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Body Camouflage

by Tom Brown Jr.

Most people who come through my advanced tracking/nature awareness classes are surprised to learn that there is more to the art of body camouflage than buying some camo clothes or dabbing on some mud. In fact, camouflage is an art form as varied as the landscape and the individual animals that inhabit it. What I hope to accomplish in the following paragraphs is to give the student first-hand knowledge of this forgotten art form, enabling him to hide himself in any landscape with little or no cover.

Selecting the area is of utmost importance. First you must find a suitable transition area free of pushdowns and escape routes, indicating that the area will be a good one to lay in wait. Animals in these areas are less spooky and more at ease, especially in the feeding areas. A place to hide must then be selected, close to a trail, within' touching distance of the animal, with very little cover for yourself, and a place where the animal will feel at ease.

Special care should be taken not to go into the area. The less disturbance in the area the better. Reading the animal tracks at a distance will also enable you to determine what time you should position yourself in your hide. Take special note of the terrain you intend to hide in, watching color, texture, shape and shadow so that you can duplicate this when back near your camp area.

You should then de-scent yourself as instructed during the standard class, using bath, sweatlodge, and odiferous plants found in the area you intend to hide. I know that the de-scenting process is a long and involved procedure, but how bad do you want to touch an animal? I remember showing Stalking Wolf a set of camouflage overalls that a friend had. He simply said that no store could duplicate the texture and ambiance of an area in one kind of camo clothing. Camo is for people who only want to look at animals from a distance. The following procedure is long and involved but it is worth the effort when you touch your first deer.

"Blending" is the process of rubbing your body completely with ash from an old campfire. Make sure that these ashes are not wet or pasty from the rain as it will make a lye paste and burn the skin. Try to rub in ash that darkens or lightens the skin as a base coat for your area. If the area you are going to hide in is light in color, use a light ash; if dark, use a dark ash. Rub all parts of the body completely including face and hair, so that you appear one monotonous color. Don't forget the Palms of your hands and the soles of your feet.

"Dappling" is the method of breaking up the monotonous ashen color of the body and thus breaking up the outline. Using a little water on the finger tips, a little mud, or a little clay, streak and dapple various parts of the body until the outline is broken. You do not want the effect to be tiger-striped or leopard-spotted, but a wide combination of both. It is important to stripe all parts of the body.

"Fuzzing" is the process of ruffing up the outline of the body. This is quite easily accomplished by rolling vigorously in a dirt area similar to the one you intend to hide in. Make sure the dirt and debris are worked through the hair and all stripes and spots are fuzzy in appearance. Now go to the area you have selected.

"Hiding" is the process of stalking carefully into the area, carrying with you any extra debris you need to complete the camouflage process and getting set in your most comfortable position. Once you are by the area you are going to hide in, lay or sit in the most comfortable position, trying to conform to the landscape so that you will not stick out. Beginning with the feet and legs and working upwards, use the armload of debris to further break up your outline and blend with the landscape.

Once settled, relax. Let your breathing become rhythmic, slow, and unrestricted. Roll play an object such as a mound of dirt, a tree stump, a rock, a bush, or a tree. Role play means to really believe that you are that entity. This will also help you blend with the landscape in a spiritual way as well as a physical way. All you have to do then is disappear and let nature work its magic on your soul.

NOTE: Make sure that you have left your hand and arm room to move when an animal passes. There is nothing worse than having a deer or fox pass within inches of your hide and not be able to touch it because of obstructions. This same principle is important when hunting, in that you must leave room to pull the bow or cock the throwing stick.

From The Tracker magazine, 1985, published by the Tracker School.
For more articles from The Tracker magazine, visit the Tracker Trail website