Friday, September 30, 2011
For I was looking forward to the weekend. You've met IND blogger Dave L. (Scout26) on here and if you read his blog, you know this week has been pure hell on the cancer front. But at least there is a bright spot, for a short time back Dave mentioned Symphony tickets. And someone to go with (but "it's not a date" he said!) Hmmm. I bet he knows some IND bloggers of the female persuasion who would be proud to be his "non date" to the Indiana symphony orchestra Saturday night. OK, it's not the opera, but it's close.
So off we go! The other gals in our group had plans but Midwest Chick and I are going to make it; one for each arm, a blond, and a redhead. She's coming down for the weekend, the men we keep company with, just chuckling in the wake of our female preparations for the event.
But what to wear! I haven't bought a dress in 4 years. My " fashion designer" is more Sgt. Friday than Donna Karan, and my off duty wear is pretty much Irish sweaters, T shirts, the occasional black button down shirt and jeans.
So I braved a mall and bought a dress tonight after work, a black dress of soft, silky material. I need to. Dave's one of the IND bloggers, they're like family. Though both his kidneys recently went tango uniform from everything, he's got a heart as big as this state. So I got a real girly dress.
It's cut low, with a defined waist and a slit up the side to show just a bit of leg. Being the classical curvy build, not a bag of antlers, this looked really awesome on. With the right accessories, including sheer, silky hosiery (NOT pantyhose) and a handcrafted necklace, I'm set. On one arm, for our friend, a lady in red, on the other a lady in black.
Midwest Chick will be gorgeous as always. Me, I'm going for "non pitchforkable." :-)
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
As my regular readers and friends know, I travel a lot in my work. Sometimes I stay in places where I can go out and explore, and sometimes I'm in cities and countries where I can go out and about, but only unarmed. For such places, I stay in after dark, not spending my money at local businesses, hesitant to venture out as a female alone, after sunset in an unfamiliar area, armed only with a pack of breath mints.
Such evening aren't always so bad. I'll perhaps have a simple dinner of cheese, crackers, an apple and a glass of wine. Then later, with tea and crime scene yellow jammies, I'll write a couple of posts to save up for days when I'm too busy for thoughts outside the tape.
There was an evening like that not long ago, when settling in and unpacking I found a surprise. Although some of the crackers I packed in my computer bag were crumbs, in the bottom, unharmed, was a small bowl made from the shell of a moon snail. It's delicate, yet it survived the flight. I'd forgotten it was in there, placed when I recently moved and found it after the boxes were already packed.
On my desk are the shells of moon snails, this one of which was cut in half to form a dish. The Greek philosopher Aristotle, while still a young man, first scientifically chronicled this strange little mollusk when he came upon it little during a 2-year sojourn on the island of Lesbos. In classifying this tiny creature, he wrote in De Partibus Animilium, "In all of nature there is something of the marvelous, even the tiny, legless sea urchin."
I agree with Aristotle in this, for in examining the shell, the empty remnant of this ungainly and indelicate creature. There is surprising power and beauty in such small things. I see a delicate brush of blue sky, grayish tones that bleed into fragile whites. If I was in the mood to paint, especially if I was painting water, I'd capture it with items flung down by its force. Alone on a wind swept landscape, I'd reference my subjects with pieces of wood, position them in delicate frames of dying leaves. Here, held captive as well by of those who have left, in my minds eye I paint evidence of those departures . . . prints in the sand, ghost feet of little creatures, searching, the rushing feet of playful lovers, the footprints dissipating with the surge of water. There, seen at the waters edge, the soft clawed paths of a predator looking for prey, following the single footprints of a lone woman who followed the wandering path a moon snail might have left behind.
Strength is not always in a form that is familiar. Beauty is composed of more than you think. Both are built of more than meets the eye. It has as much to do with strength inward as strength outward. Though what we see before us holds allure, still in the evidence of what has been lost, is even greater beauty, greater courage. In even the smallest of things. In even those small remembrances of that which has gone, is the delicate moon snail's whorls of light and gray, the colors of the heavens. Tints of purity and substance. A strength that survived security screening, being stuffed into a too small space aloft and 4 hours of technical meetings. Small, strong colors to be captured while I continue on my own meandering journey.
