The science of camouflage: Do I need camo to hunt?
Do you really need camo for hunting? Good question. We’re here to tell you everything you want to know about camo gear so that you can make your own decision.
What does the science say?
Camouflage clothing was developed as a response to artillery weapons becoming capable of firing longer distances. Yeah, the bullets go further, but if they can’t see you, what’s the damage?
Green and grey uniforms were first introduced in the 7 years war (1756–1763), and were famously used by the Rogers’ Rangers as a means of concealment.
John Simco, a commander in the Rogers’ Rangers, talked about the colour green being “scarcely discernible at distance” particularly in the autumn months. He noted that when worn in the spring, the clothing “nearly fades with the leaves”. That’s badass and sneaky.
Camo isn’t some magic bullet that will turn you into The God of Hunting just by slipping it over your big head. Even so, it does have some great benefits that make it a rather useful tool to add to your hunting arsenal.
Do you need camo for hunting?
Camo is used when hunting a range of different animals:
There are some great benefits to using high-quality camo clothing for hunting, but do you really need it?
From masking yourself and blending in with the foliage and twigs to looking and feeling great, here are the main reasons why hunters tend to wear camo:
Camo breaks up your body frame
We used to think that all animals were colourblind, but this has since been proven not to be true. When it comes to using camouflage for hunting, it isn’t about being invisible to the animal, Houdini.
Rather, camo is more about disruptive colouration or breaking up the outlines of your body shape.
What you’re trying to do is blend in with your environment. Wearing clothing that has similar colours and patterns as the bushes, trees and leaves helps to blend you and your movements from the game you're trying to hide from.
A more advanced form of hunting camouflage is mimicry, or attempting to copy things in your environment (like bushes) to conceal yourself from animals. If they see you, they gon’ run, but if they think you’re a tree, you’re pretty safe.
A common type of mimicry camouflage clothing is a ghillie suit made to copy the look of twigs, leaves and foliage.
Reduce Ultra Violet (UV) light glow
A lot of regular clothing is made using UV dyes like fluorescent whitening agents (FWAs), which accentuate the whiteness/brightness of colours.
Ungulates (animals like goats, deer, etc - basically, mammals with hooves) don’t have a UV light filter, so their eyes are more sensitive to UV light. Reducing or eliminating FWAs in hunting clothing helps with concealing you from your prey simply by making you appear less bright.
High-quality camo clothing is made without the use of FWAs, and recently FWA blockers and FWA-free detergents have been introduced to help with this problem.
This is particularly important when hunting at night. Those ungulates - like deer - are much better at seeing in the dark than humans - like you.
Ungulates have bigger pupils compared to humans which means more light reaches the retina. They also have a tapetum which is a part of most vertebrates' eyes which allow them to reflect visible light back through the retina.
Ever tried wearing shorts and jandals to a business meeting? Same, but it doesn’t go down that well. There’s power in looking like a professional. Wearing the best hunting gear on the market doesn’t just have to be for practicality.
Taking pride in the way you look on the hunting field is just as important as it is in other professional sports.
Let’s face it: camo looks great, and plenty of brands are not only focusing on improving the technology of camo hunting clothing, but also their style and comfort.
Choosing The Right Camo Clothing For Hunting
When choosing the type of camouflage clothing to wear, you’ll need to consider both the environment you will be hunting in and its terrain, along with the game you’re targeting.
Woodland camo patterns like disruptive pattern material (DPM) and MARPAT look similar to trees, bushes, leaves, and twigs, which allow you to blend into areas such as forests, farms, and trenches.
Snow camo patterns are great for hunting in the snow as they have green and greys mixed with a ‘snow-like’ white, mimicking snowy forest, farms, and bushy environments.
Midnight camoThe midnight camo pattern, as its name suggests, is great for hunting in dark environments.
Brushstroke camoBrushstroke camo replicates bushy environments and got its name from paintbrush stroke designs. Brushstroke camo is probably one of the most influential designs ever created.
Camo for your terrain
When hunting in environments that have a lot of wood colours like forests, using a woodland pattern such as DPM is optimal.
You can’t go past brushstroke camo clothing if you’re hunting bushy or trench-like terrains.
Farmland, Open Hills
UCP is perfect for open farmland with a lot of hills and light browns/greens.
Dark greens (olive), dark blues and greys
Brown and greens (neutral colours)
Light greens and light browns
Using Camo When Hunting Deer, Pigs, Ducks and Goats
The best way to use camo for hunting deer, pigs, ducks and goats is by using the three proven tactics for camouflage hunting:
Mimic your surroundings by using camo netting and clothing that looks similar to leaves, wood and twigs such as flecktarn trousers.
Use DPM clothing to break up the frame of your body.
Stop your clothes from glowing by choosing high-quality camouflage clothing, and consider using an FWA-free detergent to wash your camo clothes. Stop the glow!
Keen for camo?
Do you like the sound of all that science? Go ahead and check out our full range of camo equipment here.