It's always important to take stock of our equipment and that includes making sure the right camouflage has been chosen for the stalking territory
By Jon Snowdon
Guests preparing to visit Greenlee for deer stalking often ask what they should bring with regards to equipment, especially clothing. They query if it is acceptable to wear camouflage – to which the answer is yes, of course. We do, however, stalk over some ground where those managing the estates would prefer camo not to be worn and I can fully understand their thinking.
Certain areas are sensitive and the sight of a fully camo’d up stalker with a rifle and a face veil could frighten, or at the least unnerve, some people. The public has every right to be there, as do we, and as responsible stalkers we must be careful not to frighten people where they have open access. It is diplomatic to bear that in mind when stalking around the woods with regard to dress and behaviour.
Let us take a broad look at camouflage. There are numerous types and patterns, ranging from the standard military disruptive-pattern material (DPM), which can be bought very cheaply, up to the digital-pattern camouflage that certainly takes more of an investment.
Do they work? Yes, of course they do, otherwise the armed forces would not use them. Military camouflage is meant to prevent the wearer from being spotted by other military personnel and their equipment. Stalkers are also trying to remain hidden and avoid being spotted by deer, which are not capable of seeing in the same level of detail that we are.
Deer have eyes either side of their head and can see around nearly 360 degrees. We, however, would suffer severe pain – not to mention death – trying to do the same. Deer can do so without even trying.
It is said that deer also see in monochrome, though some recent research suggests that they can see in colour, but not in the same way that a primate does. Some research suggests that they are able to see blues and greens and into the ultraviolet spectrum. Deer are certainly able to spot hi-viz orange – not due to the colour, but principally because of its reflective quality. They do not have the full spectrum of colour that we do, which is red, green and blue because the construction of their eyes is different from that of humans and they do not see red. So we have to ask the question, does wearing camouflage aid the stalker in his or her never-ending quest to remain invisible.
Camouflage is really all about breaking up a stalker’s outline. Deer have no focused central vision, their eyes are on the side of their head and sight is not their strongest sense. They are, however, experts at spotting movement. One scratch of your nose through that face veil and they will spot it. Keep still and camouflage certainly does give you properties similar to those of the invisible man.
However, the shades of camo do have to fit the habitat in which you are hunting – a wildfowling pattern doesn’t fit well in conifers and at times a simple dark green fits in well.
Given that deer can’t distinguish colour very well, most types of camouflage will break up your outline successfully enough, some better than others.
Do we have to use camouflage to be successful? The answer is no, but the right choice of camo for the area you stalk in helps. However, it is a matter of personal choice. Fieldcraft ensuring that we are not scented, heard or seen is the bottom line, but it is more easily said than done. Good hunting.