There is beauty without strength, but there is seldom strength without its own beauty, a resolution of being that pervades the air with the scent and echo of the force of a life. As the invisible cloak of my duty slips from my form and I sit down in the chair by the window I see it. Not simply a city where I can not walk in safety under the moon, but my reflection in the glass, water streaming down, a city's tears for the defenseless.
Strength is not always where you expect it. Sometimes even in a city you can see it, in the eyes of a woman looking out at the night sky, unarmed but not willing to give up the fight. Look past the delicacy and the fragile form, there you will see it, the purity of will, the strength that will surprise you.
Monday, September 26, 2011
I'm back from my little jaunt (sorry, no pictures as the camera had a dead battery and I'd tell you who I was with but then I'd have to kill you). Suffice to say a good time was had by all, with home crafted beer, Italian food, and a dessert involving homemade caramel cream sauce.
I was able to take a firearm with me for the solitary drive. I have a concealed carry permit for Ohio since it's recognized in many states, which has come in handy, since Indiana's is not. The last time I drove through the state to visit friends who live there, you couldn't carry at a highway rest stop, so I don't stop there. Face it, that "call police, emergency" blue light thing in the rest stops that flashes if I get to it before someone robs or rape mes, is as scary to most criminals as K-Marts blue light special.
Face it, in the wee hours, on a deserted highway 20 miles or more from the nearest cop, the criminal will be having a cigarette 10 miles away by the time armed help arrives. So instead of highway rest stops, I get coffee and a bathroom break at restaurants that aren't "gun free" for law abiding citizens. It's a comforting feeling, especially as a female traveling alone, getting back in my truck with my McCoffee and my Mc1911.
As I waved goodbye and headed out of the drive for the open highway back to Indiana, I was thinking about something else Mr. Roosevelt said, about "speaking softly and carrying a big stick".
I do carry a stick, a tool like many others I own. However this one is forged from the steel of eternal vigilance. - Brigid
Saturday, September 24, 2011
I spent the first 20 or so years of my life in the West among cowboys and lumberjacks (and yes, I DO know all the words to the lumberjack song). But after that I ended up living in the South. That was something I hadn't planned on, for quite young, I married a Canadian pilot, expecting to continue the Western life, playing with airplanes and making a home in the mountains. But fate intervened, with those dreams going down in flames and I somehow ended up remarried and living in the South, on 40 acres with cows, a horse I named Elmer, and a couple of black labs.
The blending of the background of my acquired language patterns was a bit rough ("would y'all like seconds, aye") but I soon found my niche, mostly through my cooking. For just as Southern women know their elegant gentlemen:
Men in uniform
Men in tuxedos
They also know the three deadly sins.
Having an unkempt home
Having bad manners
Cooking bad food
But even after 10 years there, I never quite became a Southern gal. I never could get the exact GPS coordinates of "yonder" and didn't get a handle on exactly how much catfish, peas and beans made up a "mess of". They even tried dragging me off to a "beauty salon" ("I thought you said Saloon!!") and forcing me into big hair to have a portrait taken.
Still, although I picked up a slight accent over time, I was a "Northerner", favoring a six shooter and going west to play weekend warrior for my employer. I didn't do my nails, and after "BigHairGate" I got my hair done where I was based. Plus, I never could sit all the way through that classic Southern Chick Flick "Steel Magnolias". There's just not any good action in it. Maybe if I rewrote the script.
Shelby: Truvy, you know what you need in here? You need a radio, takes the pressure off of everyone feeling they have to talk so much.
Truvy: I had one once, but we took it out back to blow it up with some with C4. (KABOOM!!!) OK, time's up, time to take those perm rods out.
That's why I don't get to write scripts.
But the cooking skills and recipes I gained down south are some I treasure. Many of the dishes I'd never had growing up. Grits, Frito chili pie, biscuits and gravy, sweet potato pie and the growing lust for a small piece of fried dough known as the Beignet - which, in Home on the Range speak, is "happiness squared." I had it for the first time on a trip to Louisiana, and I never looked at a plain old donut in the same way again.
