Saturday, December 31, 2011

Duck hunters: Buy this jacket!

One of my favorite "discoveries" as a new hunter was the ghillie suit - I'd had no idea that human beings would actually want to walk around looking like Swamp Thing. It just seemed so ridiculous.

But Hank talked about wanting a ghillie jacket for a while, and two years ago, I bought one for him for Christmas. He didn't get a chance to wear it right away because his Achilles tendon popped and he couldn't even walk for a couple months, much less hunt.

When duck season began last year, though, he started wearing it all the time, and he loved it. From a distance, the jacket's shaggy outline really did make it much harder to see him hiding in cattails and tules. (Usually it's surprisingly easy to spot hunters in the marsh.)

So this year, I asked for this ghillie jacket for Christmas, and Hank obliged. Wednesday was the first chance I got to try it out, and it was amazing.

I wore it in conjunction with a black balaclava I have from my Minnesota distance running days, and though I was sitting in a tule patch that didn't afford much cover, the ducks just did not see me.

Better yet, whenever I was walking around and birds approached, I'd just hunker down over the water and disappear. Several times when I did that, I got the opportunity to stand and shoot, and the birds really didn't get that I was a hunter who was going to shoot them. What I mean is they didn't flare immediately, and I killed two or three birds this way.

It's pretty rare that a single piece of clothing makes such a noticeable difference in your hunt, but this one really did.

In fact, it works so well it makes me wonder why more duck hunters don't wear these. It is nothing but a mesh shell. If it's cold, you can wear it over a jacket. If it's warm, this is the most ventilated camo you could possibly hope to wear.

I was worried that all the flaps of fabric would catch the butt of my gun, but they didn't. Ever.

My only complaint is about the pockets, which are located in the side seams over the hips, as with a normal jacket. Because they're not deep and don't have a zipper, you wouldn't want to put anything important in them - I just used them for empty shells that I picked up while walking around.

And the pockets are hard to find, though I don't think that should be surprising with all those flaps of fabric.

If I were the designer at Cabela's (hey, wait, I've worked with them before - maybe I should mention this to them), I would add a zipped inner breast pocket for things like licenses and car keys. Hell, I know how to sew (a little) - I may just add that myself.

Regardless, I highly recommend this jacket. Mine is the "big game" version, and while I learned just yesterday that there's also a waterfowl ghillie, I think it really doesn't matter which one you use because the flaps largely obscure the camo pattern anyway. I mean, that's the whole point.

© Holly A. Heyser 2011


RachelP. said...

That's so funny, because I have always wondered who in the hell wears those and what they were for. A kid at my daughter's elementary school wore one for halloween. I thought it was the most awesome and elaborate "tree" costume ever.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Same thing happened with a friend of ours - she got one for a Halloween costume and showed it to us thinking we'd get a kick out of it, when in reality, we were thinking, "Hey, that could be useful!"

Military people are very familiar with them. They really work.

Gary Thompson said...

They're like having a mobile duck blind. They also work very well for turkey hunting.

Me said...

been using the head gear for years in pit blinds, works great true break up!

NorCal Cazadora said...

OK, so why don't more people use these? That's the weird thing.

And actually, any hunter who's marginally competent with needle and thread could ghillie-ize almost anything.

Peebs said...

Next big step in the evolution of public lands duck hunting? Won't say as big as the roboduck but could be close. Gary is close a mobile duck blind we'll have to do some testing soon want to see how much back cover we'll need but as you know in late season hunting, most cover is almost gone and that which remains is totally trashed and the ducks avoid like it has the plague. Spent most of day yesterday in the grass and got all of my "good" birds there.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Yeah, I can't wait to get back to free roam with this jacket. But mobile duck blind? Only if I can somehow get a cup-holder incorporated into it ;-)

Peebs said...

We'll still need the patches can't sit for extended amouts of time that low foot went to sleep up north but will for sure get out in grass for the first hour even without jacket. Yesterday was one of the deadest I've seen out there in long timeI came out with a limit but barely and the only reason I did was the grass.

NorCal Cazadora said...

I can sustain the Tebow move for a long time, but it's hard to keep my gun out of the water, and of course I don't have all my snacks out there with me in the grass...

Gretchen Steele said...

Hey Holly - when I click on the read more.. it kicks me off the page :( says I am not authorized to view..

Don't ever use the ghillie for waterfowl hunting.. but use it lots for deer and turkey :) Our waterfowl hunting terrain and conditions are much different than yours - We normally use in ground pits, or wooden above ground blinds, boat blinds, and layout blinds in the fields or hide in the fence row for late season snows. By the time we are in the fence rows stage - it's usually too bitter cold and snowy for a ghillie suit.. but I have used one of those white disposable painter coveralls for snow camo LOL

NorCal Cazadora said...

Weird, I can't replicate the problem.

We hunted pit blinds yesterday where the ghillie was actually pretty important - we were at a refuge where the pits are sunk into mud islands with ZERO cover, so we surrounded the pits with dead tree branches and some (very scratchy, burr-infested) dead plants, and the ghillie hoods rounded out the illusion.

Of course, now I'll be picking burrs out of my ghillie for the rest of the season. Sigh!