If there’s one piece of clothing representing the hunting lifestyle, it’s camouflage.
Camo has become a fashion trend throughout the decades, but its use during the hunt is anything but trendy. Choosing the correct camo is the difference between your target spotting you and a clean kill.
With so many camo patterns on the market today and new designs and colors being released each year, how do you choose which is best? Is new really better?
How Camouflage Works
Camo is often about more than just looking like your surroundings.
When searching for game, such as a deer standing in the woods, what do you look for? The difference in color, the outline silhouette, the general shape you know a deer should be, and of course, the movement.
Everything you look for when looking for a deer, you need to eliminate from yourself.
First, remove all unnatural colors and use colors that aren’t local to your hunt. While some hunts require orange because the species are color blind, the difference in pigment or brightness is noticeable to others, such as deer. Large smooth textures rarely occur in nature, and that’s why most camo is composed of multiple patterns.
Next is your shape. We all know what a human looks like. For example, we all know how a face should look or how our arms connect to our bodies. Part of using camo successfully is removing the known shape or design of the human body. You can accomplish this with camo face paint, where you add lighter colors in regions that would usually be shaded, such as under the nose or chin, and darker colors where it would usually be lit, such as the cheeks and forehead. This removes the shape of your face.
You can also remove your silhouette, which is less about camo and more about cover. This is the purpose of ghillie suits and other rough, dangly materials, but it often increases physical movement. Keep in mind you still need to see and take your shot.
Camouflage's primary purpose is to blend in and recreate nature to help you look less like a human.
Nature is always changing and vastly different from region to region.
The grasslands of Michigan have darker colors--forest greens and dark browns--than the grasslands of Texas (muddy browns and pale grass greens). Even within your given area, the terrain could change and appear different while you drive down the road.
As a hunter searching for the perfect camo, it’s important to understand the local fauna and recon your likely hunting spot.
Place a focus on color, pattern, and how it will fit into your season, and you won’t go wrong in your choice of camo.
Habitats Where Hunters Use Camo
When shopping for camo, you will find a wide range of designs. It’s important to blend in with certain natural elements, which include:
- Trees and woods
- Marsh grass
- Stone and cliff faces
Once you choose the pattern that best suits your needs, it’s important to choose the season in relation to your surroundings. This is often referred to as the temperature of your hunt.
Depending on your local wet seasons, the colors of your terrain could change throughout the season. During the wet or rainy seasons, nature is filled with more greens and dark browns. During the dry seasons, nature begins losing these colors, turning shades of brown and tan.
Terrain could also change with the temperature. Winter begins to reduce the visible grass and low brush, causing a need to change camo or be cautious about your hunting spot.
This frost can also begin killing off tall grasses, causing previously green regions to begin tanning or dying off.
Being cautious about your camo and natural needs will help you choose the correct camo the first time.
When dressing for the hunt, it’s common to wear layers using a mix of pants, boots, an undershirt, jackets, hats, gloves, face shields, and more.
With the growing price of camo apparel, the idea or chances that you own entire outfits for every terrain you may hunt is slim. A head-to-toe outfit for a single camouflage design could run you upwards of $1000, only increasing further when snow pants and water waiters are needed.
Nature is a blend and mix of patterns and buying more universally needed gear could be the key.
When hunting from a blind, your pants are rarely seen. .
So why worry about your pants?
Hunting pants focus on durability and matte colors. Standard jeans and pants have a slime shine and coating, adding to the materials, giving them a clean appearance. This shine is removed from hunting pants.
Buying a pair of hunting pants that covers your fall ground terrain will remain versatile through most of the year. From the woods to the grasslands, a medium-dark, medium green camo will match your surroundings.
As the weather gets cold or wet, you may want to consider purchasing a second pair of camo pants to match the new terrain. Or, for even better coverage, consider purchasing a pair of camo overalls.
Overalls are a great choice for the cold season, adding another layer to your outfit which could be removed if they get wet or you begin to overheat.
Your jacket is arguably the most important piece of camo because your upper body is almost always in sight when hunting. While in a blind, your upper body is in the open. When walking, your jacket sits above the brush in plain sight; when attempting to tuck into grass or brush, your jacket is often all that’s visible.
Many hunters will own a range of jackets to match the given terrain and potential weather. This includes thin jackets for early fall, thicker jackets for late fall, and winter jackets for cold seasons within the northern regions.
There are times when the weather gets a bit too hot, or your outer layers get wet and need to dry. Undershirts allow you to strip layers and remain invisible.