The word beignet (pronounced beyn-YAY) comes from the early Celtic word bigne meaning "to raise." In French it means "fried dough". They are a distinct New Orleans speciality, a fried, sweet dough, often cooked in cottonseed oil and usually dusted with powdered sugar.
They're sort of the early ancestor of the raised donut and when you hear people in New Orleans say "Goin' fo' coffee an'doughnuts", what they really mean is that they're going out for coffee and a little plate of beignets.
The coffee traditionally paired with them is café au lait. In New Orleans, that is strong dark roast coffee and chicory, served with equal part hot milk. Chicory was originally added to the coffee to stretch short supplies, but it was found to create a richer, smooth brew that is good on its own and works wonderfully with the milk.
There's only a couple of bakeries around Indiana that have them, but as they are best freshly made, hot with a soft, tender middle, why not make your own (recipe in the comments for now).
They're a perfect pairing with that morning cup of coffee before a Steel Plate Shoot to give you a little energy. Because this "almost Southern gal" does know the fourth deadly sin.
A really bad grouping.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
LOS ANGELES: A bus-size, 6.5-tonne, 20-year-old NASA climate satellite is falling out of orbit and likely to hit Earth some time today. However, it is impossible to say where.
The chances are slim that anyone will see any of the 26 assorted pieces of the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite that are expected to survive re-entry into the atmosphere. The chances that someone, somewhere on the planet, will be hit by one of those chunks are 1 in 3200."
I'm home again and I think it's safe for all of us to get out for a walk (no Barkley, you can't wear a tinfoil hat). Cheers!
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
It's your first time shooting a large caliber handgun. The gun is not that large, you could conceal it with the right clothing, yet the bullet seems immense in your hand after the .22. Firing it for the first time is not what you expected, it's more and it's less, and you exert every square inch of pressure on to the floor that your feet can manage, locking hands and arms tight. You could hear it fire though even good ear protection; the explosion of sound, and the smell, the room buzzing as the bullet cleaves the darkness of the low lit range.
It's a sound you were oblivious to for years, and from now on, when you hear one from a distance, or a range stall one or two down from where you stand, you will look with a smile, to see what it was they are holding.
In just small moments of your life, things change, in a flash of light dancing with movement. A change of a way of thinking, a change of need, in a perfume of lead and powder that kisses your hair, creating in your mind the unbroken diminishing cessation of fear.
For in that one shot, with the confidence it brought, I knew. With this weapon, and practice, I can walk freely, a woman unbound by convention or unseated fear. I can hold my head up high, aware of my surroundings, walking with that purpose that shows I am not afraid of you any longer. Too many victims, too many women afraid, nothing left but soft murmuring bones and deep sighs like wind. Brave women, yet in the end, unarmed, their fight so insubstantial against mass and anger that we can not distinguish it from the bone colored earth that is all that remains or their final moments.
One minute a young girl was jogging, music in her ears, clothing scant in the hot weather and concealing little, not form, not fear, not fearlessness. She is the age of the innocent, with that bubbling naive impatience of youth, the blending of childlike trust that seems to protect without reason, but rather, robustly inhibits the skills she needs to survive. It won't happen to me, this is a good neighborhood. I'm in good physical shape. I've heard them all from victims. Those still alive to talk.
It was a beautiful night, the sense of peace and quiet, the night breeze building steadily, bringing with it the damp familiar breath of water. She was running, there alone along the river, which she now saw, for the last time, as she rounded a small curve, the path reaching off into the twilight that was advancing fast. She'd meant to get home before now but she had stopped to readjust her headset, slipping from the sweat on her brow, stopped to just enjoy being young and carefree.
From the trees a shadow, watching, stalking, creeping forward, driving shadows behind as he advances. In a moment, the attack unheard by anyone by the cold blooded, she was taken, pulled into the darkness by the dark thief, who wants that childlike innocence flowing like water through his hands, until it too disappears into the dark soil.
