Contributors to this thread:
Camouflage for Elk hunting
I just got back from and Elk hunt in Colorado and it was my first time bowhunting for Elk. One morning I had four Bulls called into shooting distance by my guide. I had thick oak brush in front of me and behind me with clear area to my left and right. Each time a bull would come around the brush they would instantly spot me, like I was wearing a neon sign, and all but one were headed at least 90 degrees to me. All four of the Elk stared at me for differing periods of time and three bolted. I was not moving, the wind was in my favor, and I was backed up against Oak brush in the shadows the best I could. I was wearing Cabela's Zonz Western Camo which did match the Oak brush exactly, but has a pretty good break up pattern in my opinion. I also had camo paint to break up my face. The only thing I can think of that I did wrong was we were out of the counter UV dryer sheets when I washed my clothes the day before. I was hoping some of you more experienced Elk hunters could offer some advice and if this has happened to any of the bowsite contributors.
What did your guide have to say about it? I don't know.
I’ve had success with having something at my back. I like to stand up against a bush or tree. It seems like they notice things out of place. I can’t imagine it was a camo issue and I bet 99% of elk are killed by people not using UV dryer sheets.
ASAT camo, the leafy suit is great also. Best stuff out there IMO.
More likely movement that gave you away. I look like a camofire garage sale when elk hunting. Half my stuff are solid colors.
Wind and movement will give you way more than what camo you are wearing.
PECO, guide said it could have been small movements (breathing, blinking, etc) He likes big camo patterns (KUIU, Predator, ASAT).
Being absolutely still is more important than camo in my opinion, but having said that, I'm also a believer in ASAT.
My guess is that they cut your scent trail. That being said , the best camo is sitting still. Personally, I wear ASAT, but I still work on sitting still. Not too successfully many times, but occasionally I get it done.
Better luck next time.
I was wearing ASAT Camo First Lite and had a bull walk right up to within 6" that's inches of my face and tried to figure out what I was. He sniffed for a couple of seconds and was gone. The wind was perfect, I was kneeling down and didn't move. My guide was watching and said he wished he'd been filming it.
I agree with scent. Most of the time that's what it is.
Complete ASAT leafy suit cost 140 dollars, Sitka complete outfit, north of 500 dollars. Easy decision for most, Although Charlie tyour way of saying "All Sitka All the Time" is a good play on words lol.
You would have had the same result in any camo or even wearing a red plaid flannel shirt with blue jeans. It had absolutely nothing to do with the camo.
It was probably because once the elk came around the corner you were standing in the open with nothing behind you. He was looking for another elk so he sees you in the open and thinks, whoa that blob's not an elk, I'm outta here. Especially if you had even the slightest movement or noise.
I'm a fan of ASAT. Having said that I don't think the price comparison of a leafy suit to technical clothing is particularly fair.
My first day, first ever elk hunt I called a small raghorn bull into almost literal KARATE range. I was in the woods but standing between the aspens with nothing breaking my outline. I have since come to find out that movement and, being in bright sunny spots illuminating me is what gets their attention. Not camo type or, the lack of it.
I'm guessing being in oak brush, you had the sun on you in some way or moved at the inappropriate time. God Bless
Cabelas Microtex in Outfitter and Sportwash have been a great combo for me. Never once had an issue I would contribute to my duds.
Some of the new synthetic fabrics are very shiny in the sun. So I'll change my comment somewhat. The camo pattern itself doesn't matter but some of these new fabrics shine like a mirror in the sun light. I don't know what fabric is used for the Zonz but you might have someone take a photo of you wearing the Zonz and other camo in direct sunlight. Compare the photos to see if your camo is shiny.
"I had thick oak brush in front of me and behind me with clear area to my left and right."
Aspen Ghost nailed it, imo. They caught your form and movement because of the clear area.
Where was the caller? If he was right beside you, elk are terrific at pinpointing sound location. He came in knowing where you were and even with poor elk vision made you out. If he was setup away, I suspect you probably moved ever so slightly or just didn't look natural by way of some terrain feature that no camo is going to cure. Camo is way down on the list of likely culprits.
Upon re-reading, I have determined you are most likely trying to sell us UV eliminating dryer sheets. WTF I never even heard of such a gimmick.
Camo doesn't matter!
Not to say it happened in this case...... but I've hunted with a bunch of folks not used to hunting on the ground and so many busted just like that were "fidgeting"..... they were moving and really didn't know it they were so excited. I would tell them they were moving and to keep still...... they swore (sometimes literally.... =D) that they didn't even blink. One guy's head was like it was on a swivel and he swore he never so much as wriggled......
I understand.....hard thing to do when your heart is pounding so hard you'd swear they could hear it......