Consider wearing a thin long sleeve undershirt.
When you strip away your jacket, you likely don’t want your arms to show. A long-sleeve undershirt will keep you covered.
Styles of Camo
Camouflage has been recognized and used for more than 100 years, with the idea of breaking up your body's shape even earlier. Classic hunters would wear green and black flannels to help blend in with nature.
Over time, hunters would begin using patched or blotched camo, leading to “tiger stripe” or striped camo to blend it with grasses and trees. In the last 40 years, with the advancements of technology, camouflage has become more detailed.
When hunting deer, bear, boar, turkey, and other ground game, you’ll likely find yourself in and around the woods. While the wildlife changes, the basic design and visual appeal of the woods remain similar.
Wooded camo includes trees and leaves, and in many cases, grasses and brush.
Some wooded camos have darker greens, while others have bright greens. Wearing a bright green wooded camo into a darker region will cause it to stand out.
When shopping for wooded camo, you will find two primary resolutions:
- High resolution
- Blurred effect
High resolution or HD camo attempts a photo-realistic approach at camouflage, adding a lot of detail to every leaf and bark. In terms of trees, you will look as if you’re a part of nature.
Blurred effects focus on providing the correct colors and general shape without too much detail. This allows the camo to become more versatile, being used within a wooded area and the grass and brush within that region.
As the snow begins to fall, your green wooded camo may find itself out of place. Winter camo or snow camo can be found in a wide range to match your region.
One form withholds most of the wooded effects while adding matches or accents of white, a great option for heavily wooded areas and tree stands. Other forms of winter camo use mostly white with a few matches or branches of color, ideal for ground hunting in regions with heavy snowfall.
Since you will only be wearing snow camo in the cold seasons, hunters usually only buy winter camo in heavy jackets and overalls.
Designed for marshes and riversides, waterfowl camo uses a mix of corn stalk leaves, blades of grass, and brush blending with a wide range of grasses and cattails found in and around marshes and wetlands.
Waterfowl camo can be found with certain levels of green, allowing the camo to be used within a range of seasons.
Waterfowl are often hunted in fields, so waterfowl camo blends seamlessly into cut cornfields, a popular stop for flocks.
Most regions in the U.S. have some form of high grass and grass-filled wetlands. Camo used for these regions uses long strands with a range of different colors and shades of green.
Grassland camo commonly utilizes elements of waterfowl camo, with added brush and thin grass clusters. This form of camo is highly versatile and is often used in wooded regions.
Popularized by modern military operations, digital camo has created a simple pattern that can be used universally with reasonable success.
Tan digital camo has been designed and tested for desert and tan grasses, while dark green digital camo use layers of green and black to blend it with dark wooded regions, more focused on shadows.
While these camos are relatively universal, they are rarely superior to a quality hunting camo.
Many forms of big game hunting require the hunter to wear a certain amount of orange for safety. This color is known as Blaze Orange.
Most orange gear sold on the market, such as vests and hats, are solid orange—part of the goal when hunting is to remove these large solid shapes, which can easily be seen.
Orange camouflage allows you to wear the required orange, with the patterns and design that help you become invisible.
While it was once thought deer were colorblind, further research explains that deer can actually see color; they are just less sensitive to orange and red. Since deer can see very well in the dark, their vision or ability to see color is less precise during the daytime.
Laws regarding the required amount of Blaze Orange differ from state to state. You should always check with your local requirements before buying gear.
Camo Your Gear
Now that your jackets and pants are blending in with nature, it’s time to get out and hunt.
Well, not quite.
Look at your gear. Do you see an issue? Your calls, guns, bows, and other equipment may still stand out.
Get rid of the black barrels and mismatch camo with GunSkins protective wraps. These wraps allow you to easily customize your gear to match the needed camo while adding a protective layer, reducing the risk of damage.
The old shotgun you’ve used for years will eventually become worn, scratched, and well used. GunSkins seals and protects old damage to reduce future wear while adding a brand new, high-end look.
GunSkins is about more than just your guns and bows, allowing you to wrap and customize nearly anything in your day-to-day life with camo, flags, and much more.
Get Out There
Camouflage is both a tool and a statement. Hanging your favorite worn camo jacket on the hook by the door is a symbol that you have, and continue to be one with nature, bagging and bringing home the trophies all year long.
Now that you know how why camo is such an effective hunting tool, it’s time to disappear into nature, even if you’re just a few steps inside the brush.