To what lengths will you go to get “The Shot”? A few weekends ago, I accompanied a good friend of mine (we’ll call him “Dave” mostly because that is… uh…well that what his mother called him!) to a large sporting goods store to shop for hunting equipment. I thought that buying some camo gear might help me with my wildlife photography. Hunters and photographers are alike in many ways; we just carry different “weapons.” Upon walking into the store, I noticed a full camo ghillie suit, complete with fake leaves from head to toe and a hood/face mask.
The camouflage looked so realistic, it was hard to imagine any animal being able to spot me wearing it in a natural setting. Of course, clothing is only so good, because even if the animal can’t see me, it can smell me. So investing in simple camo clothing wasn’t going to be enough. Nope – I needed the special “anti – scent” camo clothing system to prevent my smell from giving my location away. I began to realize that this hunting clothing might get very expensive rather quickly.
As I walked around the store, perusing the different styles and colors and types of camouflage pants, shirts, jackets, underwear (no scent underwear? Hmm… now there might just be a market for that!), hats and gloves, I came to the section of “no stink” products.
Of course my camouflage anti-stink clothes are only so good. I needed the patented “Scent Be Gone” shampoo, soap, deodorant, toothpaste, mouth spray and gum. And why go to such lengths only to have my normal lip balm give me away? Yes, I would need the no-scent lip balm (no, I am not making this up)!
Did it end there? Not quite. It wasn’t enough to have no-scent clothing. I couldn’t leave the store without picking up a bottle or two of “Scent Be Gone” laundry detergent – just to make sure no unwarranted scents crept into my clothing!
And just for good measure, in case I missed something in the long chain of stink defense, I would need some scent killer spray (why risk it when you have come this far?). Scents can’t just be minimized – they must be killed outright!
Seems like a lot of money to spend for clothing and supplies just to get a shot of a zebra at a zoo.
When it came time to check out I asked Dave, “So what does that smell like”? He looked at me and responded, “It doesn’t.” To which I replied, “Then how do you know you are really buying anything?” I have to admit that a scene flashed into my mind; it involved a factory where people were putting plain water into fancy “Scent Killer” bottles and having a good laugh as the Brinks armored car pulled up to the loading dock loaded with bags full of money!
But before judging my hunting brethren’s expenses on camo gear and supplies being a bit silly, I began to consider that maybe they are right – maybe I should spend $1000 on clothes and anti stink stuff instead of $5000 on a longer lens?
I began to consider the lengths we will often go to get closer to wildlife for our “hunt” or to gain a different perspective on a landscape scene. We may think $1,000 on camo gear for hunters sounds rather silly, but try telling a hunter that you spent $5,000 on a zoom lens in order to take a picture of a deer!
We would love to hear what practices you have engaged in and how much you have invested in order to get “The Shot.” And please, always remember to be safe out there for the sake of both us and our “targets”.
Get the best Himachal Tour Packages with the affordable price by Himachal tours and travels, Delhi Offers Customized Himachal Packages are also available Shimla Kullu Manali Tours & Holidays for Family, Group & Honeymoon Couples
I would love to take a look into that store :)
Take a look at my article about ghillie suits:
Great piece about the industry of selling as much useless crap to people as possible. I grew up in a hunting family and was taught to stalk and stay downwind in the military I went through sniper school and was taught to study the target, terrain and conditions.
I don’t hunt anymore but try and apply everything I was taught, I have bought a dome hide (have had ravens use it as a perch while I was inside) and a bag hide which I find great as long as you make the right selection of terrain and timing when you’re getting them in place.
I also use trail cameras a lot and have found that despite there being a scent they’ve been more curious than anything else.
I own some old military camo clothing to help me blend but movement and noise is much more of an issue than scent, a small container of talcum powder is key in keeping yourself on the right side of the wind, taping down anything that clinks or bangs and moving slowly.
Some of my friends say I will go ‘too far’ to get an image. I don’t think so but what do you think….would you put $15k of gear in a kayak?
Is that a 800mm lens ?? Man, you have got guts is what I can say………………
Best of Regards,
Your humorous article shows up a profound divide between hunters and photographers. A hunter expects his/her encounter with an alpha predator or a large prey species to end in the death of that creature. It is a vastly different proposition for a hunter to be in a predators detection zone, or worse yet that creatures startle zone.
May I suggest to your readers, that how ever closely they mimic the style and methods of hunters, carrying a camera is not the same as carrying a high velocity scoped rifle or heavy gauge shotgun.
Carrying a camera produces a completely different threat profile, both for the viewer and the viewed. It follows that it demands a completely different mind set.
Polar Bears are flagged as being highly dangerous because they are large powerful creatures that move fast, but then so are Grizzlies. Ice Bears are notorious because they regard humans as normal prey.
Photographers survive wilderness encounters because of the choices the animal makes. Pretending not to be a human has a down side.
Your very funny article, absolutely slayed me, I could have died laughing :D
Thank you James, I am glad you saw the humor in the article and I thank you for your feedback.
Excellent and an interestingly humorous article Tom, on my visits to the States I have occasionally wandered into a hunting store and have been amazed as most UK visiters would be at the variety of hunting equipment, but I guess the real aim of this article is don’t take life to seriously.
It’s really an interesting article!! I would like to read more comments and reviews on camo peripheral products!!
I really enjoy this web site, and appreciate the spirit in which the article was written. It is well written.
But, i really don’t want to see any articles about hunting on photographyLIFE, even if written a light hearted spirit. I don’t want this to be a political issue, so I won’t say any more.
I think you are an excellent writer, and I know I’ll enjoy your future articles.
Just my 5 cents for the discussion.
As we all know the most important thing in camo is to be able to brake the shape of a human body. Birds especially have very good vision and even better visual memory. If let’s say white human has difficulty identifying oriental faces and other way around then for the birds it’s not a problem at all. Birds vision is relying on the size, shape and colour. Combining all three things together in the brain birds can see smallest difference in the objects. Some animals cannot see very well like deer (They are also colour blind) for example but they can smell you for miles away. So my point is that when you go to photograph wildlife you may want to learn a thing or two on what bird or an animal you going to photograph. One thing I have recently learned about Buffaloes…. DO NOT FEED THEM when you photograph them. These guys change their temper in a blink of a second and they can act very unpredictably. If you planning to photograph an animal try to learn about this animal a thing or two, that always helps.
I will always will take a longer lens instead of the super duper camo, but combination of both always giving you best results.
I can cope with the camo gear and long lens but I think I will draw the line at smelling like a bear!!
This is nothing new but I would far sooner stay down wind of the target and arrive home smelling of Brut!!
Thanks Andy for the smile.