The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Outdoors

February 12, 2012

‘My favorite color, camouflage’

It appears that camouflage is more popular than ever before. In fact, it also appears that it is not just for clothing anymore. A recent study came across my desk titled “Camouflage Covers Most Hunter Purchases,” conducted by Southwick Associates.

According to the survey, “From clothing and firearms to wallets, flashlights and even furniture, hunter-style camouflage has become an essential feature of the products hunters buy for use in the field and at home. Asked by HunterSurvey.com and ShooterSurvey.com what percentage of their hunting equipment purchases were in camouflage patterns, less than six percent of respondents said none. That means a whopping 94 percent of the sportsmen surveyed purchased at least one camouflage item in 2011.” I admit; I’m one of the 94 percent.

Some sportsmen apparently can’t live without camo goodies. “In breaking down the larger numbers, 18 percent of sportsmen said between 71 to 80 percent of the items they bought were in camouflage, 11 percent said between 81 and 90 percent were camo and 15 percent said at least half of their purchases were camo. Just over 7 percent reported everything they purchased for hunting had some camouflage on it,” the survey reported.

I am a sucker for camo, especially for my go-to brand. The survey says I am not alone. “It is no surprise that the second most deciding factor is brand loyalty itself, which was the second most selected factor on HunterSurvey.com (56 percent).”

I couldn’t help but wonder why we as sportsmen love camo and wear it so proudly on everything from our hats to our couches. Again, the survey sheds some light on the green/brown/leafy subject. “While the survey did not question the motivations behind purchasing camouflage-covered equipment, likely reasons include the concealment benefits of camouflage products while in the field and the prevalence of hunting products on store shelves in camouflage. Many sportsmen also identify with and prefer the look of camouflage on items, which help them announce to others that they are proud sportsmen.”

So where did the whole camo-thing come from? A brief Internet browser search revealed to me this little bit of trivia on the history of camouflage. “It is a wonderful opportunity, this game of hokus-pokus," the New York Times mused in a 1917 Op-Ed about the newfangled concept of “camouflage,” borrowed from the French word camoufler, “to disguise.” Just two years earlier, France had established the world’s first military team dedicated to stealth attire. To check my facts, I called local writer Richard Mann to get his two-cents’ worth on camo history. He replied, “One of the first uses of camo was leading up to and during the Revolutionary War where militia men donned the drab colors of fall to help conceal themselves from the Indians and British who expected them to be in uniform. It is, actually, an American thing. Yeah, the French might have been the first to put it in pattern but the concept is American.”

From its beginnings to today, camo and the people who choose to don it are part of our mainstream culture. Even famous country singers like Brad Paisley, a native hillbilly, are getting into the action. His song “Camouflage” is racing up the charts as everyone from grandmas and young children sings along. I have to admit that with lyrics like this, it’s hard to go wrong. “You can blend in in the country/ You can stand out in the fashion world/ Be invisible to a whitetail/ Irresistible to a redneck girl/ Camouflage, camouflage/ Oh you’re my favorite color, camouflage.”

Simply put, camo is not just for clothing anymore and I for one don’t mind one bit. Dang, that song is catchy. “I asked Jenny to the prom and her mom knew how to sew/ So she made a matching tux and gown from duck blind Mossy Oak/ We took pictures in the backyard before we went to the dance/ And the only thing that you can see is our faces and our hands.”

Great. Now I have that song stuck in my camouflage-hat-covered head.

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