Camouflage has been around for as long as hunters have tried to outwit the hunted. Whether the stalker was a Plains Indian draped in a buffalo hide or is a modern deer-slayer dressed in patchy greens and browns, the object of camouflage has remained the same: to allow the hunter to get as close as possible to his prey.
These days camouflage comes in many forms: waterproof parkas, pants, coveralls, jackets, float coats (jackets with flotation linings), waders, ponchos, hats, boots, gloves, face paint, even an ersatz essence-of-skunk. (For the faint of nostril, pine and apple scents are also available.)
Camouflage is particularly important for bow hunting, in which the weapon's range is limited, and in hunting shy and sharp-eyed quarry—wild turkey, for instance. Lea Talcott, a buyer for Orvis, a hunting and fishing equipment company in Manchester, Vt., takes great care to cover up when hunting turkey. "I wear both face paint and camo gloves," he says. "I even camouflage my gun, because sunlight flashing off a shiny stock will catch a bird's attention. Disguised this way, I've called turkeys to within 10 yards of me." (Unfortunately, not all the turkeys lurking in the woods are birds, so when hunting in a crowded area, it's safer to wear blaze orange.)
Camo clothing comes in two basic colors, green for hunting in the spring or in pinewoods, brown for hunting in the fall and in field or marsh. Wherever (these photos were taken near Ketchum, Idaho), the hoped-for effect on duck and deer is the same: Seeing is believing.
Diane Crist makes like a haystack in a homemade straw poncho. Canoeist Cree Le Favour favors Eddie Bauer's nylon-and-down shirt ($83), while Lane Parrish is partial to a float coat from Orvis ($90).
Nothing reflects badly on bow-hunter Paul Ramlow after he paints his pate and dons a Ranger suit with covered buttons and zipper ($35). Even dogs go camo: Yuli sacks out on an Orvis "dog nest" ($54).
Bill Bishop (above, left) dodges through decoys in a Gore-Tex parka from Eddie Bauer ($190); Jack Hemingway takes to Orvis' down-lined coat ($195) and waders ($80) like, well, a duck to water. Horse sense says that's Kira Sturney under the Eddie Bauer poncho ($48).