Lots of guys hate hunting in the wind, but I like some wind, covers sound and movement. When it's still and an insect flying a hundred yards away catches your attention..... multiply that to these animals a dozen times over.....
Could be like they said above also..... clear lanes to left and right means anything that steps into those lanes you are "skylined" or at least in the open with no background. Unless you were at full draw when they stepped into the lane you were screwed. That's another thing that gets folks not used to hunting on the ground.... getting drawn early.
I have no idea what a "counter uv drier sheet" even is?
You'd think nobody ever killed an Elk before all this stuff came along...
I have stood right out in the open, so close to a young bull that he was looking DOWN at me , and I could hear his teeth grinding as he chewed and listen to the snot-bubbles pop. I could also hear my bow-string thrumming every time my pulse slammed into my fist.
And I was wearing faded, 15-year-old Army surplus, woodland camo BDU pants and a green & tan plaid shirt with a little face-paint for good measure.
Not while he was looking , anyway; but I had first spotted him at about 30 yards and I managed to sneak an arrow out of my Catquiver and onto the string as he approached.
In any event.... You probably ought to check it for shine, but unless you were flashing him.... I wouldn't fault the camo. Though it might have been a good day for a cow-butt decoy about 5 yards from your postion...
I was about to post about shine as well.
Movement, wind and pressured elk will bust you more often than anything. I was just putting all my gear away last weekend and made the comment that the elk didn't seem to mind the backpacking pack my son was wearing that was all black and he was standing right next to me when I shot my bull.
When I shot my elk this year he stood still and stared right at me. I had to draw and kneel down to get under branches and he never moved. I feel he was coming in to fight another bull and just didn't care. Also, we were several miles in and I doubt he'd seen people yet and didn't know to be spooked.
I doubt your camo made any difference but tell your wife it did and buy some Sitka. Here's open country vs. sub alpine.
I agree with TD. Have had the same thing happen to me. Duck hunting and telling guys to quit moving their head watching the circling ducks. . . they'll say, "I'm not moving". But I'm watching them move.
That, and I have a superstition about staring directly at animals. I always avert my gaze when animals are close, and watch them out of my peripheral vision until it's time to pick a spot. Especially if they're wired. I'll watch the ground, instead of staring at the animal. I NEVER make eye contact. That's the quickest way to make something bolt
"They caught your form and movement because of the clear area."
Only if you were silhouetted (skylined) would they see your humanlike form...
I take a large selection of camo patterns with me. Lay them out in the vegetation/country I will be hunting and pick the ones that blend in the best. One mistake 90% of hunters make is to wear the same camo color/pattern on the tops and bottoms. Obviously it's super important to break up the human profile!
With that said, were you standing when the elk bolted? It may have been your human profile they bolted from? Movement and scent are other guesses.
I'm color-blind and the thing that stands out when I see hunters from a distance is the human profile and/or movement. Dark colors on a light background or light colors on dark are obviously going to spook game. Similar camo/colors on top and bottom is not good...no matter how well you may think they blend in!
+1 for jims' point on mismatched patterns - if they aren't all about the same value (in terms of light/dark), it doesn't matter so much if they blob out, because you'll blob into several not-human shapes.
I got turned on to that when I saw a squad of African anti-poaching soldiers on TV - amazingly effective camo at a bit of a distance, and it was just clothing made with each piece of fabric in one of three solid colors (tan, brown or green) mixed at random.
So my jackets don't match my pants don't match my gaiters don't match my gloves don't match my hat. I'm a walking Fashion Disaster.... but only if you see me.
And good point on not making eye contact. At the very least, they don't know for sure that you've seen them. That's how that bull got so close without seeing me; once we made eye contact he got a lot less comfortable with the situation and walked off like he had someplace to be.
all my camo for elk hunting is either Sitka open country or Sitka solids..the solids work just as well.
Camo doesn't matter, I have had them walk up to me wearing blaze orange.
Light earth tone clothing under ASAT leafy suit. The silky shiny stuff is for the wife in the bedroom.
Spend money if it makes you feel good but my money is on "it wasn't what you were wearin". Note my high dollar pattern that never got noticed at 20 yards
Spend money if it makes you feel good but my money is on "it wasn't what you were wearin". Note my high dollar pattern that never got noticed at 20 yards
I guess you needed HECS ;-) ; He caught your energy...LMAO
A LOT of the Cabelas ZONES camo has UV in it. I would test with black light immediately and if it is glowing I would be contacting Cabelas about paying for your next hunt...
Really no need for camo at all. He probably saw you blink. LOL! One thing I have learned is to never make direct eye to eye contact with them.
99.9% chance it was something other than your camo...
Like many others, I vote movement, or wind gave you away.
