In hunting as in life, the little things really do matter.
Carry a spare set of batteries for your flashlight. A compass or Global Positioning System (GPS) to aid a backcountry hunt. An extra pair of socks on the off chance the weather turns bad. Examples abound.
Here’s another: Choosing the right type of camouflage for a given hunting situation. This is no small detail, but one that often gets overlooked.
As you might suspect, Jason Gordon, brand manager with Mossy Oak, has much to say on the topic.
Toxey Haas, an avid hunter, founded Mossy Oak in the spring of 1986. According to Gordon, Haas had one goal (some have called it an obsession) in mind: Getting closer to wildlife without being detected.
“He wanted to melt into the landscape,” said Gordon.
Haas A Camo Pioneer
Haas gathered up some leaves, sticks and dirt from his favorite hunting tree, put the contents into a plastic bag, and approached a fabric company about whether it could make a fabric that looked like the mixture in the bag. Some people laughed at the request. Other people thought he was crazy. Eventually, however, Haas’ dream was realized. Bottomland, Mossy Oak’s first camouflage pattern, was born — and it became an instant success. It still is today.
Over the years, Gordon said, Mossy Oak researchers have developed, and refined, several other camo patterns for most every conceivable hunting situation.
“We use the outdoors as our laboratory,” Gordon said. “Hunters need every edge they can get, and wearing the right camo pattern is an important part of the equation. Nowadays, you just can’t wear a pair of blue jeans and any old, button-down shirt into the field.”
Below are some camouflaging tips, courtesy of Gordon, to consider before you hit the field:
* Choose a camouflage pattern that matches the surroundings you plan on hunting. Stay away from universal patterns. Also, consider mixing patterns. For example, a Mossy Oak Break-Up shirt or jacket and a Mossy Oak Forest Floor pant will help with concealment.
* Do not skimp. Full camo — from head to toe — is the most effective camo. Failure to cover hands and the face is a huge mistake. Movement and reflection from these body parts can ruin more close encounters than all other visual factors combined. When using a head net, make sure to use face paint around your nose, mouth, and other exposed areas. The bottom line: leave nothing exposed.
* Cover anything shiny or potentially noisy with camouflage clothing or tape: watches, buttons, rings, snaps, and zippers — you name it. Remember that the smallest details can undermine your hunt. The bottom line: details matter.
Wear Long Pants
* Purchase pants that are 2 inches or 3 inches longer than you normally wear to cover your socks and boots. You don’t want your white socks giving you away.
* Select hunting boots with dark soles. The bottoms of boots are often very visible when you’re sitting on the ground and can easily spook incoming turkeys or other game.
* Always wear a brimmed hat. A Boonie hat, with its round, continuous rim, is a good choice because it will always have the same profile when you move your head.
* Use shadows and avoid direct sunlight. If possible, face west in the morning and east in the afternoon. When still-hunting in open country, always try to keep the sun at your back.
* Plan your setups carefully for prevailing winds and available cover. Inside 40 yards you want to blend with your surroundings. If you are set beyond that distance, concentrate on breaking up your outline.
* Set up on the edges of heavy brush, not in it. Game usually travels along these edges, and thick cover will restrict your ability to see and make a clear shot.
Don’t Silhouette Yourself
* Avoid silhouetting yourself by sneaking through low country and side hills. When waiting in ambush, avoid the animal’s eye level: get low while on the ground, or hang your treestand higher than 15 feet if possible.
Remember that your camouflage should imitate the environment in which you’re hunting. Period. End of story. Don’t forget that fact, because it is one of the most critical aspects of the hunt. If you’re visible to a flock of mallards or a boss tom, it won’t matter how seductive your calls are.
In the end, the little things really do matter.
Discover a fine selection of hunting clothing, including camouflage clothing at Sportsman’s Guide.
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Editor’s Note: Babe has shared his love of the outdoors with TV viewers for more than 25 years. Babe will share his tips and outdoor adventures weekly on sportsmansguide.com. In 1984, Babe’s “Good Fishing” program debuted and later his “Outdoor Secrets” show became popular with hunting enthusiasts. Babe’s programs appear on the Outdoor Life Network, WGN, Fox Sports Net, Fox College Sports, The Men’s Channel, Sportsman’s Channel, Great American Country, WILD TV, and Comcast. Babe also writes hunting, fishing and conservation columns that are carried by up to 350 newspapers each week. Winkelman sponsors include Chevrolet, Miller High Life, Johnsonville Brats, Crestliner Boats, St. Croix Rods, Browning, Hunter’s Specialties, Nikon, Minn Kota, Optima Batteries, Mathews, Honda, and many more.