The Art of Blending In

The Art of Blending In

The Art of Blending In

18 August 2014

The Art of Blending In

One of the great parts of being an impassioned Airgun hunting addict are the occasions it affords you to sit and lose yourself in thought whilst waiting for an opportunity to refill the freezer. This is one of the great joys of being out in the country and for me, a valued part of the sport. In fact, this is exactly what I found myself doing the other day on top a beautiful down in Hampshire whist watching the sun start to drop.

 

 

For the last 37 years I have attempted, wherever possible, to blend in to my surroundings. Not just in the last 15 years, literally where Airgun hunting has moved from fun, to become a valuable and sustainable source of free range wild meat, but also at School, University and in any work place, whilst out socialising or trying to start my own business, the importance of blending in has always been key.

For many, this may sound counterproductive to the need to have a Unique Selling Point in a small business, or indeed in getting a job etc. but to me and many people in a similar situation it is crucial. The reason is simple, I have no hands. I am not disabled, I am not dysfunctional, I don’t need adaptations or even help for most things, I am a normally functioning, member of our great Field Sports community and don’t accept the term disabled applies to me. The only time it applies is through others opinions, misconceptions and limitations on what I can and can't do! So whilst sitting on that Down and having enjoyed the day beforehand, where David Wright from Field Sports Britain came to film me for an upcoming episode, I decided enough is enough, it's time to crawl from under my rock and start not blending in. By turning things upside down and attempting to demonstrate my skill at blending in and other field craft that to the Airgun hunter, will prove the difference between success and failure, I'm doing the reverse of what I have tried to do for so long!

So, back to effective blending in, so as not to blend in, if you get my drift!

It is imperative, in my opinion, that you choose the right clothes for the job. There is no point in wondering why Pigeons, Rooks, Crows, Rabbits, Grey Squirrels and other General License Airgun quarry with excellent vision or a keen sense of movement, avoid you like the very predator you aspire to be, if you have turned out in your best BBC Country File issue, Hi Viz rambling outfit. Likewise, it can again come as little wonder to you that you find your permission deserted of quarry if you have chosen a fabric that makes more scratch noises than Run DMC ever managed in their entire album back catalogue. 

Soft, durable and muted are an excellent start to your clothing requirements, but we are spoilt for choice in the camouflage materials and patterns arena available to us and it would be a shame not to use what's on offer. So, where to start?

I had been using Army Surplus DPM pattern, thick cotton overalls in the summer that I put over a T shirt and jeans. To be honest, it was a great investment at £25.00 and has done me for over 7 years. That said, it was very hot in the sun as the double layers trapped heated air and sweat added to the humidity. Also as it began to age, the poppers started to loosen and at times when raising my  BSA R10, the suit would fall open, or I'd catch the scope on a pocket, revealing a red polo top underneath and giving the local pigeon population more than adequate warning to high tail it, at just the wrong moment for me! Certainly a good buy, but not perfect.

I decided I wanted to avoid any Army Surplus, as living near an Army barracks and occasionally popping in to the local shop on my way home from a foray, I didn't want to be mistaken for a wannabe re-enactor or something. Secondly I wanted something that would not be too stifling in the summer heat and thirdly, that would be durable.

Having found various patterns from European and American companies that would certainly do the job, I decided I wanted to choose the best I could find and show my support to a company that has given so much to supporting the vast majority of air gunners, rough shooters, beaters, ferreters, stalkers, pigeon shooters and wild fowlers in this country, who make up the back bone of our sport. I decided to turn to Jack Pyke, trying their Stealth Cap, Field trousers and long sleeved T shirt in English Woodland.

 

 

 

On first wear, I have to say, I was very impressed! The High Definition pattern was brilliant and proved how effective it was by pigeons flying over and attempting to land in a decoy pattern whilst I was still amongst it. If I hadn't been moving then I reckon they'd have landed right by me! As I sat later, quietly on a grassy bank, a Fallow Doe and two Fawns walked within 8 meters of me and only got nervous after my scent alerted them as they got down wind. An amazing thing to see! 

Second test was the heat test or as it came out in my mind, how hot could I have got? I can honestly say that in 28 degree heat, mainly in direct sunlight and with intermittent shade, with the absolutely in no way unusual or pressurised situation of being filmed, I was very comfortable. Hot, but comfortable. The Field Trousers double layering on the seat stopped the ever painful, uninvited stinging nettle from giving me a surprise and the T shirt let enough breeze in and damp out, to keep me comfortable all day.

 

 

 

The final test for me was quiet and, boy, were the Field Trousers and T-Shirt fantastic. I'm not saying that my old overalls were noisy, but in comparison when brushing past brambles and long grass, the Field Trousers were a marked and honest improvement and with the 6 pocket cargo style design, had enough storage to avoid car keys, pellet tin and other junk clanging together inside them, simple but brilliant.

So as far as my first two days of not blending,  hiding or concealing myself in general life went, I hope that I was as effective as the Jack Pyke Field Trousers, T-shirt and Stealth Cap where in keeping me hidden and blended in the hunting field! An excellent start to an excellent new adventure!