When preparing for a hunting trip, one of the most important considerations is choosing clothing and gear that will help you blend into the environment and avoid detection by game. The best camouflage allows a hunter to remain unseen while waiting patiently for the opportune moment to take a shot. Therefore, selecting the right color clothing and accessories can make a critical difference in hunting success.
The safest color to wear while hunting is a camouflage pattern in natural tones like brown, green, tan, and black that matches the environment you are hunting in. Solid unnatural colors like red, blue, or white will make you stand out. Camouflage helps break up your outline and disguise movement.
How Camouflage Works
Camouflage works by utilizing color, pattern, and texture to help conceal and obscure the human form. When done effectively, camo causes the hunter to blend into the background environment. Camouflage works in several ways:
- It breaks up the outline of the human body through disruptive patterns and textures.
- It mimics the natural tones, shadows and shapes found in a specific habitat.
- It disguises depth and dimension to fool the eye.
- It helps conceal movement by not drawing focus.
By utilizing camouflage optimized for a particular terrain, hunters can avoid detection and increase their odds of getting close to animals without alarming them.
Choosing the Right Camo Pattern
There are many different camouflage patterns available in hunting clothing and gear. The most effective patterns for concealment are ones designed specifically for the type of environment you are hunting in. Here are some of the most popular camo patterns and the terrain they are best suited for:
Woodland camo features shades of greens, browns, blacks, grays, and tans designed to blend into forested landscapes. It works well when hunting whitetail deer in the woods. Popular woodland patterns include RealTree and Mossy Oak.
Desert camo uses tan, brown, yellow, and sage hues to disguise hunters in open arid environments. It is effective when hunting animals like antelope, coyotes, and elk in the desert or open plains.
Winter camo incorporates white, gray, brown, and black to conceal hunters in snowy landscapes. It is essential gear for big game hunts during winter months in northern climates.
Wetlands camo features murky greens, browns, tan, and black to blend into marshes and swamps. Use when hunting waterfowl in wetland areas.
There are also general camo patterns like Realtree’s All-Purpose and Mossy Oak’s Break-Up Country that feature a blend of natural tones meant to work in a variety of habitats. While versatile, they may not be as effective as terrain-specific camo in certain environments.
Choosing the Right Camouflage Colors
In addition to pattern, utilizing the right colors is key to staying concealed while hunting. Here are some guidelines on camo color selection:
- Use natural muted tones – avoid bright colors like red, blue, purple
- Match the ground cover and vegetation colors
- Use brown & green for the woods; tan & brown for open terrain
- Incorporate black and gray for shadows and depth
- Add some white when hunting in snow
- Avoid solid blocks of color
Also, be aware that some colors can make noise and spook animals. For example, swishing brush against blue clothing can produce an alarming noise compared to natural tan or green tones.
Sample Camouflage Colors by Terrain
|Woodlands||Greens, browns, grays, blacks|
|Grasslands||Tans, browns, greens|
|Desert||Tans, browns, grays|
|Marshlands||Greens, browns, blacks|
|Winter||Whites, grays, browns|
Non-Camo Warning Colors to Avoid
Certain colors should always be avoided when hunting because they can draw attention and alarm game. Colors to stay away from include:
- Red – Red stands out in the outdoors and can cause animals to spook.
- Blue – Blue is highly visible and animals can also see it from a great distance.
- White – A bright solid white will make you stick out except in snowy conditions.
- Black – Black outlines the human silhouette making you more visible.
- Purple – An unnatural tone that contrasts with most outdoor environments.
- Orange – Required for safety but will announce your presence.
Avoiding these colors and sticking with camouflage suited to the terrain will go a long way towards keeping you concealed and hidden from wild game.
Using Camo Face Paint
In addition to camouflaged clothing, using face paint is another way to break up the human outline and prevent shine or glare that could spook animals. Neutral colored camo face paint can help conceal exposed skin on the face, ears, neck and hands.
Some tips for using camo face paint effectively:
- Stick to natural tones like brown, green, black, gray
- Add dark colors in shadow areas like eye sockets
- Use a matte finish to avoid glare
- Blot shine from oily areas like the nose and forehead
- Apply lighter colors to protruding areas like cheeks and chin
- Extend paint to cover exposed neck and hands
Taking the time to properly paint your exposed skin will vastly improve concealment and prevent game from catching movements or shine from your face and hands.
Blaze Orange for Safety
While camouflaging yourself is critical, safety is also imperative when hunting. Most states require hunters to wear some blaze orange clothing which is highly visible to other hunters. Typical requirements are:
- 200 square inches of blaze orange on the chest
- 200 square inches on the back
- Orange headwear or cap
So while you’ll want to avoid orange in general, make sure to comply with blaze orange regulations by wearing a vest, hat, and other accessories with the mandated amount of visible orange coloration.
Concealing Movement and Sound
Even when wearing top-notch camouflage suited to the terrain, hunters still need to avoid drawing attention through movement and sound:
Avoid Excess Movement
Any motion can catch an animal’s eye so move slowly, deliberately and stay low to the ground when changing positions.
Mask Unnatural Sounds
Noise from clothing like swishing and crinkling can startle game. Mask sounds by moving slowly and wearing quiet fabrics.
Make sure wind is not carrying your scent towards animals, which could alarm them and signal danger.
Use Blinds and Cover
Hunt from blinds, brush and tree cover to obscure and conceal your silhouette.
Mastering camouflage, minimizing movement, and masking noise are all critical skills for getting close to animals without them becoming aware of your presence.
Choosing the optimal camouflage colors and patterns for the terrain, while also avoiding movement and excess noise, will go a long way towards keeping you concealed and increasing your probability of hunting success. Stick to natural tones like greens and browns while hunting in the woods and brush. Use shades of tan and brown when hunting open fields and deserts. Make sure to break up your outline and silhouette using camo clothing, face paint, blinds and available cover. With the right camouflage and techniques for your environment, you can more stealthily get in prime position for your next trophy buck or bull.