Most mornings, when I’m preparing to enter the woods, I probably resemble a guy that’s about to go on a date with that one girl – you know, the good looking one you’re buddy’s wife set you up with. The amount of indecisive clothing decisions is at times, completely embarrassing, to say the least. Camouflage pattern choices, colors of flannel, hats, neck gaiters, gloves, the whole bit. I’m most likely in the “obsessive” category of hunters and camouflage. Because of this, next year I will be committing to one year of bowhunting without the aid of commercial camouflage. I will be doing this in order to break myself of the never ending laundry cycles and spending far too much money on hunting clothing. There is definitely an effectiveness of being dressed properly though – camouflage or not.
In the great outdoors, there are often hues of color that are seemingly impossible to replicate. Scouting can help you figure out the plants growing in the area, the amount of plant life that will not go dormant in the winter, the types of trees, and potential concealment. Once this information is collected, I like to take photo’s of the area. These photo’s can help me in the early season by deciding what type of materials and clothing to use in order to conceal myself and best blend into the environment. It has also proved useful to photograph the environment during hunting season to keep up with the ever changing pigments of fall and winter.
Face paint can be an effective tool in taking the glare off of your skin. This glare is due to the oil our pours create. Some people have success using face paint in creative patterns and designs. I cannot attest to the effectiveness of the unique designs. However, I do not believe that what looks cool on Instagram is whats effective in the woods. I will usually apply enough to cover my skin and not allow the natural oils of my face to reflect sunlight. There are two types I like to use. The homemade version, burnt wine cork, and the store bought Hunter Specialties Creme Makeup. Both of these stay flat/matte and do not have an oily shine. They are also easily removable with soap and warm water. I have harvested animals within 10 yards both with and without the use of face paint. Like most things though, I’ll take the advantages I can get along with me in the woods. If nothing else, having my face concealed keeps my confidence high, which ultimately keeps me in the woods longer.
I am a firm believer that a good hunter is a comfortable hunter. Wearing the right amount of clothing to combat both heat exhaustion and hypothermia is the ultimate goal. When this can be done and also allow the hunter to pursue an animal without shivering, sweating, or adjusting layers, it means more time in the stand, on the stalk, or with his ruck. The more time put in – the better the odds.
There are plenty of clothes out there for wicking and insulating. Personally, I enjoy a polyester, quick-dry, breathable material for hunting in hot temperatures (75ºF+). As the temperature moves down into a more moderate 50 – 70ºF, I move to mostly cotton based clothing. My go-to’s for this are flannel shirts in woodland type colors, camo pants or khaki’s, and a camo baseball cap. When temperatures start dropping below 50ºF, I tend to start wearing more wool and fleece clothing while practicing my thermal layering. This time of year, packing a portable treestand in while stripped down to a tee-shirt and thermal underwear, then getting dressed upon arrival to the hunt site can be necessary to avoid sweating and being miserably cold the rest of the hunt. At all times, being as comfortable as possible is going to help get you closer to game by keeping you patient and in a generally good mood.
A common misconception is that camouflage can hide movement. I don’t know how many times I’ve been busted by a doe slowly moving in, but it is no doubt a lot. You know the game – she steps out of the treeline at 100 yards and slowly feeds to within 30. Then, suddenly, she jerks her head up to spot you as if she knew you were there all along. A single doe blow, and she’s gone; along with anything else though would have come by. This is why the goal is to be as still as possible. As someone with Attention Deficit Disorder, I like to go one step further… Be still when it matters. I move around a lot. Some days, its what keeps me interested. To me there is absolutely nothing wrong with movement, so long as you are aware of your surroundings, utilizing wind, ambient noises, and movements to mask your own. To be able to do this effectively has cost me some very nice animals, but I now know the capability and limitations of my camouflage and outdoor gear. In future writing, I plan to dive into “Movement While Hunting.”
In closing, take the time to figure out what to wear. Do the research and plan accordingly. Check the weather and know what you’re about to get yourself into. Don’t worry about the patterns as much as you may want to and focus on the hues and colors of the ever changing environment. Stay comfortable, and stay in the woods. If you have questions or would like information on the clothing and camo I use, please reach out to me though the contact page. I hope this three part “Get Closer” writing helps you close the gap. As usual, please let me know of any success you have with these tactics – I love to hear from everyone who is having success in the woods and closing the gap on the game they pursue.