She doesn't come home that night. We read it in the paper, we hope and we cry along with the family. Strangers, yet, parents ourselves, we are connected by a web that binds us all together. It happens much too often. Monthly, sometimes weekly, a young woman taken, child, mother, daughter wife. Those that seek closure to such crimes do what they can, walking into the family home with no answers, only determination, looking up the stairwell that goes to a room now empty, the echoes of a child's feet laying on the steps like the dust of a generation that will never be.
We hold our own children close and we pray that those that prey on the gentle meet their own demise in a smear of hard red, for it is not a forgiving God we want for such monsters, but the Jehovah of might and justice.
I won't be one of those women. Nor will my daughter. Not if I can help it.
Years later, the sound of the same type of shot echoes in the air, darkness blends behind it as if its passing were only a thought. But the muscle memory holds, and I gently squeeze again, an expenditure of breath and muscle that in this moment sounds only like innocence protected. The discharge of the weapon is more than power and noise. It's an inarguable truth, like something I view under a microscope now, seen clearly, supporting the truths that I learned the hard way.
Yes, I do this for protection, but I also do it for other reasons. It's about skill, it's about challenging myself, it's about self awareness, purpose and the sheer affirmation of putting an exploding dot exactly where I want it to go, which is dead center in the forehead of a paper bad guy, holding a female hostage.
Carrying a weapon. It's not about dying. It's about living.
From two stalls down a small head looks around, a girl in her teens, shooting .22 with her LEO Dad, whom I know. She hears and sees my firearm, looks at me, and then at her Dad with a shy smile. Do you think I'm ready to try that? she asks.
I motion for them to come on over after ensuring the chamber is clear and the muzzle pointed away. Young lady, you are more ready than you know.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
You never know when you'll be asked to bring a tasty dish to a gathering. With a few simple ingredients, which many of us have on hand anyway, this is a recipe that will have them reloading at any potluck or family get together.
It's not at all photogenic, but outside of peeling the potatoes, it's quite easy to make and is always one of the first dishes emptied. This dish has survived the scrutiny of Lutheran Basement Church Women (what, no peas?) on my Mom's side and the Irish side of the family (potatoes!)
Brigid's Best Potatoes
3 and 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled or not, cut into 1/8 inch thick slices
1 and 1/2 teaspoons dried dill
small sprig fresh basil, chopped roughly in small pieces
Mix together: 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon white pepper, and a pinch of Penzey's garlic powder (or your favorite brand)
3 cups grated Gruyere cheese (about 10 ounces whole cheese)
1 and 1/3 cups whipping cream
1 and 1/3 cups chicken stock (I use homemade which I make and freeze but you can use chicken broth)
1/4 cup Dijon and white wine mustard (the Grey Poupon brand is quite good for the price)
Heat oven to 400 F. Butter a 2-3 quart shallow baking dish. Overlap 1/3 of the potatoes in dish, sprinkle lightly with 1/3 of the salt/pepper/garlic mixture, sprinkle with 1/2 tsp dill and 1 cup cheese.
Repeat layering twice, using the rest of the potatoes, divided, 1/2 t. dill and 1 cup of cheese for each layer, sprinkling with the remaining salt/pepper/garlic mixture.
Lightly whisk the cream, chicken stock and mustard in bowl. Stir in chopped basil and pour over the potatoes.
Bake until the top is crusty and starting to brown and the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.
400 degrees for 1 hour, or 325 for 2 hours.
Monday, September 19, 2011
When I wrote the post about the Home on the Range Man, I got more comments on it than about anything I'd written at that point. But several have asked about being a Home on the Range Woman. I had written a short piece about that a while back but thought about it again when I was in a grocery and spotted one of those woman's magazines, You know the ones I'm talking about, where on the cover is some anorexic airhead showing enough skin to make a hooker blush, too much makeup and touting all kinds of articles on how to trap a man by being something other than your true self, and once you have done so, how to CHANGE him so he's some wimpy, henpecked version of the original.
I can "put on my face" in the time it takes to apply tinted sunscreen, cherry flavored lip gloss and a little mascara, and I will likely never go out in public wearing some outfit that costs $500. But it's more than that that makes me a a Home on the Range Woman, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
So with that, how to you know if are a HOTR woman?
