Most deer hunters spend considerable time deciding what rifle they want, what kind of cartridge to fire, and what scope they need. But when it comes to deciding on the best camo for deer hunting, many hunters may be less discerning.
It’s a mistake not to give serious consideration to the best camo for deer hunting. A host of factors, from the terrain being hunted to the time of year, need to be considered when choosing the right camo clothing.
As even casual hunters know, there are a lot of different camo patterns. A basic consideration when choosing camo is whether you want a pattern that mimics your surroundings or one that breaks up your bodily profile.
Read on for help with those issues and other factors in choosing the best camo for deer hunting for your circumstances.
Understanding Deer Vision vs Human Vision
It may not occur to you initially, but in choosing your best camo for deer hunting, it’s helpful to understand some things about deer vision. For example, while humans have binocular vision, using both eyes at the same time, deer have monocular vision.
What monocular vision means is that deer see with only one eye at a time. But there’s a benefit to that. It widens their field of view, so they can see potential threats from farther away. As a result, a deer is likely to see a hunter long before a hunter sees a deer.
Deer also are better able to see in low-light conditions than people. Practically, that means in the early morning hours, as hunters are settling into the woods, deer are better able to see hunters than vice versa.
Types of Camo
Early in your search for the best camo for deer hunting, you’ll notice that its wide range of patterns is divided into two main categories. Mimicry camo is designed to replicate the natural environment, while breakup camo is designed to break up your human outline.
Read on for more insight into these broad categories of camouflage. It’s a good first step in making your decision on what suits you as the best camo for deer hunting.
Whether you’re perusing the internet or visiting your favorite outdoor store, it’s easy to discern examples of mimicry camo. They’re the ones that feature photorealistic images of various natural environments.
Some may appear as a slice of woodland, featuring close-up tree branches and fall-colored leaves. Others may feature the reeds and stalks of marshland. Some may be seasonally themed, featuring bare trees against a background of snow.
It’s important here to include a brief note on 3D camo. Basically, an enhanced version of mimicry camo, 3D camo clothing includes bits of fabric hanging off the main garment to mimic leaves and other vegetation.
Ghillie suits, the most extreme example of 3D camo, will be explored later in this post as another option for the best camo for deer hunting.
Chances are that, like most hunters, the first thing that comes to your mind when thinking about the best camo for deer hunting is breakup camo. Broadly speaking, breakup camo comprises irregular splotches of color, most often in woodland hues. As its name indicates, breakup camo is designed to break up your profile against a natural background so deer don’t recognize you as a human shape.
There is a stylized version of breakup camo called abstract camo that takes both jagged and curving shapes in breakup camo to an extreme. Candidly, while it might work in many situations, abstract camo is more of a fashion statement than anything like the best camo for deer hunting.
Beyond the different types of camo, you’ll also need to think about the pattern you’ll want when choosing the best camo for deer hunting for yourself.
Many camo manufacturers have proprietary patterns, but there are some basic aspects to the wide array of available patterns. To get familiar with those basics, read on for information on deer-hunting camo patterns.
Woodland camo patterns can fall within either the mimicry or breakup types of camo, featuring either photo-style images or irregular swaths of color.
The important thing, as far as photorealistic woodland camo is concerned, is to match your camo to the season. Opt for trees filled with green leaves for spring and summer, a range of earthy colors for fall, and bare trees with light-colored backgrounds for winter.
If you’re favoring breakup camo for deer hunting, you won’t need to pay particular attention to one pattern over another. You will, though, want to be sure that the colors in your camo match the vegetation to ensure they are the best camo for deer hunting.
Because marshlands are associated more with waterfowl hunting than deer hunting, some deer hunters may not consider marsh-type camo as a best camo for deer hunting.
However, in the fall and winter — prime deer hunting seasons — deer are drawn to marshy areas to forage for food. Additionally, the tall grasses in marshlands provide deer with excellent cover from predators.
