Websterís dictionary describes camouflage as ďA disguise; a deception; to disguise in order to conceal.Ē

Websterís dictionary describes camouflage as ďA disguise; a deception; to disguise in order to conceal.Ē

Anyone who has priced camouflage clothing at sporting goods stores or even Wal-Mart knows thereís hardly a limit to the amount of money one can spend on camouflage clothing and gear. My way around that is to buy or otherwise procure military surplus camo. This is hardly a secret and possibly many of you already have gone this route, too, but maybe I can pass on to you a few things Iíve learned about military camouflage clothing.

I spent 20 years in the Army National Guard so I had a leg up, so to speak, on procurement of the stuff to begin with, but not all military camo is created equal. During my service we sported the BDUís (battle dress uniforms) that were all shades of green, black and dark brown and the pattern was comprised of large blotches. This is great stuff for later spring turkey hunting, when all of nature is adorned in its brand new green foliage, but for fall and winter, when most of our hunting takes place, itís too green to look natural. We recently have fallen in love with the newest pattern worn by the Army that is known as ACU Digital. This pattern is comprised of smaller square and rectangular shapes and, close up, looks much like a jigsaw puzzle, but contains more off-whites, grays and drab greens. Itís a much better fit for year-round use and will be great for winter.

Two of the obvious pros of military camo are the availability and the price. Besides local surplus stores, the Internet and eBay teem with sites and sellers peddling military camo clothing and gear. Itís also commonly found at garage sales, where people like me have scarfed it up when their term of service ended thinking it was cool, but then found they had no real use for it and are willing to part with it for a song. In a recent internet search, we even found a site called www.magnafabrics.com that sells military camo fabric in about a dozen different patterns at very reasonable prices, so for those of you who sew or our married to a capable seamstress, that is another route to consider.

In my book, another big plus to military camo is its construction. Aside from the cockamamie button flies on the pants, the military makes quality garments. Things like Velcro tabs that allow you to pull sleeves tight around your wrist, draw strings at the bottom of pants legs to help keep out the cold wind or the ticks, and tabs that let you tighten waists all help make them handy and user-friendly. And then thereís the pockets, especially on the pants. Having too many pockets is like having too many goose decoys or too many walleye fillets in the freezer, it just ainít gonnaí happen, and military camo garments have lots of large handy pockets. The new shirts and pants come in different styles, but my new ACU shirt has six pockets; two on each sleeve and one on each side at chest height, all held shut by Velcro, and the pants all have those great cargo pockets on each side of the legs plus the usual four found on all pants. My shirt has a zipper instead of buttons, which I think is cool, and an expansion panel on the back of each shoulder that flexes when you extend your arms or bend over. The only downside Iíve found with this new camo is all the Velcro. Velcroís great but kind of noisy when the woods are quiet.

Sporting goods stores are full of good-quality camouflage clothing for every occasion and situation. Heck, some companies were founded and exist today entirely for the design and production of camo clothing and gear. So, if you insist on name-brand camouflage clothing, I understand. But if you, like me, love a bargain and feel good when you can spend less on your outdoor clothing and gear and still get just what you need, try surplus military camo, especially the new Army ACU stuff. Itíll help you continue to Explore Kansas Outdoors for less.

Steve Gilliland is a syndicated outdoors columnist, and can be contacted by e-mail at stevegilliland-@idkcom.net.