1. Any salesman that ventures to your place while the garage is open can't help but notice the man sized target with 50 holes in the chest, head and groin area. For some reason, you don't get many sales calls any more.
2. The day after Christmas you go to the gun range just to see everyone's new toys.
3. You don't think camping involves a hairdryer or a portable TV.
4. You know the value of a dollar because you work hard to earn your own dollars.
5. You don't force your beliefs on others. If you don't want a gun, you don't buy one; you don't demand laws so that NO law abiding citizen can have one.
6. You'd rather watch Mythbusters or Top Gear than Dancing with the Stars.
7. Your dog has more emergency rations than 90% of the U.S. population.
8. Your property is more secure than Area 51.
9. You can fix a toilet, change the oil in your vehicle and put dinner on the table for a crowd without asking for help. If you find a spider the size of a Buick in the bathroom you will, however, immediately holler for backup.
10. You know that if you believe the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, you need a geography lesson, but a good pecan pie never hurts.
11. The checker at the local home improvement store knows you by name.
12. The local deli saves up their 5 gallon buckets for you.
13. "Girls Day Out" involves lead residue.
14. You've used a Gerber tool to cut a steak at a fine dining establishment.
15. If the power fails in the local movie theater you can show yourself out with your mini mag.
16. The books on your coffee table include two reloading manuals and a a zombie survival guide.
17. Your knife collection has its own footlocker.
18. You've laughed til it hurt through a Steven Seagal movie and found out afterward that it wasn't a comedy.
19, You avoid opening day of the stores after a holiday, but will journey for hundreds of miles to be at the start of an adventure.
21. Not only can you recognize the sound of a generator from a half mile away, but you also know the brand, horsepower and the kilowatts per hour that it is putting out.
22. You consider reloading equipment as "decorative furnishings".
23. If you need something, be it food, a car or health care, you go shopping for it, or choose a job that provides a means for it. You don't demand that the government pay for it with your neighbors hard earned money.
24. You refuse to place the word "person" after mail, fire, congress, etc., and instead still use "man". You look at some female Congress members and you could definitely think of another word for them, but it's NOT congressperson. That just sounds silly.
25. When you come up against something tough you don't think "who can do this instead of me", you think "how can I handle this".
26. You've shot and field dressed your own dinner more than once.
27. You don't know anyone that voted for Clinton.
28. If you see something that is a threat to you, you think about how to defeat it. You don't plan on how to surrender gracefully while still looking good.
29. People don't come to your house for "tofu croquettes".
30. As a woman, you realize that for some silly reason you are still considered a "minority". As such, you see yourself as someone capable through your own efforts, NOT as a victim in need of government protection, special laws, and favored hiring practices. You can't legislate respect, you must earn it.
31. You can stand on your own, but if you are blessed, there is a day you can look up into the eyes of one like yourself. Eyes the color of a winter morning, holding all the power and magic of the sky. In those eyes you will see the strong spirit of someone who still believes. Someone who still holds on to the hopes and the faith of past generations, when hard work meant something and craftsmanship was its own value, someone who believes that character counts and actions speak louder than promises. Someone that still dreams.
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Before I had my first piece published in a magazine, I got a couple of rejections. I'm a scientist by education, not a writer, it's just the way I relax and work through things. But I thought it was as good as some of the stuff I've read out there, at least with a good editor, so I went ahead and tried. One well known outdoor magazine said my work was really, really good but "too philosophical" for them. A woman editor at another publication that had a mostly male demographic suggested I perhaps write for a fashion magazine if I wanted a wider audience.
Oh yes, fashion is MY middle name.
The best outing I've had in ages with a handsome male, I wore a ballcap. I own one dress, the cobalt blue screen of death number and the last time I wore a ball gown was some Presidential Inagural Ball thingy I got invited to. My house is decorated in "Outdoor Life" and I have more guns than shoes, so I am NOT the person to go to for fashion advice and I'm not sure how I'd write about it.
"She had been waiting, knowing her target would come, moving though the trees with certitude. She holds her gun in solemn readiness, waiting just for the perfect moment. There, between an oak and a the ditch line, was the buck. She drew in her breath, bringing up her bright and shining weapon, which coordinated perfectly with her caban coat, in quilted napa leather so soft and weightless it practically floated and her Mongolian Tapestry boots.
