Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Case for Flannel...

     I like camouflage...I admit it. Like most of today's hunters, I've fallen prey to the allure of all things camo and besides, it looks cool...It's become the defacto uniform of hunters, outdoor types and self proclaimed rednecks from all points rural and country. It's evolved from military usage, to duck hunters, to deer hunters, to fashion statement...You can buy everything from clothing, carpet, wallpaper, furniture, beer coozees and even underwear in some sort of camo pattern. It comes in every muted shade and hue of green, brown, black, and gray! It's a huge business, but is it really needed? Do the deer or turkeys care if you're wearing MossyOak, Realtree or Natgear or decked out like a member of Delta Force or SEAL Team 6? For eons, native and aboriginal people got the job done in the fields and woods without wearing the latest version of concealment technology. Look at any outfitter or hunting guide out West and nine times out of ten, he's wearing a big ol' cowboy hat and blue jeans with a Carhart jacket and it doesn't seem to phase the game...


     A few years ago, I decided that I'd rail against the camouflage establishment! Well, that's an overstatement, but I did decide to do my own form of protest/experiment and go an entire archery season "sans" camo. I wanted to see if I really needed to wear my gear to trick the deer's vision and to see if I felt less confident in the woods without it. Would I feel naked? Less of a "He Man" or the "Great White Hunter"? My new hunting get up consisted of a second hand pair of Swiss Army surplus wool trousers and an old flannel shirt of unknown origin. I looked like my grandpa in the 1950's!..the challenge was set.


     The season had rolled along like most do...several deer had been seen, but none taken. A couple of close encounters with some good bucks, but I hadn't been able to seal the deal. I couldn't help but think that maybe my lack of "camouflaginess" had something to do with no venison being in the freezer. Maybe it was the fact that after wearing wool pants several days in a row, they develop an aroma all their own! I had played the wind and my set up was perfect...15' up a hickory tree surrounded by oaks dropping acorns every time the breeze blew. I should have a buck within range...if only I was camo'ed...hmmm.


     Late October found me in my spot once again...a warm evening with a gentle wind. Acorns covered the ground, but still no action. I had scouted the area and knew the farm well. If I put my time in, sooner or later a buck would show. Evening was passing by and that gray of dusk settled in. I was deep in the woods, so the darkness seemed more harsh than in the field edges. Finally, movement far down the dry creek bed...Bits and pieces at first, but then he appeared. A nice buck headed my way. He was fast tracking to my acorn spot, but coming in above me...we were going to be close to eye level. My heart was pounding and I whispered to myself to hold still, don't move...I could hear my pulse beating in my ears! 20 yards and coming...don't make eye contact...15 yards, 12 yards...he lowers his head to grab and acorn or two. I can hear the crunching as he peels the outer shell off the nut...less than 10 yards and I'm still invisible. Frame by frame, the string comes back, anchor, release and all hell breaks loose and the arrow connects and he tears down the creek...silence...then the crash that all bowhunters pray to hear...I sit back as the adrenalin rush leaves me. I grin to myself as I look at my "hand me down" flannel shirt...guess I didn't need my camo after all...but I still think it looks pretty, darn cool!