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In 1974 at the ripe old age of 24 I decided school teaching was not for me and followed my best friend Ed “Rags” Regula into the raw fur business. I moved back to Penn State in State College, PA with my english setter Tina. I bought a used house trailer, 8 feet away I put up a 14′x14′ aluminum shed, obtained necessary licenses and in September of that same year opened Lion Country Fur Post. Behind the fur shed I built 2 pens for my walker coon hounds. Grouse hunting by day, fur buying in the evenings, and coon hunting at night. Life was simple and yet so grand! On the other hand, acceptance and profits were slow to come.

The next summer, Tina had her first litter. The pups spent the summer days in the little pen watching me build an addition to “the shed” for night hunting and trapping supplies. I stocked it with dog food, wheat lights, collars, bells, traps, and lures. That fall, with hide prices at an all time high, my lane would magically fill with pick-up trucks just after dark. Farm boys with a muskrat, coon hunters with a hide, bird dog and beagle men lining up to buy dog food. It was a social of sorts. There were amish, local farmers and townies from the college mingling – swapping stories, telling lies. It was Americana at its best and Lion Country Supply was gaining acceptance.

Soon I was buying deer hides from processors. I rented a storage trailer where we would salt, flesh and stack them 1 by 1. A full load was between 1,200 and 1,400 hides. The dog supply side of the business was certainly easier and cleaner. Soon, I was planning my own dog supply catalog, which would prove to be way harder to achieve than I imagined.

 

 

In 1980 I moved the old fur post (literally on a roll back truck) over the mountain to the crossroads of 2 highways in “downtown” Port Matilda, 12 miles outside of State College PA. I attached the old building behind the rented store front shown above. I filled the store with feeds and dog supplies and added guns, ammo, fishing tackle, and live bait. For the next 12 years, I supplied both locals and traveling sportsmen with the “necessities” of life.

I worked in the evenings on my dream of a mail order catalog and the next year I scraped up enough money to have my first catalog printed. It was a 16 page black and white catalog and showed my first English Setter “Tina” on the cover. I was proud as a peacock but mail order success came slowly, subsidized by the 500 tons of dog food I was now distributing each year. The next breakthrough came when a friend called me about buying a one page website. This new venture into the World Wide Web sounded futuristic at best but I decided to give it a chance. It turned out that being the first gundog supplier on the web was a wise decision.

Lion Country Supply - Hunting Dog SuppliesIn 1996, 22 years after Starting Lion Country Supply, I finally built and moved into my brand new facility. Today we ship international internet orders literally every day and have dealers in 23 countries. It’s been a great 35 years and I promise Lion Country Supply won’t get too big to lose focus on the hunting dogs and dog people who got us where we are today.

John “Buck” Koritko


22 comments to “Humble Beginnings: How I Started Lion Country Supply”

  1. Mike Koritko

    It’s awesome to see the picture of the old store in Port Matilda up there! LCS has come a long way.

    How bout some pictures of the old dogs? And Rosa and the current dogs.

  2. Tom Keer

    Hey Buck,

    I really enjoyed your blog about the origin of Lion Country Supply! Yours is an inspirational story about hard work paying off. I’d love to see additional blogs on the subject. Congratulations on a job well done!

    Best,

    Tom

  3. Beth DeVries

    We buy most of our hunting dog needs through LCS. Your honest prices and quality product are amazing. Thank you for your great company and sticking with your vision.

  4. john corr

    Now just a dad blame minute here Buck. What about that fella that came out and helped you build that original shed? I remember splainin to you about the “ridge”, “plates” and other carpenterial fine points. Dag nab it! jc

  5. Andy Purnell

    Quite a change from where we used to come and get dog feed every week!!

  6. Rod Bates

    Hi Buck,

    I enjoyed learning more about your business. I think I should schedule to make a trip up to see you some time. I appreciate our new friendship and look forward to seeing you soon……….Rod

  7. Roger Hoover

    You have come a long way. Wish you still sold nightcrawlers and live minnows.

  8. Mark Zepp

    John -

    Nothing ever comes easy…. I love your story, am proud of you and prouder to call you a friend.

    Amber, Wyatt and I wish you guys continued success!

    God Speed!