What was that? She looked through her chic but dark shades of Persol PO 2720S Sunglasses. The buck was almost into view, moving quietly as if simply formed out of still air. The muscle memory in her is poised to call him to her, as her finger moves towards the trigger, its touch but a final kiss.
But she hesitated, distracted by a sound above, removing her finger from the trigger guard, the Chanel lambswool glove a perfect match to her hunting ensemble. There! Overhead. A formation on the wing, the honking just saying "Canadian Goose season opened yesterday in the South Zone". It would be a perfect shot. She is torn, undecided. Should she bag the buck that's coming into range or something in genuine 100% goose down? What's a girl to do?"
I don't think so. I'll stick with what I like, even if its appeal is lost to the masses.
- Love, Brigid
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Today's Home on the Range "home weapon" is an Interarms Mauser in .300 Winchester Magnum. A traditional Mauser model 98 action with a sporter weight barrel, mounted in a Bell and Carlson stock. Pillar bedded for stability, and sporting a decent recoil pad to soak up some of the kick. It's trigger is a Timney Sportsman set at 2.5 lbs. The 6x straight power scope is mounted in Leopold steel rings on a Leupold one piece solid base. The bolt has been lapped in, and the muzzle re-crowned.
The .300 Win Mag is a cartridge for large game hunting and long range shooting.
Oh yes, and by large, I don't mean a six point buck. (it's the third one from the left in the photo).
You'll see it in long-range benchrest competition and it's been adopted by Law Enforcement Marksman and by a few specific branches of the US Military for use by their snipers. Maximum effective range is generally accepted to be 1210 yards (1097 m) with ammunition incorporating low-drag projectiles. Sub 1 minute-of-angle (MOA) accuracy out to 1000 yards (914 m) is not unusual in precision-built rifles firing match-grade ammunition. Velocity with a 180-grain projectile at max powder charge and 24" barrel is 2975 ft/s ±25 ft/s (907m/s ±7.6m/s).
But for some basic "meat hunting", the rifle will place most loads into 1.5" at 100 yards, making it an easy 300 yard big game rifle.
Obviously, if you're not having some marksmen training fun and you're hunting out to 300 yards you best be someplace way out in the wild, where you and Simba are pretty much all that's out there. It goes without saying that shooting in more hunted areas, you need to keep things close in for safety and as always, identify your target. Unless I'm on target and I know EXACTLY what my target is, my finger isn't near the trigger. That's just common sense whether you're shooting a paper groundhog, the really, really bad guy or a Bull Moose.
Recoil from the .300 Win Mag is high, much higher than the .30-06 Springfield. Remington has made low-recoil rounds called "Managed-Recoil" available, that kick less and provide performance similar to the .300 Savage. But I like a little kick with my coffee, so the recoil pad works for me and I'll stick with the .300 Win Mag.
It's not a pretty gun. It's plain, utilitarian, and tough as nails. It's a meat gun, built to be hunted with and not pampered. Yet, like other guns in this class, it's not the looks that you'll remember but the adventures it takes you to. Bringing you back to nights around the campfire, stories told in sharp intakes of breath, tales of thundering hooves and the snort of something dark and primordial bearing down on you and your trusty weapon.
I can't use it for hunting in my state but it does see some uses elsewhere, like a trip to the wild, stalking the rogue Yukon Maple-Bacon Quiche (recipe coming up in the comments). The original recipe is a Canadian one, written in French. In translation I might have accidentally added some more bacon.
Oven lighting is not the best but you get the idea. This is not a wimpy quiche. The pastry is a "Pate brisee", another term for pie crust but made with chilled butter instead of shortening. It's flaky and buttery and comes together in a minute using a food processor. Cooked in a springform pan (think cheesecake) instead of a pie pan, the sides are deep, giving the end result a more rugged look, and offering a much higher filling to crust ratio. Heavy recoil makes you hungry. This quiche isn't a girly-girl quiche, small and delicate. This quiche weighs more than an ammo can. There's a quarter cup of pure maple syrup in it, and the flavor really comes through, the sweetness working nicely with the salty bacon and sauteed caramelised onion. My friend Phlegmfatale tried the recipe and pronounced it "fabulous" (and she is a women of incredible taste in all things, food, firearms, fashion and fellas).
