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Buckaroo Hatters New Digs


Article & photos by Tom Brannon

Master Hatter Mike Moore of Buckaroo Hatters in Covington, Tennessee has moved to a new location at 201 South Main Street, which is a corner location at Pleasant and Main on the Covington Square across from the Court House. This is his third move for Buckaroo Hatters since he opened the business.

Like many craftsmen, Mike began custom making cowboy hats from his home. There was so much demand for his work that in 2009 he moved into a small shop just off the Covington Square at 115 W. Pleasant. Although only open a few days each week, he quickly outgrew that shop and moved up the street to 115 E. Pleasant. His new location has a much bigger showroom and, of course, it is decorated in an old west theme with displayed hats everywhere; it resembles a museum as much as a retail store. There are taxidermy wild animals posed in natural looking settings that would rival the displays at the Pink Palace; fascinating antiques; and Old Western movie photos and artwork everywhere. Mike said that the corner location brings in curious visitors who may not understand at first what this unique store is selling. Many, however, have returned at a later date to purchase a custom hat. As the new store is only a block from the old one, most of the move, which took three months during the winter, was done by hand, toting hats, displays, artifacts, and tools. Mike said it reminded him of the line in a Glen Campbell song: “I know every crack in these dirty sidewalks.”

The decorating theme of this store is a good reflection of who Mike Moore is. A self-described history buff, he is a stickler for authenticity. He has participated in a lot of Old West and Civil War re-enactments and was a consultant in the making of the 1993 movie Gettysburg, as well as a supplier of hats for several movies and TV shows. He is very open to sharing his knowledge of history and hat making. Mike has trained 15 apprentices, who have since moved on to their own haberdasheries throughout the U.S., including Louisiana, Oklahoma, Colorado, South Carolina, and Georgia.

It takes quite a number of tools, including boilers, steamers, and industrial sewing machines, to turn a blank hat into a custom hat that fits so well that it stays in place in wind and weather, at a full gallop, or a sliding stop. These tools, although more common 100 years ago when every man wore a fedora, a bowler, or top hat, are now mostly out of production and hard to find. They take quite a bit of investment as well as knowledge about how to maintain and repair them. It is fascinating to watch the process!  

The common factory-made cowboy hats are made of wool felt. But they don’t stand up to weather very well, and will lose their shape, droop, and stink if they get wet. Like anything else made of wool, they have to be protected from moths.

Every custom hatter in the U.S. gets their blanks from Winchester Hat Company in Winchester, Tennessee, which is a subsidiary of Stratton Hats in Chicago that makes hats for law enforcement and the military.  Buckaroo Hatters sells three grades of custom hats: 100X made from North American beaver fur; 50X, which is a 50/50 blend of beaver and Wild Hare (rabbit) from Belgium; and 10X, which is all Wild Hare. Mike said that North American rabbit fur does not have the length and texture to make good hat fur. He doesn’t emphasize the X factor designations, however, because there is no longer a strict grading system in the industry; but he is happy to show you the difference. These hats actually fit better after they have been worn a while and are exposed to weather. Prices range from $290 to $600 depending on the grade and custom work. They last for many years and can be reshaped.  Mike said that you just can’t wear them out.

A very popular design these days is the “cattleman’s crease” with a squared off front like George Strait wears. Also popular is the open crown or telescoping hat.

About 40% of Mike’s customers are women, who look for a hat that looks good on them and compliments their face shape. This includes some hats that were originally designed for men. The telescoping crown, which is round with a flat brim, looks good on women. Some call this design a “Plantation Hat.”

Throughout the years several couples have gotten married in matching Buckaroo Hatters custom hats of various designs.
Visit Buckaroo Hatters at 201 South Main Street on the Square in Covington Tennessee. Call 901-907-7436, or visit his website

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