Identifying the correct camouflage

While flipping through the latest copy of one of the many outdoor publications I receive regularly, I was amazed by the number of advertisements for new camouflage patterns available just in time for the upcoming season. Some resembled snake or lizard skin, while others looked like the tree bark and pine needles had been painted onto the fabric. Each claimed to be “the best” and implied that without this new pattern, you would be wasting time getting out of bed on opening day.

During the next few months, the hunter will flock to their local outfitter, spending thousands of dollars to ensure they have the proper camouflage. Many will purchase entire outfits- boots, pants, shirts, jackets, head covers, and even gloves- whether the set they own is still usable. They will do this simply because their favorite magazine showed their favorite professional hunter wearing a new pattern.

But do they need that new pattern, and will it increase their chance of success?

Contrary to what the manufacturers would have you believe, my years of hunting and patrolling in the woods have taught me that the practical use of camouflage is far more crucial than the specific pattern used. This knowledge empowers you, the hunter, to make informed decisions about your camouflage choices.

Back to Basics

Effective camouflage does not need to make the wearer resemble anything. The best camouflage makes the wearer look like nothing specific. Before the recent trend to make patterns more realistic than some of the plants, trees, and rocks modeled after, most patterns were simply a random display of browns and greens. Even desert patterns followed this basic design by dropping the greens and using a variety of browns and tans. The idea was that this random pattern would allow the wearer to blend into various settings without looking too much like any single setting. After all, disguising yourself as a white pine may not be the best idea for trying to hide in a grove of maple trees.


The primary purpose of any camouflage is to allow the wearer to better blend into the background. Not only does this make the wearer more difficult to see from a distance, but it also hides subtle movements such as those necessary to move a bow or rifle into position while on the stand. Regardless of which pattern you choose, it will only work if you have a background for it to blend into. The biggest problem I see hunters make is placing their blind or standing in an area with little or no background, usually open fields or free-standing trees. More often than not, the reason for selecting this location was increased visibility. However, it provides increased visibility to both the hunter and the hunted.

Common Senses

Regardless of the type of camouflage you choose, whether it’s the latest high-tech pattern or a hand-me-down woodland military surplus, it’s important to remember that it’s not an invisibility cloak. To be a successful hunter, you must be mindful that, like humans, animals possess multiple senses, many of which are highly developed. This reminder encourages you to be attentive to all aspects of your environment, from sight to sound and smell.


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