Seriously, what happened to camouflage?
Let’s start this off with the obvious: camouflage is one of the least flattering wardrobe choices out there.
Unless you have supermodel good looks and a hunting uniform that somehow highlights all of your best physical features, chances are you don’t look your best out in the field (and that you wouldn’t wear your hunting clothes on a first date).
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, we can move on in assessing the bizarre way that camouflage has evolved in the hunting world over the years. 20 or 30 years ago, camouflage was known almost exclusively as the green, grey, and brown patterns that allowed hunters or military operatives to blend into the scenery of a forest or jungle.
For military use, a camouflage uniform might be the one thing standing between safety and a lethal bullet in the head; for hunters, the stakes are usually not so high, but since camouflage is the main thing that allows us to sit covertly in a deer’s environment without being noticed by the herd, it still serves a fairly important role in the lives of most of us.
So why today, when you walk into a hunting store, is camouflage so much more than the olive drab pattern that has defined the word “camouflage” or “camo” for so long?
Today, you see blue camouflage outfits which try to make some sort of fashion statement, or pink camouflage bows and guns from manufacturers trying to appeal to the female hunting audience (how’s that for stereotyped marketing?). And sure, the classic green, brown, and gray camouflage color schemes are still alive and well, but they are offset by hunting equipment and clothing that can make its wearers look like everything from cows – black and white camo, a thoroughly baffling and unappealing design – to the swamp thing – a gross purple and pink camouflage design with seemingly no redeeming qualities.
The question, of course, is why these new camouflage color schemes even exist.
It’s worth mentioning the sophistication that camo has developed in recent years. Digitally-created patterns developed by the military are now leaking into the hunting world. Brands are finding that a well-replicated pattern can be more effective, and therefore pushing forth with new and innovative color schemes that match particular regional landscapes and seasonal differences as well.
If we consider the purpose of camouflage to be something that can help hunters blend into their surroundings, then what good does a blue or pink camouflage outfit do? Neon blue and pink are not colors that occur in the woods, so hunters that actually wear them are standing out like a sore thumb instead of blending in.
Maybe that’s just it, hunters aren’t wearing blue and pink camo. It’s the outsiders, the non-hunters, who seem to believe it’s a wise fashion choice.
Some hunters argue that deer can’t really see color and that, as such, camouflage patterns are really what matter for the whitetail or mule pursuit. In reality, deer can see certain colors, and blue is one of them.
In other words, if you are hitting the woods in a blue camouflage suit, especially in low light conditions, you are going to glow like an iridescent jellyfish in the eyes of your prey.
Remember this while you are hunting: camouflage is meant to serve a specific function. It is not – and has never claimed to be – a fashion statement.
Camouflage works to break up the angular outline of your body, in turn helping you to blend into the woods. It does not serve to bring a new “hipster” look into the field. So leave your blue and pink camouflage at home, and stick with the tried and true olive drab.
You may not look “cool,” but you will look like a hero when you come marching out of the woods with a ten-point buck.