I personally love any quiche with bacon on it, but the recipe here is truly special.I don't know about the hunters and snipers, but I'd definitely come out of the woods to have another large slice of this with coffee.
Monday, September 12, 2011
Camouflage is a method of crypsis (hiding). It allows an otherwise visible organism or object to remain unnoticed, by blending with its environment. Examples include a tiger's stripes, the battledress of a modern soldier and an insect camouflaging itself as a leaf.
Camouflage was not widely used in early western civilization based warfare. 18th and 19th century armies tended to use bright colors and bold, impressive designs. I'm part Scot and trust me when I say there was one day in an office job during school where a fellow employee used to listen to this Paul Abdul tape over and over, loud, no earphones. There was more than once I was tempted to paint my face blue and come over and smash that CD to pieces.
But in military units those colors were intended to daunt the enemy, attract recruits, foster unit cohesion, or allow easier identification of units in the fog of war common to the battlefield before the invention of smokeless gun powder. Jäger riflemen in the 18th century were the first to adopt colors in relatively drab shades of green or grey. Major armies retained their bright colors until battle loses convinced them otherwise. In 1857, the British in India, likely due to early casualties, dyed their white hot-weather uniforms to neutral tones, initially a muddy tan called khaki (from the Urdu word for 'dust'). Later, after the Second Boer war, the non-tropical field uniforms of the whole of the British army came out in a darker shake of khaki serge as other countries were doing, colors more suitable for the environment.
Since deer don't see colors the way we do, the key to staying invisible is to break up your outline. In other words, it's not so much the color of your camouflage that is important, but how well it blends in to your surroundings. Modern camouflage, with its high definition capability, adds visual layers. 3-D camo takes that concept even farther. But the key is to choose a pattern that fits well with the surroundings you hunt most often.
Camouflage netting, natural materials, disruptive color patterns, and paint with special infrared, thermal, and radar qualities have also been used on military vehicles, ships, aircraft, installations and buildings. The dazzle camouflage used on ships during WW I was said to have been intended NOT to make vessels hard to see but rather to make their speed difficult to ascertain by an observer. Ghillie suits are worn by snipers and their spotters take camouflage to a higher level, combining not just colors, but twigs, leaves and other foliage. By replacing the printed patterns of their uniform with colors and materials from the immediate environment they can better remain inconspicuous even while being directly observed through binoculars or from above by aircraft.
Just how important is camouflage? After all, weren't hunters taking deer long before fancy camouflage became all the rage?
The answer is that camouflage is very important to today's hunters. Shrinking woodlands in many areas result in more nervous deer and many hunters as well, use fairly short range weapons (such as a bow). Especially if you're bowhunting, you need to get without 20 or so yards of a deer and stay well hidden from the deer that have heard all your breathren tramping around the area and are skittish to say the least.
If you understand how deer look at the world, you can avoid the simple mistakes that send deer running (camouflage yes, naked jumping jacks NO). For decades hunters believed that deer saw in black and white, but scientists have dissected every aspect of a deer's life, and it turns out a deer's universe doesn't resemble the movie frames of Maltese Falcon.
Light and Color
Mammal eyes contain two different types of cells that receive light: rods and cones. Rods are sensitive to low light but don't register colors. Cones pick up color in daylight. Human eyes contain more cones, so we distinguish color well. But, because we have relatively few rods, our night vision is not the best. Deer eyes are heavy on rods and light on cones, so whitetails and muleys are quite adept and stealthy in the dark. Recent research also shows that deer see some colors fairly well, even in darkening evening light.
"Color" is how we perceive light of various wavelengths and frequencies, making up the visible spectrum, (what we see in a rainbow or most Nascar vehicles). On one end of the spectrum is red, with the longest wavelengths apparent to the human eye; at the other end is violet, with the shortest.
