Some hunters I know sound like girls from my Mom’s generation waiting for the Paris fashion shows. They blow big bucks when the new fall styles come out– tree bark is out . 3D Sticks and mud are in. Goretex? That’s so last year, Man.
I can’t say I was ever poor, but I have had little discretionary income to spend on hunting. My first hunting bow was bought used and I hunted with it for over ten years. I don’t spend a lot on hunting clothes. I still have a lot of clothes to hunt with however. Back at the dawn of my hunting experience, I couldn’t afford a full set of camo. I still don’t own a Goretex anything. What I do own is a few coveralls and a vast array of camo cover-ups and ponchos.
I have a fabric store up at the strip mall that has a small section of camouflage. When I was single, I got a few strange looks. Now I can drag the wife in as cover. I look over the selection for sturdy 100% cotton and buy 2 yards of the stuff. Years ago, I bought an old used sewing machine and I take the fabric home and sew it into a poncho. How do you make a poncho? Try this.
Start with a paper grocery bag. The magic of a poncho is in the hole in the middle. Everyone needs a different hole. Mine is a diamond shaped hole a little more than 6 inches across and a little more than a foot long. It’s narrower than my head, but it stretches out and slips over my noggen easily. The front half is a bit longer than the back half. I went through a few paper bags until I found the hole that worked for me.
Take two yards of camo material. Pin the hole pattern in the middle across and a few inches further forward than half way back to front. Cut out your hole. If you have a machine to sew it up, you’ll want to put a half-inch hem all the way around the outside and around the center hole. If you don’t have access to a machine, buy a pair of pinking shears and use them to make your cuts. The fabric store has them.
When you are stalking or walking to your stand, wear the poncho belted across the front and flowing free out the back. Belted, it won’t catch on much. If you wear a pack, slip the poncho over the pack. In your stand, undo the belt and let the poncho hang. It really breaks up your form. On the ground, you will become an amorphous cammo-covered blob when you disappear under your poncho.
Forget the $500 super quad goretex parka’s. I wear a cheap green freezer coat when it gets too cold. I can wear anything under the poncho and as long as the arms aren’t something too electric. Snowmobile suits are great too.
I use a poncho turkey hunting. It covers my hands nicely, so I can work a box call with impunity. When it rains, I wear a plastic poncho underneath. It keeps my rifle dry in gun season. It keeps the snow off my muzzle loader.
Sometimes I’ve tied the poncho between two trees and peaked through the hole. In a heavily hunted area, I’ve covered a deer carcass with it after tagging to keep it from being snagged by the next guy through.
All total, I have about a dozen ponchos. My Hunter Orange poncho is painful to see in the sunlight, but it gives me maximum visibility while still insuring that I remain a light-grey blob to the deer. Some are tree bark pattern. Some are sticks and leaves. I have one for tall grass. The best one (see the picture above) is a brown and orange and yellow splotchy-looking pattern that cost less than $2 a yard. For some reason it’s fooled more early-season deer than all the new 3-D stuff. I couldn’t figure it out until I used it as a tarp one day to cover my gear while I stalked on the ground in a light drizzle. Coming back in the fog, I absolutely couldn’t see the pile until I was standing on it. The camo pattern had taken on a life of its own as the folds of fabric had created ramdom shadows and bunchings and so forth.