By Nick Simonson
The green leaves of late summer around my head stood still in the morning calm to match my statuesque stance on the elevated platform overlooking the field where the set of three does and two fawns obliviously nibbled at the remaining vegetation. Only my heightened breath, directed out my nose and outlined by the cool humidity of the first day of the fall season was a giveaway that I was there. I was certain that my adrenaline-fueled pulse was quieted by the shirt, jacket and safety vest I had on. At the far end of the hay lot, a doe and a fork-horn buck in velvet made their way north to their rendezvous point with the main bunch, and the seven of them slowly ate their way down to the creek bottom, pausing in their breakfast activities with seven synchronized head raises to acknowledge the raucous morning call of a rooster pheasant.
The larger group had walked right by me, unseen in the gray metal of the stand surrounded by the leaf-bearing twigs and branches of the ash tree where my perch remained for a second season of bow hunting. While the elevated position certainly kept me out of the deer’s sight and smell range, and the foliage provided a break-up of my silhouette, the confidence in my undetectability came with putting on my camouflage hunting gear for the first time this season.
Sure, it’s not the same as Harry Potter’s cloak of invisibility, but it provides that sensation that once in place, I won’t stand out like a sore thumb, and any slight movement of my body or repositioning of a limb can be chalked up to leaves rustling in the wind, or a bird hopping from branch to branch. While camouflage can’t disguise all actions on stand, and I know that my movements in the past have tipped off deer that the hard-to-make-out form sitting 15 feet up shouldn’t be there, the confidence to slowly reach for the bow, or turn my head to watch a buck comes with the donning of the season’s favorite color pattern.
As the season progresses, so do the options of staying invisible. From light, long-sleeved tee shirts throughout September with hints of green, to brown and beige pullovers as the leaves turn and fall, to warm coats and coveralls in grays and whites to match the monochromatic hues of late season, the spectrum of camouflage provides the continued sense of invisibility throughout the entire stretch of the hunting season. Despite the studies that say blaze orange is virtually invisible to the vision of whitetail deer, when the time comes to gear up for gun season – whether I’m holding a firearm myself, or still just my bow – it’s hard to overcome the idea that a bright crack in my seasonal armor exists while glassing from a hillside or sitting on stand.
To compensate, I make sure all the other parts of my body are covered with camouflage, so at least I’m just a floating head and torso of orange against a backdrop of beige and gray. The mere sight of such a weird thing should cause deer to pause long enough to allow a clean shot, or for them to shrug it off and move along, chalking it up to the fermented fruits and frosted plants on they’ve been eating throughout the cool-weather season.
Akin to a purpledescent Rapala, a chartreuse spinner blade, or a pink-and-white jig and grub combo at the end of a fishing line, camouflage provides confidence, and sometimes that’s all a person needs in the outdoors. In a pattern to match the surroundings, or just to break up the human form from head to toe via hats, masks, gloves, shirts, jackets and boots, it makes up the fabric of the banner we all enter the field under this time of year; and in doing so, allows us the chance to seem invisible, and almost invincible…in our outdoors.
Featured Photo: A selection of accumulated camouflage patterns provides a variety of options throughout the hunting season. Simonson Photo.