Hunting The West: Camouflage … Keep It Simple

The breeze steadily fanned our faces as the panting bull rounded the last small tree that stood between us. A moment before, I was able to glimpse the broken off main beam on the bull’s right side. I quietly warned the trembling hunter not to shoot as I knew we would find a bull with intact antlers.

Meanwhile, the bull in front of us was slobbering and standing not six paces from us as we huddled motionless at the base of the bushy juniper tree. The bull scanned slowly, looking for the cow I had mimicked only moments before.

Frustrated, the bull bugled as he turned back toward his cows and vaporized into the brush. He never did make us out. Our camouflage had worked perfectly and we had done our part by not even twitching when his burning eyes were on us.

The Predator camo pattern is as versatile as they come and will work anywhere.

Camouflage is an enormous part of the hunting industry. I would hate to try and guess how many millions of hard earned dollars are spent each year on the stuff. Camo comes in every flavor from leaves and branches to digital chaos, printed on everything from underwear to boot soles. So how do you choose what’s right for you before you head West for your next adventure? Here is my view on camouflage.

Select Patterns That Blend With Terrain
I have chosen my camo based on where I apply it. If I am going to be belly crawling across the sun-baked, short grass prairies trying to bow kill an antelope, I am not going to be clad in a camo pattern that is too dark, such as many of the “tree” or “bark” types. I am going to be hiding in an outfit that has at least as much or more light or neutral-colored areas as it does dark areas. Many of the camo brands that are designed for tree stand hunting in the Eastern hardwoods do not perform the way camo is intended out West in the “wide open spaces.” While it may look good back East, on the store rack, and to your buddies, it likely contains way too many dark browns and blacks. These will tend to blob together at a distance and make you stand out of instead of mesh with your surroundings.

Camouflage is intended to disguise and eliminate the human outline when an animal views it. It does so by blending different shades and colors that mimic shadows and vegetation to deceive animal eyes and allow you to meld into nature. If the wind is favorable and we remain absolutely motionless, it is entirely possible to stay undetected at an arms-reach from animals that survive solely on their ability to detect danger with their eyes, ears and nose. It is quite a feeling to successfully fool an animal in his own space, at his own game, on his own ground!

Leafy-type camo creates its own depth and is very deadly, especially on sharp-eyed toms.

Predator, ASAT Camo Work Well
I have learned from experience what characteristics I like in a camo pattern to perform out West, and a couple of brands produce what I am looking for. Both Predator and ASAT (All Season All Terrain) have proven to be extremely versatile and super effective in any habitat I find myself in across the West. Both are unique looking patterns and neither quite fit in to the typical mold of the camo market. They both look different from one another, but both work the same way. You won’t find these garments printed with leaves or branches with detailed bark imposed onto them. They have a perfect blend of browns, neutrals, with a minimal use of black. Both these patterns blend into any background from pale tan grassy flats to shadow-filled dark timber patches, and everywhere in between.

Another camo product that works extremely well are 3-D suits, sometimes called “leaf wear.” When you mix the right blend of colors with three-dimensional trickery, you have a deadly combination. The “cut-out” effect of these suits has the ability to create its own shadows and this realism is unparalleled. They also allow the wearer to dress in blue jeans and a dark T-shirt underneath. The one draw back that they have is they can be a little bit loud when they rub or snag on thorns or vegetation during a stalk. You may also need to trim the “leaves” on the inside of your bow arm to keep them out of the path of your bowstring.

This light-colored pattern worked like a charm while stalking on the Kansas plains.

Hunt Smart
After all this is said, I still believe it is more how you wear your camo than what camo you wear. In other words, don’t move when an animal can catch you. The old-timers got by with everyday work clothes or flannel long before there was a variety of camo to choose from. They knew animals and how to move when in close quarters to them, and there is no substitute for that.

In today’s fad driven consumer world, it seems that there are a half-dozen new camo companies cropping up every year. While all of it will work to some degree, you are better off to keep it simple, choose what works for your terrain, and stick with it.

Discover a fine selection of hunting clothing and camo patterns at Sportsman’s Guide.

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