Giving away your age is OK if the younger generation learns something about the past and perhaps picks up a pointer or two to apply to life.
Growing up in the 1950s with the passion to hunt and be successful, it was a treat for Dad to take me to the Army surplus store. That’s where I acquired my hunting outfits; my “camo.” The store offered a variety of recycled products from the armed services, all in a variety of live drab color. Sizes were seldom marked and the olive drab color ranged from fades to dark. Nevertheless, if you found something that fit or came close, you walked out proudly, always wondering about the soldier who wore the garb and the battles he fought. One thing was for certain; your “new camo” would conceal you from the game you hunted.
Grandpa and his buddies would smile and shake their collective heads as you rolled up your sleeves and pant legs of the ill-fitting olive drab attire. They would be dressed in flannel shirts, bib overalls and the ever-present tan, canvas coat. Headgear ranged from an old brimmed felt hat to an earflap style worn by Disney cartoon character Elmer Fudd. Youngsters joked behind their backs. The Jones-style hunting cap (tan in color) was coming into style and waterfowlers of that era wore the traditional black rubber hip boots, many on loan from their buddies at the firehouse. Occasionally, shopping for hunting gear was done from the Sears-Roebuck catalog or the local hardware store, but hand-me-downs or the Army surplus dominated the young hunters’ wardrobe.
Toward the end of the 1950s, some visionary introduced the green/brown camouflage pattern clothing to the hunting world and the craze for camo began. Novice hunters were convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that proper-fitting camo hats, pants, shirts and coats were necessary for success. Grandpa and his pals laughed as they passed the torch to the next generation of warriors.
As we hunted into the later decades of the 20th century, companies like Real-Tree, Mossy Oak and Advantage Max-4, to name a few, have done the marketing and advertising to convince the sporting public that without the proper camo pattern, success is only wishful thinking. My favorite apparel is camo of any pattern or color!
Many of my fraternity brothers have orange patterns for deer and upland game, snow patterns for harsh weather waterfowling and at least five camouflage-designed outfits for the ever-changing colors of autumn waterfowl season.
Camp attire and the accessories have become a trademark of who we are. Some may border on the ridiculous, but that’s OK. Camouflage socks, underwear, sleeping apparel for the ladies, furniture, seat covers for our trucks, bags, and yes, our gun may not be necessary for our concealment, but they give us identity. Only a serious, dedicated hunter will have his mode of transportation covered in his favorite camo pattern. One thing is for certain; when you see that pickup truck or SUV camo-clad, you have a true indication about the owner’s passion. Camo is our favorite color.
Before you rush out to your favorite outdoor supplier, choose a new outfit from the many hunting catalogs or go shopping on the Internet, I’d like to give you my grandpa’s tips for success. Regardless of what you’re wearing, keep your actions to a minimum, head down and be quiet. How many times as a novice hunter was I reminded of his basic tips. How true they remain.
So my friend, when someone asks you what you’d like as a gift for that special occasion, check your hunting closet, note something in camo that you don’t possess, mention your size and hope the buyer can find it.
Camo is my favorite color!
Larry Reid is host of “Outdoors with Larry Reid,” which airs at noon Sundays on WBGZ Radio,
1570 AM/93.4 FM with live streaming.