    Big Mark

  9. Ed Rader

    I remember John when he was poor Delmer Smith and I stopped at Lion Country Supply to meet John he had 4 or5 little storage buildings he used in one he had a phone on the floor he had a peace of yellow tape it said receiving on the other side it said shipping done with a felt marking pen now that’s poor we been friends ever since. Ed

  10. Guillermo tucci

    Yup old pictures would be cool! Old days,when grouse were a many,legs. Was young,less worries.less politics,fed yer dog DOG FOOD,cheap guns crappy trucks.(wait, i still have the last two!) remember, these are the “good old days” but it sure is fun to look back sometimes . We can lie now and some people may actually buy it! Ha ha!

  11. Jim chambers

    I remember the story well my friend. Wow !!
    Remember when u and I went to buy Deer hides
    With out Rags probable first time we went on our own?the guy was trying to sell us seconds.I think I caught that one. I’m still waiting for my tip!!

  12. Clique Clique Le Boom

    Those were the days when it seems like bird dogs were in most every hunter’s home and the youngins were cleaning guns instead of texting on phones. Hopefully LCS can help bring back some of the good ole days.

  13. GEORGE NERO

    JOHN,DO YOU REMEMBER BACK IN THE 70′S ABOUT ONCE A MONTH I WOULD STOP ONMY WAY TO STATE COLLAGE AND BUY DOG FOOD.I HAD MY EYE ON A SWEET DOUBLE BARELL 20G.ON ONE STOP YOU TOLD ME THE PRICE WAS GOING UP THAT I BETTER BUY IT NOW.I SAID I DID’T HAVE THAT MUCH MONEY AT THAT TIME.(I HAD JUST STARTED IN BUSSINESS MY SELF)YOU RESPONDED PAY ME WHEN YOU CAN AFFORD IT. SOMETHING I NEVER FORGOT.I AM HONORED TO BE YOUR FRIEND AFTER ALL THESE YEARS!

  14. Todd Anderson

    Lion Country is one of a kind! Thank you for the great service and staff. We appreciate the years of service to Anderson Ranch Gun-dogs and supplies in Texas. Your staff help on the phone with us through the years has been great. We love success stories like yours and wish you the best in the future. Rhonda and I look forward to coming out and meeting in person one of these days. Good Bless and have a great year.
    Thank you,
    Todd and Rhonda Anderson
    Anderson Ranch Gun-dogs

  15. Barry Leezer

    Great blog read from top to bottom. Fun to read comments from folks I haven’t seen for years. Keep up the good work. I’ll be back.

  16. Joshua Duryea(aka JD)

    Buck Your Story of success is amazing and commendable. Your my new Idol, I will picking your brain my dream is to open a Hunting Supply store in West Virginia someday soon. God Bless You!
    JD Duryea

  17. john Buck Koritko

    Thank to all for your nice comments. I’m not much for sittin’ at a computer when daylight comes and dogs, woods or water are calling.I do enjoy sharing stories and current hunting ,fishing and training stuff.I hope more people respond even if its just to say Hi or share your training tips or new product ideas. I’m also planning a calendar for posting your dog trials and events.Coonhound , beagle, retriever, pointer,etc categories. Hired another web guy,welcome Matt!, Busy busy but his old boy is BACK and I’m having fun again taking Lion Country deeper into this social web stuff and a whole lot more. Hey-Typing with one finger isn’t so bad when you get good feedback that will let at LCS better serve you in the better into future….buck.

  18. Busta Bird

    Good tips. Need more tips on ecollar use .

  19. Bruce McCjarin

    I boudht a 16 ga Urartechea a few weeks ago, Brian said i had to get first bird I shot at ,well I did nice Rooster with the IC choke. my little
    Cocker was happy too. Bruce McClarin Henrietta NY

  20. Google

    Thanks in favor of sharing such a nice thinking, article is good, thats why
    i have read it completely

  21. Barry urian

    Awesome story guys!

  22. Lance A Wolfe

    Great story and great success. Can you help me get in contact with an Elhew Pointer breeder. I have a 10 + year old that is a great hunter and a great companion. While I still have her I would like to obtain a puppy of the same or similar breeding and start it under her tutelage. She was bred by Mike McClure. Neither his phone number or Email is still valid. Any help would be appreciated


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