|Although there are many hard lines in nature, the most important crisp edge to the hunter is that which outlines his silhouette. Most scenes in any wildland are composed of hard edges couched within the optically fuzzy and obscure partial concealment of leaves and shadows. When viewed from a distance, these borders are very much the same as those of the hunter with one exception. In almost every instance, the area within which the hunter travels is composed of rigid shapes that dont move.
The breeze will push and contort the leafed brush as it passes through the understory of the woods or the short covering over open ground, but the natural structures with defined edges are static. A hunter making his way through these environs will be the only moving vertical line.
Any hunter who has approached a prey species, especially deer, can remember the strange "head-popping" as a suspicious animal returns to eating or feigns that intent and suddenly "pops" their head erect to stare in the hunters direction. This action is an attempt to catch the movement of an unschooled predator, or compare with reference-memory any visual change in an area of suspicion. The impatient hunter in most cases is hailed with a snort and the unsettling view of a Texas bullseye as the prey launches off in a rapid "advance to the rear." Quite often the hunter will look around in disgust at the surrounding leaves twirling in a breeze and blame the failed stalk on the wind. Yet in most cases when you have a clear view of the game, they spook because it was easy to pick out the defined edges of the hunters image, whether you were changing position or not even if every piece of brush in the area was thrashing about in a windstorm.
Camouflage companies have spent millions of dollars on research in attempting to discover ways to obscure the hunters image. Blends of colors, shadowing and patterns have done a fairly good job of matching the overall image of the predator to his surroundings. Yet that "invisible" specter, when moved at any speed past a solid background, be it rock, tree trunk, sky or hillside, will instantly outline the unbroken and continuous edge of the hunter and give away his presence, thus negating the effectiveness of both his camouflage and hunting skills. Even the hunter sitting solidly in place, perfectly color and pattern matched with his surroundings, still provides an outline available to the sharp eyes of his prey.
In recent years there have been several companies which have attempted to overcome this problem and have melded together patterns and "shape-shifting" manufacture to effect a better mousetrap. I have field-tested these knockoffs of the old military Ghillie suit offerings and have come up with three excellent styles. They have been designed for traditional hunters with the intent of providing them with the ultimate in stealth and comfort.
Hunting during this years extended spring turkey season, I had ample opportunity to observe the "non-effect" these suits had on a variety of game, from turkeys to elk. In many cases I had both birds and hoofed game come to within only a very few yards of me. Sitting in complete open, I was not detected in any manner even though I continued to slowly turn my head and look about, both to check for additional game and as a test of the camouflages effectiveness. I displayed no silhouette and although the breeze often made the edges of the suits twist and whirl, to the game I was just another natural feature of their environment. Even the turning of my head and slow adjustment in the position I held my gun became just so much more "leaf movement" while I was dressed in the silhouette-negating suits.
Jerry Gentellalli, longtime manufacturer of archerys CAT QUIVER, jumped into the camouflage market and his Rancho Safari Company offers the Shaggie 3-D Cover System (shown above). I put his Shaggie Long Coat, Archery Short Coat, Booney hat and facemask through the wringer. All were sent to me in his 4-Season pattern of 50% jute burlap and 50% cotton blend camouflage strips durably sewn onto industrial mesh fabric. The long suit was equipped with YKK zippers, elastic tighteners at the waist and other appropriate locations and openings, and breakaway Velcro panels for access to your fanny pack or pockets, and ease of walking. The long coat is designed with enough girth to allow the hunter to carry his backpack or fanny pack under the coat and be able to move without restriction. Both coats roll up within themselves and with the hat and facemask inside, they provide a very compact and easily carried package when using the attached shoulder strap. Although Gentellalli sent along the short coat for my grandson to hunt in, its modest length, attached hood and abbreviated arms made it absolutely perfect for the small hunter. I used it on several occasions as my primary coat and was quite happy with its performance for "sit-down turkey hunting." I carried the long coat into where I would hunt and easily put it on when I made my stand. The Shaggies, although appearing very bulky, are lightweight and provide a surprising amount of air flow, which allows for still-hunting also. I found that the more I wore the Shaggie coats, the more the burlap frayed and provided increased image distortion. Rancho Safaris Shaggie 3-D Cover Systems only got better with use.
For archery hunting, I followed Gentellallis recommendation and used scissors to trim away any strips that interfered with the bowstring. The modification was simple and quick. Rancho Safari has several color and material variations to match any season or terrain. You can contact Rancho Safari at 800-240-2094 or on the web at www.ranchosafari.com.
BushRag Ghillie-Flage (shown above) is another product that performed excellently. I tested their suit and Predator Face Veil (amusingly similar in appearance to ZZ Tops 3-button beards) provided in their Woodland color scheme. BushRag suits are made by hand-tying long bundles of jute burlap strands onto an open mesh-net suit. This provides for an instant fuzzed-up look. The suit comes with an attached hood and elastic bungees in the right places to keep the suit fitting as you would like it to fit. Bushrags Sean Casey sends along an additional two pounds of the jute yarn in seven colors with each suit, providing hunters the option of perfectly matching their suit to the hues of their particular hunting area. On one occasion I was using Little BigHorns Epeards-Lounge system to sit in the absolutely open space of a dark timber patch where four huge old tom turkeys passed through daily as they moved from their roost.
Although the color of the Ghillie-Flage matched only the extremely sparse understory plants struggling to survive in the minimal light conditions, the "shape-shifting quality" of the suit proved excellent. As I waited for the birds, five of the extremely paranoid blacktail deer of this highly hunted area moved toward my position. Feeding upon mushrooms and few grasses, they wandered to within four yards of my open form and milled entirely around me for several minutes. After they exhausted their food source, they calmly wandered off absolutely unaware that potential death waited at their feet! BushRag makes suits in models suitable for all types of hunting and stealth activities. You can contact BushRag at (323) 851-4100 or on-line at www.bushrag.com
Robinson Labs has changed a few things in the Scent Blocker clothing line and sent out their 3D RealLeaf suit (shown above) with removable carbon liner. Although Scent Blocker previously had made a "cut-leaf" type product much like other manufacturers, the leaves liked to lay down more than stand up to accomplish their distortion job. This situation was peculiar to the material and Robinson Labs was not happy with the effect. They jumped on this dog with both feet and came up with a winner. Their new 3D RealLeaf suit has leaf cuts that stay up with the tenacity of an 8-year-old at bedtime. The pre-curled leaf strips are sewn to a lightweight bug-proof fabric. The slightest breeze gives the leaves a natural movement and they stay up for a good silhouette-shifting appearance. Their jacket and pants come with a button-out, scent-shielding liner with the new "Plus" carbon fiber technology. Unlike the original "powdered" carbon, the activated carbon fiber provides better human scent control with greater durability. The suit comes with a carbon fiber facemask that controls human breath scent as well as hiding the hunters features. Scent Blockers 3D RealLeaf suit comes with "leaf-free" areas on both sides of the chest and arms where a bowstring could make contact. As well, they have a zip-off arm guard that fits onto either arm and cinches snuggly down once your arm is in the coat. The 3D RealLeaf is a well thought out product of very good manufacture. You can contact Robinson Labs for their Scent Blocker products at www.robinsonlabs.com.
THINK A GOOD THOUGHT! Frank Medicine Wolf Springer
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