Monday, January 30, 2012

Scenes from the Marsh: Charlie's ghillie

Duck season ended here yesterday, and I find myself alternately relieved that I won't be getting up at 3 a.m. several days a week anymore, and sad that I've had to say good-bye to the marsh for the next nine months.

What makes me feel better is replaying some of my favorite scenes from the marsh this season, and one of them was this:

My buddy Charlie
Last season, Hank wore a ghillie jacket on duck hunts and he really liked it, so I asked him to get me one for Christmas during this season. He did, and I found it noticeably improved my concealment in the marsh. This inspired my duck hunting buddy Charlie to get one of his own.

Hank's and my jackets came from Cabela's - you can see them on the left. But Charlie's was something different altogether. Instead of flaps of gauzy nylon camouflage fabric, Charlie's jacket is covered with golden brown strings - which, as you can see, blend in nicely with the tule patches where we hide.

His ghillie's hood forms a scraggly mane, and when you see it, how can you help but think of the Lion King with a shotgun and a cigarette?

OK, let's skip over the fact that Charlie will never allow me to photograph him again. Let's just talk about the conversation we had about his ghillie as we walked through the water back to the parking lot as the sun was setting on the marsh yesterday.

I can't remember exactly how it came up, but Charlie was saying that the jacket also came with pants and a gun cover as well.

"Really? I said. "What kind of hunting is it for?"

I'd heard of turkey hunters going to such extremes, but usually there's more green in turkey hunting ghillies.

"It's for killing humans," Charlie said. "It's a sniper suit."


But, hey, whatever works!

Note to Safety Freaks: Charlie ain't stupid: He took a lighter to this jacket to test its flammability before lighting up a smoke while wearing it. It passed the test.

© Holly A. Heyser 2012


Mike Dwyer said...

Our season ended yesterday as well. I took a big nap yesterday afternoon after coming home and thought I was dreaming about geese. I then woke-up and realized about 300 birds were coming over the house to land in the cornfield across the street. That was weird...

Is it wrong that I actually enjoyed the 3 hours it took to put away all of my gear last night? It was sort of cathartic. I'm already thinking about ammo selection for next season and wondering how turkey season will be this spring.

We are sick, sick people.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Not wrong at all - hunting, more than anything else - has made me appreciate the meaning of seasons. The season for duck hunting is over; now the season for yardwork and housework is back - and just in time, because the house and yard really needs work.

Mike Dwyer said...

Amen to that. Seed catalogs started ariving last week and our house is in some serious need of TLC. The honey-do list I had knocked out back in October is now full again.

And I'm actually looking forward to it.

NorCal Cazadora said...

LOL, I haven't even raked leaves, and they finished dropping, uh, a long time ago.

Thank God our neighborhood tolerates our priorities - we'd never make it under the tyranny of a neighborhood association.

Josh said...

Okay, the camo + aviator glasses + smokes scream North African Dictator.

I love ghillies, and have always wanted to make my own. His looks awesome.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Yeah, Charlie's suit is really spectacular. On the last Saturday of the season, I found the limits of my jacket: I was tebowing in dry, brown nutgrass, and birds spotted me at about 50 yards out. Charlie's jacket, though, is the EXACT right color and texture for sitting in the nut grass.

While I don't know if I could replicate his jacket, I can tell you it'd be pretty simple to replicate ours - it's just strips of fringed camo mesh - super light so the wind catches them and you just look like something with leaves blowing in the wind.

The tricky part would be attaching them without weakening any waterproof properties on your existing jacket. Cloth glue might work.

etfremd said...

Nice! But- movement is the #1 camouflage- or should I say lack of movement...sitting still and only moving your eyeballs is best- hard to do for most...and can only be done with a partner who looks in your blind spot as you can tell what the ducks are doing by his eyes and slight facial expression...But those jackets look cool- great for filming the ducks with...

NorCal Cazadora said...

I watch my hunting partners' eyes all the time - and listen to determine the direction they're calling in. But these ghillies - even Hank's and mine - really do buy you a noticeable amount of extra time before the birds make you. I'll have an awesome example of that in my next "Scenes from the Marsh" post.

That said, if you're moving around a lot and staring up in the sky, no amount of ghillie will make up for it.

Mike Dwyer said...


Do you always wear face paint? I switched to paint from a mask a couple of years ago and I feel like it actually gives me more freedom to move around. I couldn't imagine going back.

NorCal Cazadora said...

I have in the past, and I always carry it with me in the field. But I've found wearing a balaclava to be a little easier: It doesn't clog my pores, it keeps me warmer and it does slightly muffle the sound of the gunshot.

I might actually do a hybrid next season, adding some stripes to my face in the places not covered by the balaclava (around the eyes).

Mike Dwyer said...

Ah - problems I don't have. I never get cold, my pores are pristine and gun noise doesn't seem to bother my hearing.

It also helps that my face is 50% beard so I don't have to use nearly as much paint.

Plus it also makes me feel like an honorary member of the Duck Commander crew.

NorCal Cazadora said...

LOL, thanks for acknowledging your gender advantages! Stubble is awesome camo, and the ability to ignore or not even feel cold is huge. Sigh.

Patti Skorupa said...

Ghillie suits. Not just for hunting anymore! -

Kisha Kitchens said...

That was some Christmas gift! My husband also got himself a ghillie jacket for his hunting. At first, he was a little uncomfortable wearing this. But once he realized the effective concealment it provided, he became amicable to wearing one.

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