When times get bad, and you feel unprotected and exposed, you will want to have camouflage to keep you and your family safe. For some people that may mean just a simple set of BDUs or even just the first camo clothing you see at Walmart. However, that may not be enough. There is a lot more to camouflage and concealment than just these.
Get proper camouflage: you will want some proper mil spec BDUs. These are sturdy and will come in handy for making ghillie suits, holding extra supplies, and recognizing your fellow group members. It is not necessary to get matching camo patterns for your family, but it helps. Be careful of going “Camo Crazy” where you only get camo clothes–even underwear.
Make Your Ghillie Suits
If you get good at concealment, a ghillie suit helps a lot. They take a notoriously long time to make. You may buy ghillie suits, but they will either be very expensive (several hundred USDs) or of low quality. I recommend making your own. You will need a sewing machine or some very strong glue and BDUs (or flat earth tone garments) in a size slightly bigger than you. Including a boonie hat. Even better is to start with a set of oversize military surplus olive drab overalls. They hold on to you very well and in my opinion, are more comfortable. You will also need some tough fish netting or similar material. Try to get the netting holes more than 1 cm in diameter. Find a source for a lot of jute thread or burlap that is in the same tone of your local environment. You may end up using many rolls or just a few depending on how thick you want your jute. Sew or glue on the netting to the BDUs; this will take a long time, but don’t worry if the netting is messy or not straight. Then tie on the jute thread, you should have a large brownish, greenish lump now. Then for a final touch, if you want, drag it around in the dirt a bit. (Be careful not to damage it too much). It will be hot, heavy, and smelly. But it may save your life.
Thusfar, you haven’t really done anything with your boonie hat. Turning a boonie hat into a a ghillie hood takes a different approach. There are several ways to make the jute hang down to your neck. You can just use long threads, or you can sew/glue on netting leaving a lot hanging down to your neck. The second approach is better because you will have more even strands of jute and it won’t stand out near your neck. The difference is very small, however. You will want a gap in the ghillie material at your face, so that you can see.
You may think: “now I can just lay down and no one will see me!” Wrong! You will still be seen, but you are making progress. The best way to find out how to use your ghillie suit is to look at your property for around 15-30 minutes, just walking in it and looking. Eventually, you will see how the bushes are formed, how the trees are shaped. You want to be able to know how nature makes itself look, and then replicate it. A great example is to be in a field of goldenrod. Pick a few stems and stick them in your ghillie suit. Lay down and have someone look at you. Most likely they will be at odd angles or broken and bent. Try to stick more in, straighten the crooked ones. This is called natural foliage. You want about a 60/40 natural/man-made ratio on your ghillie suit. Remember, natural objects always look natural and man-made objects always look man-made. You will need to practice with one or more family members taking turns hiding and seeking. This is great fun and educational for your kids.
Movement Negates Camouflage
The human eye is naturally drawn to movement. How many times have you seen a deer only after it moves? Staying still is hard to achieve. When you are sitting still in a bog, waiting for the bad guys to pass buy, having thirty mosquitoes attack you and getting soaked to the skin while sweating is not fun. It can be hard to get yourself to sit still. Thoughts will pop into your head like: Did I remember to feed the dog? Or Did I send that E-Mail to my boss? These must be ignored, otherwise you will fidget and you will be seen.
Keeping some tips in your head: It is necessary to keep vital information in your head when you are under pressure. You will need to be able to remember things. Try to keep some of these important facts. People show up as dark spots in night, movement is easier to spot than color, straight objects appear closer than curved ones. These facts can be useful.
Washing a Ghillie
Ghillie suits should NOT be washed with standard detergent. I recommend that you hose it down if you have to, or use a very special hunting detergent. Otherwise the ghillie suit will give you away to animals, and will show up very bright with a night vision scope.
Use discretion. The sight of a ghillie suit screams, “Prepper!” when they are worn. If the situation isn’t dire, you won’t need the suit, and most likely you will just be set out as a target, instead of hiding yourself. If you are going to be seen at all, then make sure you don’t look like a survivalist, but also not an easy victim.
Don’t use the ghillie suit very often — except when and where it is apropos. This may seem weird because you have just spent months making this and practicing with it. But as I’ve stated, your ghillie suit is hot, heavy, and uncomfortable. Only use it when practical. I also want to point out that it they are very hard to run in.
You will want to carry a repair and add-on kit with your suit. Use something small like an Altiods tin or a soap box. You should have a couple rolls of non-reflective fishing line or strong thread to tie on natural camouflage. If you want to sew on your natural material, you should bring a needle too (It will be very hard to thread a needle when you need concealment and are near the bad guys). If you are carrying a backpack and/or web gear, you should have this tin in there. If you have a pouch for face paint/identifying sashes/drab duct tape, put this tin in there. If you want, you can also carry some pre-cut jute thread for repairs. (They generally aren’t major enough to need to do in the field, however.)
‘It can help to learn from mistakes, even other people’s. One thing I noticed about my suit is that I tied on the jute a little too thick; if your netting holes are less than 3/4s inch I would recommend only doing every other row to save time and reduce weight, unless your jute is too thin for that. Try to put a little more jute on the back of the suit because you will most likely be laying down, and that’s where you will need the most of it. If you don’t buy all your jute at once, then make sure you blend the jute together. I purchased several different jutes, several different times. I had the arms in a dull brown and the back in a forest mix. Then at the shoulder, I mixed both to stop the contrast. It doesn’t need to look good, it needs to look real.
Other Items to Camouflage
Guns are somewhat easier to camouflage. All you need is some jute and netting. Attach the netting to the gun; you can tie it on via sling mounts, dangle it on (if you aren’t going to move with it much) or get a shotgun shell holster (or similar) and sew on the netting to that. Then either tape or attach in your preferred way another piece of cloth on the barrel and sew the netting to that. I strongly recommend just dangling it, because the other two are clunky and hard to get along with when you don’t need camo on your gun. The only reason you will want to break up your outline is if you are going to be very still. So that makes dangling it much more preferred.
JWR Adds: It is crucial to make sure that your camouflaging material does not bind your gun’s action, interfere with loading, or block your sighting plane. It is also important to tone down blued or stainless steel rifles and shotguns before applying any bulky ghillie material. Otherwise, the surfaces beneath the ghillie will reflect, when struck by sunlight. To accomplish this, just buy several inexpensive rolls of removable rifle camouflaging tape. Two rolls per gun is usually sufficient, unless you also want to camo wrap your magazines–then plan on three rolls per gun.
(To be concluded tomorrow, in Part 2.)