So, it’s worth the investment in photorealistic marshland camo, which routinely features tall brown and gray reeds, to try hunting in fall and winter wetlands. If your preference is for breakup camo for marshland hunting, choose patterns in grays and browns to break up your outline.
There are snow camouflage options for deer hunting comprising entirely white garments. In most instances, though, you’ll want a snow camouflage pattern that includes at least a few branchlike black markings to mimic bare trees.
If you’re hunting where some fall-colored leaves remain on trees in winter, you should choose a pattern depicting some limited fall-colored vegetation.
Macro and Micro Patterns
Within the world of breakup camo, you’ll find both “macro” and “micro” patterns. Macro patterns use broad swatches of seasonally appropriate colors, while micro patterns use smaller areas of seasonally appropriate colors.
Macro patterns help deer hunters blend with the overall environment, while micro patterns generally are best for close-range hunting. Macro patterns will be best for gun hunters, while micro patterns are great for bow hunters as the best camo for deer hunting.
When you’re on the hunt for deer, you need to conceal yourself from more than a deer’s vision. As you move through the woods, you’ll want to do so quietly. There are many options for “quiet camo” that reduce the noise of fabric moving against other fabric, skin, or vegetation.
Generally speaking, brushed cotton, wool, and fleece are going to be the quietest materials for your deer hunting camouflage. Of course, if you’re hunting in warmer times of the year, you may not want to wear wool or fleece.
You should know, though, that there are not yet any reliable standards for independently judging the effectiveness of scent-absorbing camo for deer hunting.
In addition to keeping you as concealed and silent as possible, the best camo for deer hunting will keep your scent from wafting through the woodlands. And there are choices among deer camo that have scent-absorbing capabilities.
Some manufacturers of scent-blocking camo embed carbon into their garments. But over time, according to reports, carbon becomes less effective for scent-blocking. In some instances, scent-blocking properties can be lost after 18 months.
Also, carbon-type scent-blocking camouflage will trap heat while it’s being worn. But even in winter, that can be an issue if sweat begins to form as the camo is worn. And, of course, at any time of year, having a too-warm garment can make deer hunting uncomfortable.
Some scent-absorbing camos use cyclodextrins — various sugar molecules bound together — to absorb bodily scents. Once trapped by the cyclodextrins, the odors are freed from the camo clothing during washing. Cyclodextrin camo must be washed with odor-free detergent.
While it’s not technically camouflage, clothing embedded with silver fiber can eliminate body odors when worn as a first layer. The silver kills odor-producing bacteria leaching off of the skin. Silver fibers are available in gloves and hoods as well as other garments.
If you do your deer hunting from a tree stand, there are many options for camouflaging the stand itself with a tent-like structure, concealing you inside.
But what if you don’t want to deal with camouflaging the entire tree stand? In that case, the best camo for deer hunting will be gray or dark colors and patterns that imitate tree bark.
If you want to go all-out with the best camo for deer hunting, you’ll want a ghillie suit. Basically, a loosely draped cloth or net garment, a ghillie suit is embedded with burlap and other fabric scraps. Designed to break up the human outline, ghillie suits can also be augmented with actual vegetation.
Ghillie suits are incredibly versatile and can be used to mimic nearly any type of natural background. Combined with deer urine to mask human scent and a camo facemask or camo face paint, a ghillie suit will make any deer hunter virtually invisible.
Normally configured as a jacket and pants, ghillie suits are worn above other hunting clothes. While you won’t be moving around once you’ve established your hunting spot, opt for a lightweight ghillie suit for whatever walking you’ll need to do.
Wrapping up Choosing the Best Camo for Deer Hunting
Understanding the characteristics of the best camo for deer hunting is the first step in making your own best decision. From camo types to camo patterns to other concealment issues, this post has covered a wide range of considerations for informing your decision.
For further exploration of the fascinating world of hunting, check out these other hunting posts at Life in Minnesota.