Nason Heflin and Matt Pearsons
What's the best jacket?
Does it keep you dry when it's raining? If it's raining, yeah.
Warm when it's cold? If it's cold, sure.
In my opinion, the best jacket is one with a great story to tell. Any one of us can point at our favorite (or not so favorite) gear and share familiar stories from life in the field or camp. When gear comes through the site with a name or initials on it I immediately wonder what adventures the jacket of a J.D., Tyler, or Debbie had before finding a new home on Camoretro.com. It's as important to preserve these stories as it is to begin writing the next generation's chapter. At Camoretro, we're preserving heritage by a providing a community and quality gear to those with a longstanding or newfound passion for the outdoors.
When Camoretro customer Nason Heflin sent us a story about a jacket he bought from the site and wore to NWTF I figured it could be a nice compliment to the first blog I had planned. After the first paragraph, I realized Nason's story embodies the Camoretro experience perfectly, and I am honored to help share it with you.
If you have gear with a story to tell, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd love to help you tell it.
My passion for turkey hunting began at the age of six when my stepdad introduced me and began the spread of “the disease” that turkey hunting brings with it. It has continued not only as a passion for hunting, but also an appreciation for outdoor apparel. My cousin and avid turkey hunter Matt Persons also needs to be credited with providing one of the sparks that lit the fire that is my passion of the outdoors in me. Since Matt acquired a certain jacket last turkey season, I’ve been on the hunt for one. A good friend and hunting partner of mine, Will Miller, told me about Camoretro.com and the Instagram account. After keeping an eye out for a few months, the jacket I desperately wanted appeared on Camoretro's Instagram listed at a very reasonable price. The post had been up for the better part of two hours so I rushed to the site and it was still available for purchase. After an anxious few minutes of logging in and purchasing, I got the jacket! At duck camp the following day, Will greeted me with “You ain’t going to believe what happened to me, after a year of searching I finally found the jacket I’ve been looking for and some sorry individual bought it out from under me while I was filling out my information.” Turns out I was that sorry individual! We had never talked about the jacket with one another, but somehow out of 18K plus people, two boys from small-town Starkville, MS that grew up hunting together were both fighting over the same jacket. A few days later, "The Jacket" arrives. It was the tags short of being brand new, the size was right and all was good with the world. Even at that point, that series of remarkable events alone had provided enough coincidence for me to treasure the jacket, but it was only the beginning.
The NWTF Convention & Sport Show is an unreal experience – seeing seemingly fictional characters that you grow up learning from and idolizing. This is where those big names come together and anyone can interact with them. What better place to debut "The Jacket" than "The Biggest Turkey Pep-Rally In Existence”. After a few miles of wandering, my admiration of newly released products at the Mossy Oak booth was interrupted by a hand on my shoulder. I turned around to see the face of one Daniel Haas. After shaking hands, he fired off a series of questions, basically asking me if I knew how rare "The Jacket" was.
Nason Heflin on Mossy Oak's Instagram story during the 2020 NWTF Convention & Sport Show
I knew the rarity at this point but was ignorant of the history of it. I told him that I assumed it was bottomland, but could tell by his interest it was something else. As I stood there, half of me was mesmerized - trying to wrap my mind around the current situation, while the other half attempted to dissect the history lesson I was receiving. The bits and pieces that the sane half of my brain picked up on were “When Mossy Oak began they had two patterns, bottomland (which is now referred to as the original bottomland) and Hill country.” Apparently, when Mossy Oak began gaining popularity and mass producing, the patterns looked so similar that there was no sense in making two of basically the same product and calling it two different items. Therefore, Hill Country was opted out and they stuck with bottomland. As you can guess, the jacket I was wearing was Hill Country. Around the same time, Neill Haas walked up and confirmed the rarity of it. The conversation was wrapped up with “You need to go over there and ask dad (Toxey Haas) about it. He’ll probably be able to tell you more.” I shirked the task of talking to him, due to the fact that it looked like someone had kicked an ant bed of people, and he was positioned dead center of the mound. I headed back to our booth, figuring it would be best to try again at a later time. After hem-hawing back and forth with Matt and my brother, Noah, they helped me better wrap my mind around the hand I was just dealt. We came to a mutual agreement it would be unbelievable if Toxey could sign the inside of this jacket. I gave time for the crowd to die down and went back, equipped with a sharpie, to find there was no sign of Mr. Toxey. Although I did talk to Daniel and Neill again saying, “I assumed y’all had one of everything in your closet, out of curiosities how many of these would you say are in circulation?” The rough estimate came to “less than a hundred.” That statement in itself was amazing, but the fact that these two guys that I’ve always looked up to and admired went out of their way to speak to me is something I'll never forget. With the convention ending, so did any hopes I had of any meaningful signatures meeting "The Jacket”.
Once the Mossy Oak Instagram account posted a story of me wearing "The Jacket", the offers began to come in. It was then I realized I had something special that seemingly everyone wanted. Although tempting, the prior events were more valuable to me than any trade or figure anyone could’ve offered. If the story would’ve ended there it still would’ve been a dang good one, but it doesn’t.
The Monday after NWTF I get a text from my mom saying, “I have an unbelievable story about “The Jacket”, call me.” My mother works at Mississippi State as a technology instructor and I assumed it was just another offer. She went on to say that she had received a phone call from a fella that claimed to be with Mossy oak. She assumed it was about “The Jacket” but in reality, the call was about his daughter taking a class my mother just so happened to be teaching. After the business side of the conversation concluded, mom told this man she had a story for him if he had the time. She told him a story of a boy wearing a vintage Mossy Oak jacket at the NWTF convention that was called out and how two best friends had fought over this jacket out of all of Camoretro's followers. After painting a picture in his mind with this crazy story, the gentleman stated “You have my number now. You give it to your son, tell him it’s Cuz Strickland and that I would like to meet with him.” He went on to say “I’ll be sure that I get Toxey and Mr. Fox to sign your son's jacket.”
It is incredible the circumstances and coincidences that have taken place because of this article of clothing. It can not be put into words how grateful I am that in a day in age where we thrive on new advancements in this or that, how an article of clothing made 30+ years ago can cause such a ruckus and bring people together. Even if this is the last part of this story, I’m blessed beyond measure and don’t take it for granted for a minute. My words will never do the memories or emotions of this story justice, but this story isn’t just about me or a piece of cloth; this story was built through relationships and experiences that I hold the most value in. I can’t thank those people and Camoretro.com enough for keeping that passion and heritage alive.
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If you have gear with a story to tell, email me at email@example.com.
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