When out hunting, you are facing animals that have evolved to sense danger. Their sense of scent, sounds, and movement have developed to a very high point. This is why hunters need to be as stealthy as possible if they want to get a close shot at the prey. Bowhunters are the ones that really need to shorten the range between them and the animal as the effective range of the bow is far smaller than the one of a rifle. This is why they often use different tracking and stalking techniques that get them very close to their target. Still, nothing beats the level of camouflage a ghillie suit brings to the table. Hunting with a ghillie suit allows you to stay hidden and get closer than ever to the unsuspecting animal. These suits are also very effective against humans on the battlefield and in games such as paintball and airsoft, for example.
Knowing how to use your ghillie suit properly consists of knowing when exactly to take the suit with you. Even when you have your suit on, there are other elements of your gear/body that should also be taken care of such as the face, boots, spotting scope, weapon, etc. Choosing the suit should also be based on the environment in which you are most often hunting and other factors like the suit’s weight, thread pattern, color composition, and thread density.
For some of the best ghillie suits, head over to my full Guide on the topic!
In this article, I will go through some of the basics of pre-made ghillie suits and give you a few tips and tricks on how to camouflage your whole body and gear so that you blend right in with your surroundings. First, let’s start with the most important part…
How To Use A Ghillie Suit
Using a hunting ghillie suit is a pretty straight forward process, especially when it comes to the models that are being sold as a full ghillie set. These usually consist of a few parts including jacket and pants, as well as a rifle wrap and a carrying bag. Some higher-priced models have hoods to them or even a Boonie hat.
Normally, these suits are worn above your regular hunting clothes. If it is too warm, you might need to put one layer of clothing less. If you are hunting in the snow, for example, you can pack yourself well but never rely on the ghillie to actually do some warming, as they are mostly made out of mesh materials to improve breathability and reduce weight. In cold weather, you might want to look for special ghillie suits that are thicker than usual and provide proper insulation.
Jack’s Tip: Always look for an ultra-light model even if the rest of its characteristics are worse. Nothing is worse than having to carry 10+ pounds on your back all day with the rest of your equipment on a deer hunting day.
To understand where different suits work best, we need to know the types of terrains hunters often hunt into.
Types Of Terrains
There are a few terrains that are essential to the suits made specifically for them. Those are:
- Grass fields (ranging from golden yellow to dark green for jungle hunting)
- Woodlands (dark and light)
- Bush fields (mixed colors)
Of course, each type varies in its color combination depending on the season, so keep that in mind. For every terrain, there is a specific kind of hunting ghillie suit but different models can vary in a few other aspects besides the coloring. Let’s check that out now…
Types Of Suits
A ghillie suit can vary from its competition in terms of:
- Thread Pattern
- Thread Type
- Whether it has threads, strings, or leaves
- Color composition
- Thread density
- Additional features
The thread pattern is important as it is designed to fit different surroundings. Some threads are sewn in rows other are randomly placed on the suit to provide a more natural bushy look.
When it comes to thread types there are a few out there but the best ones are threads made out of polypropylene. They are ultra-light and very silent when in contact with each other.
Strings and leaves are other thread alternatives. I love leaves for autumn hunting and the strings are ideal for grass hunting as they replicate grassy conditions really well. One of the advantages of threads is that they tend to hold additional woodland camouflage you put in between them such as extra leaves, grass or even moss.
Every suit also has a different color composition and thread density. The first refers to the way the colors blend with each other and their patterns (scattered, squares, circles, lines). That also means whether the suit is single-colored or multi-colored. Thread density is very important as it directly relates to the weight of your suit and how easy it is to move around with it. Many beginners wrongfully assume that the denser the suit the better the result will be. It all comes down to the overall combination of all the factors I listed.
Last but not least every model has some additional features that make it stand out. Whether those are pocket cutaways, drawstrings, extra mesh inside layer, trousers buttons or a full front zipper, they are always a welcome addition.
Now that we’ve been through the major types of terrains and suits that you can choose from, it’s time to see which are the most important pros and cons of using a hunting ghillie suit.
Advantages & Disadvantages
- You can get closer than ever to your target without being seen
- There is less risk for you to be noticed when following a trace
- Adds a silent cover to your clothing
- If the suit is too heavy you will get tired of carrying that extra weight
- It can be hard to stay cool and ventilate your body with the suit on
- You will have to undergo some preparations in order to ghillie up all your gear and body
Blending In With Your Surroundings
When hunting or out playing paintball with your friends you will have to take care of the remaining uncovered parts of your body and your gear. Those are usually the boots, your face, your weapon of choice, its scope, the binoculars you are using and other items you are carrying. Anything that will seem out of place poses a risk of giving out your position.
