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A lot of turkey hunters are sentimental about their vest. Throwing on the old vest during the predawn of opening morning—just the same way you’ve done every season before—is a true spring ritual. So perhaps it shouldn’t be all that surprising that a very special turkey vest created by Mossy Oak (along with a package of custom calls and APEX ammo) auctioned for $31,000 during the National Wild Turkey Federation Convention this past weekend. The proceeds from the auction will be used for turkey conservation projects.
The “Mr. Fox Vest” is named after Fox Haas, the father of Mossy Oak founder Toxey Haas. And though the vest was built carefully and thoughtfully with all the features a turkey hunter would want, its true value comes from what it represents, and that’s Mr. Fox himself.
Mr. Fox, now 92, grew up in Mississippi during a time when there were not many wild turkeys on the landscape. He personally brought turkeys back to the area around West Point, Mississippi, where Mossy Oak is headquartered. He’s killed at least one turkey for 75 seasons, and the last several have been documented by Mossy Oak.
“If I make it to 100, I don’t think I’ll lose my enthusiasm,” Mr. Fox says.
Here’s an excerpt from the Mossy Oak website: “The Fox Vest is more than just a turkey vest, its meaning is much deeper. This vest symbolizes what it truly means to be a gamekeeper. It is a symbol of giving back to the resource more than we take. It is a symbol of hope, that by following the example that Mr. Fox and people like him have set, wild turkeys will thrive for generations to come.”
As turkey populations throughout much of the country continue to struggle, many hunters and conservationists are looking back to the early days of turkey management. We had the determination to reintroduce and restore wild turkeys across their range then; will we have that same determination to keep them here?
I have no doubt that those pressures, along with Mr. Fox’s charming story, are what drove the price up at the auction. Beyond the auctioned vest, Mossy Oak also sold 400 early orders of the Mr. Fox vest at the NWTF Convention. Before the show had even started, more than 100 people lined up and waited overnight to secure one of the vests. The auction also included custom turkey calls made by nine of the most respected call makers in the country, plus a box of custom, hand-loaded turkey shells from APEX Ammunition, which is based in Columbus, Mississippi.
“He has become a symbol of all the good that generation of turkey hunter stands for,” Daniel Haas, Mr. Fox’s grandson, told NWTF. “That generation is the reason we had turkeys in the first place, and they carried it through their years long enough for the NWTF to take over and give us all the turkeys we have now.”
The Mr. Fox vest will officially launch March 11 at the Mossy Oak store in West Point. Remaining vests will go up for sale online on March 13. However there’s a finite number of vests available. There will be a run of numbered vests—from 1 to 1944, the year Mr. Fox killed his first turkey—plus a limited supply of unnumbered vests. So if you have your heart set on owning one of these vests, I’d suggest making the trip down to West Point. If you’re going to own a piece of turkey hunting history, you might as well see where it all started.