Camouflage Counts

Although it's become as much a lifestyle Hallmark as a hunting accessory, wearing the right ... or wrong ... camo for the situation can easily make or break your hunt.

A few years ago, I was hiking the hills when I found myself in an area littered with shed snake skins. Rattlesnakes are abundant in my part of Wyoming, and I suspected I was near a den area. Suddenly, an ominous buzzing shattered the still morning air.

A fat, 3-foot rattler was tucked under a sage bush, coiled and ready to strike. I was 7-8 feet away, so there was no danger. What amazed me was how well that serpent blended with rocks, grass and brush. Even through the magnifying lens of my camera, the snake was darn near invisible. What superb camouflage for hunting gophers and mice!

Many predators—aside from man—have excellent natural camouflage. Cougars and African lions are both dull tan to melt into the woodwork. Leopards, cheetahs, jaguars, lynx, and bobcats are spotted to break up their shape and help them hide. Coyotes are gray to dull brown. The list goes on and on.

By comparison, we humans must deliberately strive to blend with the woods. First and foremost, you should wear head- to-toe camo clothes. Such garments must perform two important functions.

For one thing, the camouflage pattern should have an overall color that matches average hunting backgrounds. In the autumn deer woods, for example, a brownish camo like traditional Advantage or Realtree’s fine Xtra pattern is ideal. In snowy conditions, a mostly white pattern is required. Use your common sense and match the clothing to the surroundings.

Another requirement of all camouflage is a broken pattern that hides your human shape. Even white snow camo is most effective when spattered with patches of brown, green or gray. If a camouflage garment appears solid in color 15-20 yards away, it is not suitable for close-range hunting. The pattern must be “spotty” to hide your body outline and disappear against bushes and trees.

A hunter should always seek to enhance his camo duds by using foliage and shadows to best advantage. You will stand out dramatically in open, sunny places, even if you are wearing great camouflage. Always sit or sneak close to cover and stay in the shadows whenever possible. This will let you hide like a rattlesnake under a bush, ready to strike when game comes near.

For most effective hunting, be sure to hide from the prying eyes of game!