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Embracing Digital Camo for Bowhunting? (Page II)

A review of what we know about our needs as bowhunters, and what Gore’s scientific approach claims to offer.

My Experience
In early November—the peak rut in my home state of Maryland—I planned a four-day bow hunt on the eastern shore. My Optifade camo in Open Country had just arrived in the form of Sitka’s new Traverse Beanie, Jetstream Vest and Celsius Bib, and I was ready to give the well-publicized pattern a try. Had I known then that the Forest pattern (pictured above) was about to be announced, I would have held off on this field test, but we know what they say about hindsight.

Fellow whitetail nut Bob Robb introduced me to the gear during our antelope hunt in Wyoming and I was immediately intrigued. So much so that I put a call in to the guys and gals at Sitka the day I returned home.

Months later I arrived in Tilghmans Island, Md., with the expectation that I could alter some of my bowhunting tactics if needed. Lower stand placement, much less of a reluctance to put on a stalk and, if possible, a more free flowing, less deliberate draw. In my mind, these were the three advantages that would benefit most any hunter in the market for better camo.

After three days of tough bowhunting in high wind and rain, I stumbled onto the buck of a lifetime. When I say stumbled, I mean stumbled. After hunting my original stand choice with no luck for the beginning of the trip, I decided to grab my portable and change locations. I traipsed though the open hardwoods looking for an appropriate cedar tree to hang my stand.

After choosing my spot, I sat my stand up against the tree and tossed my pack on the ground. While detaching my quiver from my bow I heard leaves crunching in the brush 40 yards to my left. I took about five steps toward the noise and there he was—a monster mainframe 8-point working hard on a scrape. With no time to think, I ducked behind the cover of the tree, slowly put on my release and nocked my arrow. I slid out, repeated those same five steps and began to draw as the buck lifted his head.

He didn’t spot me until I had come to full draw, and as I let my arrow fly he dropped his back ever so slightly. I watched in Matrix-like slow motion as the buck of my lifetime sank just below the tip of my broadhead. Even after the shot he didn’t spook completely, moving like smoke through the heavy cover of pines and brush.

After this encounter I analyzed the ins and outs of the situation. The high winds made hearing my approach less likely, the wind direction made smelling me less likely, and from what I could determine, my Optifade camo made seeing me less likely. Exactly the litmus test I was hoping to get. Optifade helped give me the chance at the biggest bow kill of my life.

While my on-the-fly shooting may still be suspect, I am more certain now that the “science of nothing” has validity. But like with any real test, the result must be repeated to ensure accuracy. I’ll be headed out many more times this season with my Optifade gear in tow, hoping to get another shot at a Pope & Young whitetail.

As Gore has moves to address the specific concerns of bowhunters everywhere with its digital line, there has never been a better time to embrace this new camo concept.

And as this line grows—Gore has already signed on with Bowtech and G5 Outdoors to get its new pattern on bows and sights—so will the dedication of the digital following. One of the major fallbacks of Gore’s current partnership with high-end garment maker Sitka is something that is most important to everyone—price. But it is certain that with growth comes availability, and we are already beginning to see Optifade available on a growing number of products.

But after all the experts and complicated science, turns out that the backbone of Gore’s Optifade is its practical application—what it allows hunters to do that other patterns do not. Fading into the background, becoming nothing and moving with much more confidence of concealment is as good as it gets for a bowhunter.

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