So You Think You Know Camouflage?

Sep 6, 2018

2018 is one of the years where I’m going hunting, rather than watching as others get outside to fill their freezers with the most organic type of protein possible: wild game.

In preparation, I’m going through all the poorly-packed, horribly-disorganized hunting gear I thought I’d packed away in a neat-and-orderly fashion. I was badly mistaken. Granted, the gear was washed, lubed, cleaned and such, but it’s a mashup of mixed camo patterns, rather than being organized by region and climate.

Fortunately, the first trip is wing shooting. Not camo-intensive. Since the summer heat’s shown no sign of abatement, I’m more concerned with avoiding snakes and mosquitoes than fall’s normal briers and brambles.

But an upcoming elk hunt has me concerned. Not just that my joints can’t bear the strain, but that I lack the essential gear (and knowledge) to be effective. There will likely be some delivery trucks visiting before I head west.

Camouflage is on my mind because Tuesday morning, I got an eye-opening lesson on effective camouflage. All wildlife watchers know the importance of blending in with your surroundings. It’s a very robust industry segment that focuses exclusively on the idea of making us invisible to our prey.

But you just can’t top nature. That’s the lesson I re-learned Tuesday morning. And one I think bears sharing.

Here’s a series of photos I took of the top of some papyrus plants after I’d thoroughly watered them.

The first shot doesn’t look like anything out of the ordinary, does it?

I didn’t notice anything unusual until after I’d already watered the planter and moved it to give it some more sunlight.

Check out the second photo, it’s a slightly different angle and zoomed in a bit.

Some of you have seen it by now. But look at the third photo (a closeup) and you’ll realize one of nature’s most effective predators is there- and committed to its work -to the point it ignores other distractions - including me.

Yep, a praying mantis (Mantis religiosa- part of the Mantodea order of insects) was sitting in the very top of the papyrus, waiting for an unsuspecting insect to come by.

Despite having been hosed down, and moved around, it never moved -until I brought a finger close enough to either pose a threat or present an opportunity.

And we think we know camouflage? We can all learn from the masters-sometimes without leaving our own yards.

—Jim Shepherd