TEXAS GUNS by Steve LaMascus

Deceptive Patterns: How Camo Works (or Doesnt)

C amouflage- or- Camo has become the uniform of the hunter in Texas and, I assume, in most of the country

This is true even in those places where the hunter is required to wear a specified amount of Hunter Orange. These days you can’t go out to hunt rabbits without wearing full camouflage. Much of the time this even includes some kind of mask or face net.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with this, but the truth is that it is for the most part unnecessary. 

Almost invariably,
camouflage patterns are too ‘busy.’
Like, you can’t see the forest for
the trees.

Camouflage—that is, civilian camo in its current forms—is made to be sold to hunters, not to disguise the human form at various distances.

Most camouflage is made with various shades of gray, brown, and green. The difference in the density and contrast of these colors is minimal. At any distance, they all run together and become one dark blob. That is fine, as it does generally blend in with the background, as long as the background is dark and shaded. However, it does very little to disguise the human form. Truth is that most of the time the hunter would be just as well concealed if he wore a set of overalls in a solid, medium brown or green color.

Camouflage, to be really effective, must have a large amount of contrast between the colors, and must have large, open patterns. To understand this concept look at two animals that are very well camouflaged, the zebra and the tiger, one predator and one prey. Notice that the patterns are large and open, and the colors are about as opposite as nature could make them. The reason for this is to break up the form of the animal. To make the big animal into smaller, unrecognizable patches of, well, nothing. 

Modern commercial camouflage patterns, most of them anyway, make the mistake of trying to make the hunter look like a tree or bush. This is very hard to do, because no matter what the color, the form is the same. It still looks like upright, two-legged danger. The hunter still has to conceal himself among the bushes and trees, stay in shadow, and not move.

That is the same thing I did when I was a kid and wore Wranglers and a flannel shirt. So what is the advantage? 

With most modern, commercial camouflage patterns the advantage is almost totally mental. It gives the hunter the impression that he is less visible to the animal. Because he is more confident, he hunts longer and better and is more successful. 

Some effective camouflage patterns are on the open market today, but they are not the most popular. They are less popular because they do not look like what we have come to expect camouflage to look like. That is a shame, because hunters continue to buy the bushes and leave the background on the shelves.

Almost invariably, camouflage patterns are too “busy,” meaning they have too much stuff in the pattern. It is like the old saying, “you can’t see the forest for the trees.” If you look at a forest and all you see are wall-to-wall trees, they all run together and you see a big blob of green. That is what happens with camouflage that tries to put too much into the pattern.

Instead they should remove most of the leaves and limbs and bushes and leave just enough to make the pattern with big open spaces with lots of contrast between the colors. That is camouflage—large open patterns of dull colors. These are counter-shaded with large areas of opposite colors—black and white, brown and gray, dirt and snow—not a ton of small leaves and twigs.

I dislike using brand names in instances like this, but I feel that I must. The best patterns on the market today are made by Predator and ASAT. Both of these manufacturers understand the concept of large, open patterns with lots of contrast, and have marketed products with these types of patterns. You can check them out at their websites. 

Sometimes camouflage is necessary, or at least highly desirable. Calling predators in areas with little cover is one place where I wear full camo. Still-hunting deer is another time it is very useful.

Hunting deer from an enclosed box blind, a hunter could wear a pink tutu without serious detriment to his hunting success. However, there is no law that says you can’t wear camo where and when it is not needed. If that is what you want to do, go for it.

However, if you are wearing camo and are engaged something where it is highly desirable, I suggest that you be very careful what kind of camo you buy. Study the terrain where you will be hunting. Then choose camouflage that actually works in that type of terrain. Don’t wear green camo in a sea of dead grass, or snow camo when you are hunting spring turkeys. 

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