One of the longest-running debates in hunting communities is whether you should use camo or solid colors when going out. While each one has distinct advantages, hunters can’t seem to come to a conclusion on which one is objectively better. The truth is, the right hunting gear depend on a variety of factors. Whether you are hunting in the eastern woods or western backcountry, bow hunting or rifle hunting, or sitting in a tree stand or ground blind, each situation and style calls for different hunting gear. In this guide I’ll explore the advantages and disadvantages of each one to help you determine which one meets your unique needs for the upcoming hunting season.
When Should You Choose Camo?
Generally, wearing camo hunting gear is the best option when you are hunting from short- to medium range. For example, eastern deer hunting often takes place in a wooded area where the shooter sets up in a tree stand or ground blind. This is because it is hard to line up a long shot with many trees around, so the hunter must conceal themselves until the deer get close. Camo patterns help break up your silhouette and blend in with your hunting blind and surroundings, making it harder for the deer to spot you. This means that using camo gear is the best option if you are plan to be within 200 yards of your target.
Another time you should always choose camo is when you are hunting waterfowl like ducks and geese. These animals have much better eyesight than deer, and they have evolved to spot predators quickly so that they can fly away. Even if you are using high-quality decoys to lure them in, any strange silhouettes or unnatural shapes can easily spook waterfowl, ruining your chances.
When Should You Choose Solid Colors?
While solid gear provides some concealment, this is not its main purpose. Therefore, the best scenario for this type of clothing is when you are shooting from a long range, typically at least 150-200 yards away and usually not in a direct line of sight. This style of hunting is most common in western big game hunting, where the main target is mule deer or elk. It also works for “pass shooting” hunting, such as doves, pheasants, and quail. Pass shooting involves going through an open field or using dogs to scare the birds into taking flight. In these cases, you don’t need concealment, as having the birds see you isn’t really a big deal.
The reason solid colors are better for long-range hunting is because mule deer and elk rely mainly on their smelling and hearing abilities to spot predators from a long distance. While their eyesight is sufficient to see predators that are approaching or are already close, they most likely won’t see you from a distance unless you are sticking out plainly.
Another huge benefit of wearing solid color hunting gear is that it tends to be cheaper. As previously mentioned, many camo patterns are patented, which means apparel companies must license them to use them in their clothes. This causes the overall cost of camo clothes to go up. Plus, with plain, solid clothes, you can wear them in many situations outside of hunting. Since they look just like normal clothes, you can wear them to the store, as work clothes, and more without sticking out.