I've sat (motionless) in the wide open, nothing else around me, and had elk walk by me at less than 10 feet on multiple occasions over the Years. Had nothing to do with my camo.
Best of Luck, Jeff
I don't buy into the UV or any of other fads that separates me from my money. I wear the cheap Walmart stuff, and have been very successful. I would buy Kuiu or like products if I could afford it, but not for the camouflage, but for there advance technology / comfort. The elk either winded you or saw movement. I never setup with anything in front of me, but make sure that my outline is broke up with whatever is behind me.
"Not to say it happened in this case...... but I've hunted with a bunch of folks not used to hunting on the ground and so many busted just like that were "fidgeting"....."
Seriously, when a guide says "stop moving" it means your breath even slows down so you can "hear through" the noise your chest is making. Touch your chin to your chest and just wait for the bull to put his head behind a tree.
I agree with elknut, aspen, squirrel on this one. Camo is the least of your worries. I have been plenty close to elk with street clothes on. Stop moving and put your back against some background.
Deer and Elk have very good vision in the blue end of the spectrum. Most laundry detergents have UV brighteners added to them to make the colors "pop"
It is possible they saw this on your clothing. Is it definite? no, and we really have no way to know for certain what spooked them.
Personally, I want every advantage possible, especially when hunting with a bow. I use scent killer sprays, and fragrance-free non-uv brightening detergents. While they may not help, they certainly don't hurt.
I'm a big fan of leafy suits. leaves move, and tree limbs move, so that's a lot more natural than some blob moving. I've got an ASAT suit, as well as a cheapie off the internet for $50 in a Realtree pattern.
Camo or not, it does sound like you were "whiffed" which means nothing you wore would have helped.
First Lite ASAT for me. Out hunting this year in north Idaho standing still and my buddy walked within 5 feet and didn't notice me. Also the bull we killed looked right at me and had no idea I was even there, I was standing in the middle of a clearing with no back ground brush or trees.
I bet the wind was swirling more than you think. I can understand movement for one elk. Camos for a second. 4 elk?
100% Wind. Regardless of animal, when you get pegged that many times it's usually the wind.
I'm a fan of Kuiu, but a guide of 25 yrs. said all he ever wore was a black top and army green pants. He said look into the woods ands what colors you see. A lot black and green spots. In morning and eve more black spots.
When I guided rifle elk hunters I've called elk into within feet of hunters wearing blaze orange jackets and hats.
Blacktail Bob is one of the best bowhunters in the world and he doesn't wear camo. My friend who I hunted with in Australia, also a world-class bowhunter, had a saying - "Camo, schmamo".
Camo pattern choice is mostly to give the hunter confidence and for manufacturers to sell more stuff.
Camo-Most over-rated aspect to perceived elk hunting success. What spooked them? I don't know, but it wasn't your camo.
I wear whatever camo I have handy. None of it matches.
Key is set up. Set up where your outline is broken up. Do NOT set up in the sun. Be in the shadows. You will have to move sometime. Make sure you do it when elk's eyes cannot easily see you. Do NOT draw when the elk is stopped looking at you. If you do not have cover, wait until elk has slightly passed your location.
Lastly, (And I don't see this very often), don't do anything until the lead cow is out of sight. She is hyper alert and sensitive. Best in the herd. Don't blink, fart or move until she is passed you.
Chuck Adams never wore camo until he started pimping for Cabelas!
I think you moved or blinked or looked them in the eyes!!!! ;)
I was caught in the open, I did not move, I did not look them in the eyes just peaked out of the corners under my white/ tan full brimmed hat. The lead cow was 20 yds ahead 45ish from me. I drew when the bull was 20 yds and looking away, he jumped to 25 yds broadside and I was at full draw.
Camo isn't necessary, though I think it allows some less deliberate hunters to get away with some things (like myself). Also majority of "hunting" clothes are camo, all the fancy fabrics and pockets.. zippers etc usually come in camo and are more difficult to find in a plain pattern.
I agree w/ your guide and large patterns, a lot of camo is designed to be attractive to the human eye.. by that, most camo are more designer than function. Next time you spot a hunter at a distance notice his camo pattern and how much he looks like a blob (or not).
I've heard that game can see blue like Dorobuta said in a previous post. That's why I wear my blue Seahawk Air fleece whenever possible. Even though game can see the color blue, it still doesn’t seem to spook them unless you move or they smell you.
You can fool their eyes, you can fool their ears, but you cannot fool their nose. Decoys seem to work, calls seem to work, but I have found nothing that fools their nose.
Elk that smell you don't stand a stare. Probably movement.
I got stuck once in the open and had a cow walk ups and sniff my back - twice. Amazingly, she did not spook. Weird.