Is Camo Getting Too Good?

You have to admit, camouflage has improved exponentially since the 1980s. My first outfits were variations of old World War II patterns. They worked, but since my early cloaking days camouflage blends more effectively and with specific environments.

The first time I donned a new and improved pattern, I was bowhunting on the ground, which was a common practice for me during my early bowhunting career. I spotted a herd of whitetails browsing my way, so I hunkered in the grass and sat still, hoping a buck was also in tow. As if it happened yesterday, I can vividly recall a yearling whitetail browsing along. Two steps later I was looking at the deer face-to-face, and it was within inches of nipping my stocking hat from my head before it bounded off.

A couple years ago I trailered my horses to the mountain and took off up a forested slope to scout elk country. As I entered a small clearing, I heard a whistle. I looked around and didn't see anything, so I trotted on—when I heard another whistle and noticed a wave. Under a nearby lodgepole pine I spotted camouflaged turkey hunter notifying me of his hidden presence. I still admire that guy's invisibility and the effectiveness of modern camouflage patterns.

Personally, I can't believe how coyotes overlook me in the winter while wearing Mossy Oak camouflage. They have no clue I'm hidden among the sagebrush, and if my Smith and Wesson didn't stop them short I'm sure a few would practically run me over.

None of this compares to what occurred this spring on a New Jersey Highway. According to the news and state police reports, a hunter wearing extraordinary camouflage was hit while trying to cross Route 70, a highway in southern New Jersey. The event occurred in the early morning hours at dawn.

Not only was he run over once by a car, but the driver, who believed to have hit a deer, jumped from his car and tried unsuccessfully to signal an oncoming truck to stop. The tractor-trailer didn't and hit the hunter a second time. As you might suspect the hunter was killed during the vehicle collisions.

You have to ask yourself, "What was this guy doing on the highway in the first place?" Questionable decisions aside, is camouflage getting too good? When you take an enhanced pattern and possibly add in a ghillie-style covering, it's almost impossible to differentiate a hunter from background foliage.

And that's why it's more important than ever to identify your target during the hunt. Sure this guy made a debatable decision to cross a highway in camo during poor lighting conditions, but a similar accident could also happen in the field. Every year turkey hunters are shot by fellow hunters or friends after being mistaken for a gobbler. There are even incidents of elk and deer hunters being shot at with arrows while slinking around in camouflage after being misidentified as game.

So what's the message here? Camouflage is incredibly effect today. Make sure of your target in the field and keep a watchful eye while driving at dawn and dusk.

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