Friday, August 27, 2004
Fading into the shadows, blending with the trees and dissolving under the brush are crucial to a bow hunter's success.
When getting a shot depends on stealth, the scent of your detergent, the sound of closing in and worse, the sight of you, could destroy any hope of bagging that trophy.
"(Camouflage) is a necessity in bow hunting to get as close as you need to get," said Becca Nielsen, co-owner of Rocky Mountain Bowstrings in Meeker.
Dave Hutton, owner of Craig Sports, said camouflage isn't as important when distance isn't at issue -- when hunters are using rifles and high-powered scopes -- but it's a different story for archers.
Rifle or muzzleloader hunters generally are required to wear 500 square inches of blaze orange while in the field, but that doesn't apply to bow hunters, who aren't required to wear any.
That leaves them free to disguise themselves as they desire.
The word camouflage generally means clothing, but today's hunter needs to disguise himself in a way that makes him invisible to all an animal's senses -- sight, smell and hearing -- and there are a variety of products available to do that.
Out of sight
"Hunters wear camouflage to blend with natural surroundings of where they're hunting," Hutton said. "Different patterns and colors are used, depending on what part of the county you are hunting in."
Patterns with titles such as mossy oak, real tree, wetlands or sage are created with specific backgrounds in mind. There is even white camouflage that masks hunters in the snow.
Sportsmen stores in the area in which a person plans to hunt generally carry camouflage tailored toward the scenery in that location, Hutton said.
He recommends finding out where you're going to hunt and wearing camouflage that coordinates with the natural surroundings.
"We really try to match your camo to where you're going," Nielsen said.
Northwest Colorado is so diverse in its scenery that pretty much any pattern will work and blend, Nielsen said.
"It just depends on where you're going to hunt," she said.
But a jacket and pants aren't all that's available in the world of camouflage. Hunters can find hats, gun cases, bows, arrows, backpacks, gloves, boots, bow tape, gun tape and face masks to help hide.
"Be particularly careful with your face, not just your body," Nielsen said.
If an animal sees a hunter's eyes, they recognize danger, she said.
It's also as important to give hunting equipment the same camouflage consideration.
The stench of failure
Big-game animals can easily identify odors. A hunter who carefully disguises his or her body can be "spotted" by his or her scent, making masking odor the second step in "total camouflage."
Sweat, soap and laundry detergent are some of the scents that identify hunters as human but, as with the body, there are ways to cover smells.
Products available to disguise smell include body soap and laundry detergent that kill all scents, scent-free deodorant, boot wafers, specialized carbon-filtration clothing and natural deer and elk scents.
"We carry a full line of scent ... or no scent actually," Hutton said.
Depending on the setting, hunting from an elevated position gives a person an additional advantage in making sure their smell doesn't reach the nose of their prey.
The sound of silence
More than one hunter's chance for success has been ruined by the slamming of a car door, the crackle of branches underfoot, the clinking of bullets or noisy conversations.
The last step in total camouflage is to cover any sounds of a hunter's arrival -- or of a hunter's intention to stay.
The first defense is a commitment to silence, which is the hunter's greatest advantage, but there are other preventative techniques.
Wear soft-shell clothing that is close fitting and choose accessories -- backpacks and coolers -- carefully. Wrap zippers, hard plastic items and other noisemakers such as rifle swing swivels in camo-cloth tape. Check stands for unnatural squeaks and make sure your cellular phone is turned off.
Move slowly, or better yet, don't move at all. Choose a position and prepare to remain motionless until you've bagged your game. Animals spot movement easily. Avoid being silhouetted on a ridge top and dodge direct sunlight. n