However, other light wavelengths exist. Just as human ears can't hear some sounds, human eyes can't see some light. These invisible wavelengths include ultraviolet (beyond violet) and infrared (below red). Some studies have indicated that deer sense colors toward the violet end of the spectrum, so they can see blues and probably even ultraviolet (UV) light. Studies have stated that deer show only a slight sensitivity to yellow, and that green, orange, and red appear to them as shades of gray.
Exactly how well deer see UV light is debatable. Clothing can contain UV brighteners, additives incorporated in some fabrics and detergents that supposedly make the clothes appear brighter. According to one theory, such clothing makes hunters glow in the dark to a deer's eyes. I know others, including myself, who hunted for years without any UV dampener, with no problem short of sudden movements.
Gear - Unlike whitetails, turkeys have been found to see and assimilate some colors. Both the females and the subordinate toms react to the changing blues, reds and whites of a dominant gobbler’s head and neck during the Spring breeding season. For the female turkeys (hens) the color-pulsing head stimulates them for mating, for the beta toms, it suppresses the breeding urge (no thanks, you take the pretty one. ) Even so, laws are such that you must wear some hunters orange on your person when hunting turkeys. I've known people that turkey hunted in "street clothes" but if your clothes are not patterned to be in harmony with the local environment and you stick out like an elephant at a steel plate shoot, you might as well say goodbye to the hunt and go home.
"Please take me Mom, I can wear camouflage."
Think like a sniper - To really make your setups effective, give your camouflage some help. Use existing branches and leaves to help break up your outline, or add some if there aren't any there. Your goal is a lack of any human outline, making it harder for the deer to lock on to you, even if it's in fighter mode. Make use of natural cover available whether ground or tree stand hunting, positioning you stand in trees that provide limbs or leaves for additional cover, but not enough to block your shot. Pay attention to light. Position the stand or hunting spot so you don't have a big sun beam saying "look, I'm here!" Don't hunt in direct sunlight, and stay to the shadows.
Remember to camouflage everything. The most expensive camo in the world won't matter if you have a reflective-steel rifle blazing in the sun like a lighthouse. Remember to camouflage your weapon and face as well, making sure to cover all visible signs of the skin. This includes the neck, face, hands, wrist, and ankles. If possible, tuck your pants leg into the boots. Any under garments that will be exposed such as socks or t-shirts should be dark in color (a blaze orange bra could also be a good signal device, just saying).
As in shot placement and real estate it's "location, location, location". Go to the area in which you plan to hunt, and note the color schemes. Look at the range of color, just not the overall perception of color. "Woods with green and brown" is not the same as "woods with green and yellow". Take into consideration the time of year when you will be hunting and what that will do to the surrounding colors. What is green in the spring may be yellow in the summer or white in the winter.
Care of your hunting attire is also essential. Use cleaning products free of scent. The turkey's sense of smell is nothing like a whitetails (it's their hearing,not smell, that is acute) but a deer can smell you a mile away if you go into the forest wearing Brut (most women will be running as well) or even some day to day toiletries. Use unscented toiletry products. I have a big tub of Cetaphil cream which is "unscented" and have worn that on my very tender skin, face, hands, legs in the winter and the deer showed no aversion to me or my stand.
Scent is the "Danger Will Robinson" of the animal kingdom. So you don't want to wash your hunting clothes in any product with a snuggly little bear on it or any product that smalls like Unicorn farts.
If UV brighteners are utilized, the dyes present in some fabrics make the UV wavelengths stand out or "bounce" to some critter. (look at me Mr. Turkey!), making them more visible to game.
There are specific detergents that prevent this from happening; absorbing the UV so the clothes do not fade easily. When not in use, store your hunting clothes in airtight bags after thoroughly drying (I dry outside on a line) to keep them safe from dust, insects and household "man-like" odors.
These products are a favorite in my house, for both turkey and whitetail and can usually be had at a reasonable price.
These are just some tips from myself and others who hunt. I hope you will find them useful. As for brands, I do really like RealTree products, but I have also hunted in some generic brands from Big Box Mart with equal success. But whomever the manufacturer is, you want clothing that becomes part of the environment you are in that day.
Hey, where'd Barkley go???