To become a successful hunter, you must first learn to become invisible. The difference between being camouflaged and becoming invisible requires overcoming all of the natural defenses of the game you pursue.
Their keen senses of sight, hearing, and smell make keeping game totally unaware of your presence the ultimate outdoor challenge as you prepare to make your shot.
Today’s camouflage patterns make it easy to blend into the surroundings. What gets hunters seen is usually one of three things — movement, exposure or silhouette.
The most common mistake that catches the eye of your prey is movement. Being still requires three things. Be patient, enjoy the moment and relax. Be disciplined. Prepare mentally for extended blind or stand time. Above all, be comfortable. If you’re not comfortable, you’re going to move and there is no substitute for being still.
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Another common mistake that allows hunters to be seen is not taking the time to ensure they are properly covered up. The glare from a watch or other jewelry, the flash of a cell phone or even exposed skin is all it takes to alert nearby game, and they will know where you are. Take that extra minute to ensure you’ve got everything covered.
Don’t stand out! The art of camouflage is to blend into the environment by combining what you’re wearing and using the shadows and natural surroundings to break up your silhouette, allowing you to disappear.
However, in order to vanish without a trace, you must go totally undetected. In a world where even the slightest of sounds can trigger an alarm, not being heard is as important as not being seen.
This requires stealth, discipline and quality gear. The biggest challenge is getting to and from the stand. Walking through a forest floor covered with dried, brittle leaves and twigs will test the skill of the most experienced outdoorsman but can be accomplished if you follow these simple rules. Look where you’re going. Map out your steps in advance. Make each step wisely. Step heel-to-toe. Go slowly, stopping and regrouping after three or four steps. And, equally important is taking the time to secure and quiet your gear. This extra precaution is a critical part of noise control while moving in the woods.
The second and probably most overlooked noise maker is what you wear. Today’s camouflage manufacturers are using innovative, specialized fabrics that are durable, softer and quieter. Look for material that will breathe while you’re moving, insulate when you’re not, and offer enough stretch that will maximize your mobility without creating a sound. You want it soft, lightweight and silent.
The last step in becoming invisible requires a scent management system. The first thing to consider is your clothing. Buy quality scent locking/blocking clothing. Wash your clothing in scent-eliminating detergent. Dry clothing on a line outside away from harmful odors such as tobacco, cooking, campfires and gas, or you can use scent-free dryer sheets in the dryer. Store all clothing, boots and hats in a scent-free environment until you get to the woods. Change clothes before heading to the stand and before returning home.
The second thing to consider is the odor naturally produced by our body, and scents that you are exposed to before going to the field. These are easily controlled by using any number of the quality scent-eliminating soaps, shampoos, deodorants, powders, wipes and sprays on the market. These give you an advantage by eliminating existing odors and preventing new ones from developing.
Finally, tip the odds in your favor by hunting downwind of your quarry. This is often overlooked, but even the slightest breeze can carry a warning, allowing your target to slip away unseen.
Your success will ultimately be determined by the ability to disappear without a trace.