Let’s start with the most obvious part of your body that you will have to cover up.
When it comes to the face there are two types of people – ones that prefer wearing a ghillie hood or a mask and the ones that love using military camo paint sticks on their faces. If paint sticks create issues for your skin, then you have to go with a mask, a hood, or a Boonie hat with a camo veil.
Your Weapon & Scope
Most camo ghillie suit models come with rifle wraps and arrows wraps for your weapons. Those wraps are often stretchable and can cover your rifle’s scope as well. Still, if that isn’t the case you can create additional hunting camouflage for the scope by getting some netting and a few leaves and grass. If you want to go all-in, paint your scope in the color of the rest of your camo hunting gear suit.
Even if you have one of the best scopes for 308 rifles out there it still will be a bad idea to just keep it uncovered or black as it will stick out.
The Spotting Scope And Binoculars
The same rule applies to your spotting scope, binoculars, and any other item you decide to bring with you (backpacks, tripods, etc). Everything should be camouflaged properly. The bag camouflage shouldn’t be too noisy as you will most likely take it off more than a few times during the hunt and you don’t want to give away your position by something so preventable.
One thing that I wanted to pay special attention to is the boots. You have no idea how much do black boots stick out on a yellow grass background and from a dry grass camo ghillie hunting suit.
If you are in the woodlands then it is almost all right but for some reason, people always forget to cover up their boots. Luckily, most hunting ghillie suits come with longer pants that cover everything almost to the ground.
A Few Extra Tips
Learn To Crawl
My advice is to learn how to crawl right from the beginning. The faster you get used to it, the better. Crawling is always better than running, especially when you are maintaining a stealthy low profile. Animals’ eyes detect movement far better than it distinguishes colors from one another. This means that as long as you blend in with your surroundings you can be a few yards away from the animal and it won’t be able to see you. That is, of course, if it doesn’t pick up your scent. Even then it will have a hard time figuring out where exactly you are if you keep still.
One animal that has a sharp sense of scent and movement is the coyote. There are many coyote hunting mistakes people do but when using a ghillie suit the main one would be to not stay flush with the ground. Find the perfect spot and wait there until the coyote is close enough for a clean shot.
The second you move, though, your cover will be immediately blown. This is why crawling on the ground slowly is a bulletproof method of maneuvering closer and closer to your prey.
Stick To Areas Matching Your Ghillie Suit
One other very important lesson to learn is to avoid high contrast areas. Let’s say you have a yellow grass camo ghillie suit on you. Standing on a darker or green surface won’t be the brightest idea as you will stick out a lot. This is why you should always be aware of the background on which you are present to the animal. Choose your path with care and make sure that you blend right in. If you have a ghillie suit that you’ve made most parts of then you can swap some of the decorations when you change terrain types.
This is also kind of valid for my next advice…
Know Your Suit Well
Knowing your ghillie suit is crucial to your operation. Know the sounds it makes, the patterns it has, the surroundings with which it blends the easiest and where are its drawstrings and zippers. When you know all these details you are less likely to make mistakes or lose time when the action is at its peak.
Imitate Your Surroundings
If you are hunting in a bushy area it is always a good idea to simulate your surroundings by adjusting your suit a bit. If there is a lot of moss around or dry leaves, take them and try to stick them to your suit in a tidy manner. After all, you don’t want to be a walking moss dispenser but rather have a similar color and composition as the environment around you. I personally love dry grass as it sticks very easily to a threaded ghillie suit and it doesn’t make too much noise when I move around.
Frequently Asked Questions
What ghillie suits does the military use?
Our military’s ghillie suits are made out of Battle Dress Uniform jackets and pants, otherwise known as BDUs. These suits are also available in a sniper spec which has its front left part bare to make crawling easier.
Can you wash a ghillie suit?
Most ghillie suits can be machine-washed on a gentle program and then air-dried. Still, there are models that must only be hand-washed. To find out more about the washing instructions of your model, see the information put there from the manufacturer.
Hunting with a ghillie suit might be challenging at first due to it being new to you but as time goes on, and as you master the art of doing it, you will notice a significant improvement in your hunting results and your concealment efforts. The better you get at blending in with your surroundings, the more fruitful your hunt will eventually be.