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Heart and Soul

From Shot Show Daily, January 2019

To Will Primos, the outdoors is far more than just a business

Like many Americans of a particular age, Will Primos was introduced to hunting early on by his father and uncles. And an older cousin, Jimmy Primos, took Will on his first hunt for black birds after giving him a Crosman pellet gun.

"I wish I still had that gun. I can still see it in my mind," Primos says.

Growing up in Jackson, Mississippi, Primos had ample opportunity to hone his outdoors skills. His Uncles Gus was an expert duck caller, and the time he spent in blinds listening to the magic of that call no doubt influenced the eventual direction of his life.

But like many young men with a passion for the outdoors, he needed to earn a living. After he graduated from college in 1974, Primos went to work in the family restaurant business, running the catering and banquet division for one of the five restaurants. At the same time, Primos, who says he was an "obsesses and possessed" hunter, spent as much time as possible chasing "anything that flew, crawled, walked, or swam."

In the process, he became an avid turkey hunter, and in 1976, he began building turkey calls. He quickly realized his talent when his mouth calls started to sell out at every trade show he attended. In short order, Primos understood that with hard work, he could turn his passion for the outdoors into a career.

Soon Primos founded the company that bears his name, though he continued in the family business for several years to support his fledgling enterprise. Some 30 years later, it's one of the top game-call brands in the industry.

One reason for that success, in addition to the obvious excellence of the products, was Primos' ability to promote his calls through various media. For instance, in the early 1980's, he began to use cassette tapes to record hunts.

"You could hear every call that was made, and the turkeys' response. You could also hear the red birds singing in the morning," Primos says.

The Cassette tapes were a success and helped increase sales. So, in 1987, Primos and his team began to film their hunts. Just like the cassettes, the videos became a big hit. "Videos really allowed us to reach the public in a large way. And that helped grow the company," he says.

The success of the videos led Primos to the creation of a television show that airs on the Outdoor Channel. Primos fondly recalls how the videos—and, later, the show—got their name.

"In the later 1980s, I hired Ronnie Strickland, better know as 'Cuz.' I told him to go out and film every hunt, as I was still in the restaurant business trying to keep my small game-call company afloat. At the end of the season, we had nearly 20 hunts on tape. As we sat down to create a video, I asked Strickland, 'Cuz, what are we going to call this thing?'

"Cuz said, I don't know, but it's the truth.' A light bulb went off in my head, and I said, "That's it! We are going to cal it 'The Truth.'"

Primos Truth About Hunting is, Primos says, "100 percent fun and 100 percent fair chase. We show it like it is—the hits, the misses, the laughs, and the love of the hunt. This ain't Hollywood. It's the truth!"

Several years ago, Primos sold the company to Vista Outdoors. But his love for the outdoors is stronger than ever, and he is now focused on preserving the tradition of hunting, shooting, and outdoor lifestyle.

"Early on, I came to understand the relationship between habitat and the amount of game," Primos says. "I became a protector of the habitat."

Another area of concern for Primos is public-land access. Today, public lands are threatened by privatization and development. These areas are extremely important to American sportsmen and sportswomen.

"There's nothing more important than our public lands," he says. "And nothing more important than honoring the legacies of such conservation visionaries as Also Leopold and Theodore Roosevelt."

Primos is proud of what he has built. Primos Hunting now has more than 120 employees and manufactures, more than than 600 products, including calls, videos, clothing, and hunting accessories.

"We're the only company that crosses categories in a strong way," Primos says. "Some companies are really good at waterfowl but don't do anything in turkey, deer, or elk. But we're strong across the board."

At the end of the day, Primos says, the company's success comes down to the quality, and a belief in what they are doing. "Everyone here is a hunter," he says. "If we don't believe in a product, we can't market it. If it's not our heart and soul, we aren't going to do it. The bottom line is, we are the foundation of the company."

Having built such an enterprise from scratch gives Primos a well-earned sense of satisfaction. But his greatest achievement may be his abiding dedication to the the future of hunting and shooting.

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