Frequent topics that come up for discussion when it comes to whitetail hunting in Missouri include shooting houses, guns, bows, and the deer themselves. One of the things less likely to come up in conversation but still very important to consider is camouflage. Of all the preparations we make to set out into the field, having good quality, effective camouflage should be at the top of the list. Although it may seem easy enough to dress like a piece of foliage, there should be more to your camouflage efforts than the minimalist variety.
Photo: Kings Camo
The number one goal of camo is to hide you from the whitetails you are hunting, but your camo requirements should not end there. The camouflage you wear in the field is not just intended to have a visual affect; it also needs to serve your body well. This means keeping you not only comfortable but not allowing the elements to penetrate and present a problem for your body's ability to withstand a day in the field. At the same time it conceals your presence from deer, camo needs to allow you to be visible to other hunters. With all this in mind, along with the various patterning options available, where do you start?
Above all else you need to be able to regulate your body temperature in such a way that a long day in the woods is not only bearable but also will not make you ill. This means being able to stay warm as well as dry. If your clothing serves you well along these lines, you will be able to tolerate more time in the field, increasing your chances of coming home successful in your hunt. In order to aid in achieving this, layering is a tactic embraced by most hunters. By wearing several thin layers of clothing, your body is able to trap and retain heat between the layers; as an additional benefit of layers, they can trap your scent as well. If you get too warm, you can take clothing off, and if the chill again sets it, you can add it back. When layering, be careful not to go overboard. A good rule of thumb is to have a base layer, a middle layer, and then an outer shell layer. Too many layers could require extra exertion to carry around, restricting movement and making them counterproductive.
Photo: Nighthawk Publications
Once you've determined how you're going to stay warm, it is essential that you make plans to stay dry. Getting and staying wet for long periods of time can be harmful to your health, resulting in hypothermia. To avoid this, water resistant camouflage should be considered. You can either purchase it with water resistant qualities or purchase sprays to apply on your own. Just be careful when washing water resistant clothing as some detergents can make the waterproofing less resistant over time; detergents with color enhancers can also make your camouflage more visble to deer by infusing it with additional colors visible to deer, such as blues and yellows. The downside of water resistant gear is that it can be noisy, however, so check your weather forecast and don what is most appropriate for the day you're facing.
The next thing you want to consider is visibility, or lack thereof. While it is important to be invisible to deer, you still need to be seen by other hunters in order to prevent accidents in the field. When it comes to concealing yourself from deer, you want camouflage to break up the shape of your body and break up lines to make it appear as just another section of foliage. As you select camo that serves that purpose, also look at options that reduce both scent and noise. Although scent and noise are not visual deer deterrents, they are very much a factor in a deer's ability to perceive a threat. Also don't forget to wear orange in accordance with Missouri law, information on which can be found here.
Photo: Mossy Oak
If you need a little inspiration when it comes to finding camouflage, take a look here. You can see many different camouflage patterns at work and test how well your eye can or cannot see them, giving you a fresh insight into how camouflage looks in the field. This comparison will hopefully aid you in the selection process moving forward.
Camouflage plays an important role in your safety, comfort, and success in the woods. Do you have any steps you take to select and maintain your camo? Let us know in the comments.