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The roaring popularity of camouflage. Can you see the pattern?

Hiding in plain sight

Although today much of our survival struggles consist of “how to survive tax season” or “the best ways to survive ‘till payday”, not so long ago the ability to effectively blend into the environment was essential not only for securing our next meal but for securing our very survival.

Humans don’t have a natural camouflaging ability like the baron caterpillar, the jaguar or arctic fox do. We had to create our own camo, based on what we’d experienced in nature and in the last 100 years or so, it’s become quite the art form.

Artists, such as Norman Rockwell, were engaged by the U.S. Army during WWI to create effective means of camouflage. If in 2002, the U.S. Military had just two kinds of camouflage uniforms, in just over a decade that number has grown to over 10 patterns, designed for different branches, as well, as combat situations. But camouflage is not used by military personnel alone, it’s also worn by hunters trying to disguise themselves from their prey, in which case camo patterns number in the hundreds.

Camouflage patterns designed specifically for hunters became immensely popular in the ‘80s, with manufacturers competing to provide ever more intricate and effective models.

Does wearing camo make you a better hunter?

That really depends on what you’re trying to hide from.


If you’re in a combat situation, the first thing that will give you away is being seen by the enemy, which is why the U.S military uses a special camouflage called “desert night camouflage” for night time operations. This two-color grid pattern, frequently worn by soldiers during night time raids, is designed to conceal the troops from night vision and infrared technology.

But can it really? Debatable, as the rapid development of even better night vision goggles than the ones before is making identifying soldiers wearing night camo easier.

In the case of hunters, however, the order of giveaways is reversed, with smell being the first and sight or movement the last. Humans have been hunting for over 400,000 years  and camouflage has only been a part of it for the past century.

So, does wearing camo make you a better hunter? The short answer is “No”. If you’re relying on camo and ignoring the essentials like what you wash your clothes with, what your position in relation to the wind is or how much noise you’re making, the only thing you’ll catch is a nice day outdoors.

Will a good camo pattern give you an edge while hunting? Definitely, a good pattern can help you blend into your environment and secure your prey. Which brings us to what hunting camouflage should actually do.

Most commercial camo patterns are based on “mimicry”, meaning they try to replicate the pattern of an environment based on a photo. This is super, unless you decide to move, which you pretty much have to when hunting.

Hunters select their camo patterns based on the environments they’ll hunt in, but what’s very important to remember is that you’re not supposed to look like the environment, you’re supposed to blend in. In other words, you’re not fooling anyone if you’re disguised as a tree bark taking a stroll through the forest.

Surprising ways in which camouflage does help

Sitting quietly for long periods of time, waiting for that perfect moment to fire the decisive shot is often the formula for hunting success but this has become increasingly difficult with our stress-ridden generation.

Most hunters don’t realize it, but camouflage, aside from making them look incredibly sleek, helps them feel more confident and much more patient. When wearing camo, you’re more aware of the fact that you’re trying to blend in and, in turn, you become less likely to move or make loud sounds.

So all in all, camouflage will give you a significant advantage when hunting and it may even make you just a bit better at it, but don’t expect it to make you invisible or turn your prey into a blundering pack of delicious venison.


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