we undertake, but it has been my team, my dedicated awesome team, that has truly made Mossy Oak what it is. My ‘vision’ is just the sum total of everyone I work and live with side-by-side each day.
“When we started this thing I told everyone my primary mission was to keep the team together. All the key people who founded this are still here except for Bob Dixon–a MOST special soul who we lost to cancer about ten years ago. And we still celebrate his life with all we do here, especially in the springtime. He would be especially proud of the corporate culture we have evolved to now, and it has evolved light years in just the past couple. We are a VERY close bunch!”
When I asked him whether he ever saw this business becoming the massive company and influential brand it has become, he didn’t give me some canned answer.
“You know, I just never think about it,” he replied. “Our philosophy is about the more you have and the bigger you get, then the MORE you need to give and the MORE you need to work at being a humble, serving spirit. In the back of my head I always knew that if it starts and ends with authenticity and deep connection to the core, it could become something powerful. Please just know that’s its all of us and not just me.”
That’s the understatement of the year, Toxey, it has become massively powerful and has made its way into so many crossover markets it’s crazy!
“David, I never wanted to be an icon and I don’t look at myself that way,” he told me. “It actually makes me uncomfortable to even talk like that. It has always been about Mossy Oak at its deepest meaning and how it affects people. Since the beginning, this has been about an outdoor lifestyle and that means what it means to the people who attach to the brand. We just honestly want to help shine the light on helping people live their best life outdoors.”
One thing is for certain about Toxey Haas and the impression he left with me after the interview: I want to know this guy better. He and I share many beliefs at a deeper spiritual level. Whenever I find people who appreciate nature in a bigger than words, bigger than sensory way, it is refreshing. I have little doubt that Toxey will continue to build huge things and improve a whole heck of a lot land along the way. I hope to spend some time in nature with him and if not, I am still amazed by this man and his accomplishments, depth of belief, and love for earth. I hate to put a label on this but I now know that Mossy Oak means it when they say “it’s not a passion, it’s an obsession.”
Images courtesy Mossy Oak