July 02, 2013
By Eric Conn
If you hang out long enough in the hunting world, you'll quickly realize there are a lot of different types of folks out there. There are the dyed-in-the-wool rednecks with giant trucks, Confederate flags and muddin' tires, and there are the eco-conscious adventure seekers who spend the off-season mountaineering in Argentina or surfing in California. Some shop at Walmart and others at Whole Foods, but together we make up one big, happy family.
Any way you look at it, the diversity of our community is what makes it so unique. It also means we can stop from time to time and have a good hearty laugh as we poke a bit of friendly fun at each other's quirks. We'll probably always make sport, for instance, of the idiosyncrasies of our redneck brethren — even if we happen to fall into that category — and we'll always crack a few jokes about the Frappuccino-buying yuppies in our midst.
It's in that spirit we sat down for a humorous look at what your camo choices say about you. At the end of the day, you can't take yourself too seriously. Have a good laugh and be inspired to heckle your buddies about their camo preferences, too.
Every time I stare up at an Under Armour
mannequin, I imagine myself running through the woods looking like a steroid-induced gym rat whose biceps regularly rip through the sleeves in my jacket. That fantasy lasts about as long as it takes me to walk past a mirror, but it's slightly enjoyable nonetheless. If Under Armour is your camo of choice, there's a good chance you're living the American dream as a mostly out-of-shape hunter with love handles and a beer gut, yet wearing apparel that makes you feel like a pro-athlete. Just feeling like you're ripped is worth the price of admission.
We might call this the 'Duck Dynasty Effect. ' It's the unique ability of a clothing company to make a bunch of rednecks with sasquatch-like beards look cool. For most American hunters that's great news, because when it comes to our physique, we have more in common with the Robertson boys than we do a linebacker in the NFL.
Flannel and Wool
Some people do yoga, but if your hunting attire consists of flannel and wool, your moment of inner peace comes only after you've killed a deer with the same rifle you used to fight the Germans in World War II. You like the way cold steel feels in your bare hand, and nothing caps off a good meal of red meat and potatoes like a glass of Scotch and a fine cigar. You stay away from salads because no, you are not a rabbit, and you would never think of drinking anything with fruit or an umbrella in it. You're a Miller High Life man, and you often chop wood in your backyard without a shirt on, just to feel your chest hair glisten in the sun.
Anyone with long hair is called a 'hippie, ' and anyone who has a thick beard or stache on his face is called a 'man. ' Guys who wear designer clothes in the field are called 'yuppie pretty boys ' and clearly never lived through the Great Depression. The thought of hand lotion makes you nauseous, so instead you lather up your bear paws with a bottle of Hoppe's No. 9. If deer don't like the smell of Hoppe's and bacon grease, well they can kiss your all-American backside.
For some folks, hunting is something you do once a year after saving up for an outfitter and a fancy out-of-state tag. For those who sport Realtree
coveralls, hunting is something you do everyday — probably in your own backyard. Small critters and neighborhood cats don't stand a chance on your premises, and every year you prove to all what a stone-cold, turkey-killing machine you are. Hell yeah, your shotgun's in Realtree, too.
Sure, you got an antlered raccoon head for a hood ornament and a case of Bud Light in a cooler behind the seat of your F-350 at all times. You never know when thirst could strike. Yeah, those are muddin' tires, and yeah, you're a whitetail killin' son of a gun, too. You might have been married in a Realtree and blaze orange tuxedo, and yes, you believe road kill is best served with mashed potatoes and fried okra. You wouldn't even think of dating a chick who didn't like your Realtree home décor or a romantic evening together at Hooters. Yes, that's a Confederate flag on the pole in front of your house, and yes, you still watch re-runs of The Dukes of Hazard every Sunday morning before church. God Bless 'Merica.
If you have a Michael Waddell
bobble head doll in your room, Bone Collector
sheets on your bed and can't fall asleep unless you hear Waddell's sweet Southern drawl on the TV in the background, you're probably a ScentBlocker
fanatic. The most recent of your girlfriends to walk out said you had OCD, but you see no problem requesting your woman shower with scent-free soap, use scent-free deodorant and wash the sheets with scent-free detergent. Maybe it was a little over the top when you sprayed her down with Scent Killer as she slept, but you're willing to do anything to improve your chances in the treestand. A woman's got to know that about you.
Yes, you make all your buddies sleep in a quarantined, scent-free room you developed after researching best practices for Hazmat facilities, and you transport all your clothes in scent-free carbon bags. Maybe some people find it strange that a truckload of dudes rides out to a cornfield in their boxers, but it's just the price you're willing to pay for success.
If you're wearing the original Trebark camo
, there's a pretty safe bet you're a blue-collar traditionalist. You're not wowed by the space age, scent-blocking clothes these newbies are wearing, and to you 'carbon ' is just a cute word for a fossil. You might hunt with a compound bow, but you're probably more at home with a stickbow and some arrows you hand carved out of a single spruce tree with a pocketknife. If you've got the original Trebark, you've also been around the block a few times.
Your hunting hero? Probably Fred Bear, not of one of those 25-year-old pretty boys with makeup on and way too much hair gel. When you talk, you sound like Sam Elliot, and as for scent control products, you prefer bacon grease, pipe tobacco and beard wax. You're not merely trying to avoid detection — you're trying to let that monster buck know: there's a man in these woods.
As a seasoned historian of archery, you also know the original Trebark camo was invented by Jim Crumley (left) back in the 70s and hit the market in 1980. Crumley was one of the first to produce hunting-specific camo, and he got his start by dabbing splotches of brown dye on gray work clothes to match his surroundings. Eventually, he began hand drawing bark and tree patterns on his clothes with a magic marker — a testimony to the kind of industrious, do-it-yourself bowhunter you always aspired to be.
In case you missed it, pink has made a big comeback — and it doesn't have anything to do with Barbie dolls or dudes wearing fruity colored shirts and eyeliner. No, we're talking about pink camo bows, pink camo t-shirts, iPhone cases, purses and even pink camo draperies. We're talking about girls in cowboy hats, guys in skin-tight women's jeans who listen to Luke Bryan and folks who love an all-night bonfire with coolers of beer. We're talking about bleach blonde hair, surgically enhanced upper torso regions, wet t-shirt bowfishing contests and yes, pink camo.
I suppose this is like the Disney princess generation of hunters, except instead of long flowing hair, ballroom dresses and a G rating, they've got pink camo ribbons in their hair and 20-pound, pink compound bows in their hands. I don't know what it is about the color pink, but it really puts the estrogen back in hunting. As long as men don't start wearing pink camo and carrying pink man bags, I think most of us are willing to live with a little bit of pink in the world.
Wearing Sitka hunting gear
is a bit like being an avid Apple connoisseur — it says you care about image as much as functionality, and you're willing to pay a premium for it. So grab your latte or espresso from Starbucks
, wrap yourself up in one of the latest digital camo prints for a specific season and region of the world, and embark on your next outdoor adventure. Climb into your Toyota Tundra
, throw in your Yeti Cooler
and roll down the road with that folk rock blaring.
When you're a Sitka-ite, you don't go hunting; you go on extreme adventures. You don't kill animals; you harvest them. You're not even a hunter; you're a Sitka athlete. You don't wear clothes; you put on gear. You also go solo into the wildest parts of the world€¦with a full film crew. You're not just about the kill; you're about the process. You don't just go hunting; you live the sustainable lifestyle. The only thing you buy at the grocery store is quinoa and organic asparagus to go with your venison steak. Don't even play, homey: we all know you use the little carts at Whole Foods.