by Brandon Cox
When shopping for camouflage, it’s hard to resist the bargain area where camos are sold for less than retail. Usually, the camos featured in the clearance section are out of season. However, some hunters will jump at the chance to save on camouflage and wear it in the woods – regardless of the season.
Some hunters will even go as far as mismatching their camos with many different seasons in one outfit. While they may have saved a few dollars, they might have ruined their chance to catch a buck, which can be a much bigger loss in the big scheme of things. Why you ask? Despite what people will try to tell you, camo patterns matter, especially when hunting whitetail deer.
Why Does Camo Pattern Matter so Much?
You don’t have to take our word for it, or anyone else’s just evaluated the science. Whitetail deer have one focus in life, and that is to survive. Scientists have told us that whitetail deer have 2 cone cell eyes. What this means is they don’t see the same way other animals or humans see.
Due to the way their eye is created, deer don’t see the colors yellow or red very well. Instead, they mostly see all colors in shades of yellow or blue with some shades of green. While their sight is somewhat limited, deer see the best in low light, which mostly includes sunrise and sunset.
Deer are also known to have great eyesight right after fresh snow hits the ground. While deer don’t usually see colors, they do have pretty clear vision. In fact, a deer’s eye can dilate anywhere from 7mm to 8mm. In comparison, a normal human eye can only dilate to a maximum of 8mm.
You’re probably catching on by now and realize that deer’s eyesight and changing foliage has a great deal to do with camo patterns. Basically, if you get caught wearing the wrong camo at the wrong time of day or season, your chances of killing a buck are based more on prayer than talent or planning. To avoid being caught unprepared, you need to know what camo patterns are best for which season.
Preferable Early Season Camo Patterns
In most states, early bow season for whitetail starts towards the end of September. Usually, the trees and grass are still pretty green at this time. This is a good thing for hunters because they can opt for their trusty green patterned camouflage.
Everything in the woods is pretty green, so a deer isn’t going to immediately notice you covered in a green pattern stalking him from the woods. However, as the trees begin to shed their leaves and the grass loses its bright green luster, you need to rethink the color of your camos if you want to go undetected.
Wear Broken Green Camos in Fall
Once the trees have changed color, you need to change the color of your camos. Since the area around you isn’t bright green anymore, you don’t want to appear that way to deer. Shades of green are easy for deer to see, especially when everything around you is changing.
You might think you can get away with wearing bright green camos if you’re sitting in a treestand, but that simply isn’t true. The only way a deer might not notice your green camo in a tree is if you’re sitting in an evergreen. Otherwise, if a deer catches a glimpse of you in the tree, you’ll look more like a blob sitting in a tree instead of a part of the tree.
Since deer are engineered to focus on survival, the simple presence of an odd blob in a tree might be enough to spook them. And once deer runs, they’re sure to spook all their friends.
Instead, fall deer hunters should opt for a broken pattern. A broken pattern has a duller brown and green color with hints of orange and rustic changes, which will help you stay hidden in the woods.
Late Fall – Stick with Fall Camos
Luckily, you don’t need camos for every season. As long as there isn’t any snow on the ground yet, you can wear the same camos in late fall as you did when the trees first began to change. The only exception to this rule is right after it snows.
Don’t Cloak Yourself in White After it Snows
Many hunters want to cloak themselves in white camo patterns after the first snow. We understand the logic, but you have to remember that deer see extremely well after fresh snow hits the ground.
Instead of opting for an all-white approach, hunters should try to wear camouflage with broken patterns. It’s important to avoid solid white or other solid dark clothing. By wearing broken patterns in the winter, you’ll be harder to see and won’t spook deer as you climb into and out of your treestand.
Now you know why there are so many hunting camo patterns on the market. Not all are created the same nor do they all deliver the same results. Instead, each is unique and it’s up to you to decide which color or pattern is right for your area. No matter what color, shade, or pattern you choose, it’s important to keep the following information in mind.
- Make sure your hunting packs match your camo (so they won’t give you away)
- Never wash camos in a laundry detergent that uses UV brightening agents (it will make any camo easier for deer to see)
- If something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to change it
Now that you know why camo patterns are important to the success of your hunt, you’re ready to go shopping. You no longer have to fear the bargain section. Just remember if you’re buying out of season camos at a discounted price, it’s important to keep those in the closet to the following year.
It’s a bunch cheaper to buy new camos for every season then it will be to stock your freezer with meat for the winter if you lose out on a buck because you wore the wrong gear hunting.