The Evolution of Ghillie Suits

Early Ghillie Suits

The Newest Generation of Ghillies!

The first Ghillie suits available for hunters were extremely expensive. My husband brought burlap bags and asked me to make a suit for hunting birds & turkeys.

Being tragically gullible,  I labored over this task for a couple of weeks.  By its nature, burlap is heavy, dank, smelly, itchy and flammable!  Let me emphasize — they are really itchy!

By the end of the job, however, we’d saved most of the $300 cost of the suit.  The results were impressive, the suit worked well and Richard brought his limit home.

Early Problems with Ghillies

Early suit’s materials were awful. When it rained, Ghillie suits became sodden and smelled worse than before. Drying them out was a challenge.

The suits were heavy and caught on twigs and branches. One good thing about them is that they did not encourage movement, so any hunter inside stayed rather still.

To say that the early Ghillie suits were ‘a pain,’ doesn’t begin to cover the situation.

A Better Product

Very quickly, hunters learned that suits made of real burlap bags weren’t desirable. What else could be used to protect the hunter while not causing him to itch to death?

Manufacturers began experimenting with materials. They used a variety of fabrics, as well as  leaf-shaped additions and synthetic blends.

The evolution of the Ghillie suit has been a long one. Some of the fabrics “swished” and were a dead give-away to the animals the hunter was trying to shoot.

Other suits had a sheen that caught an animal’s eye long before a hunter could draw a bead to shoot.

Hints for Using Ghillie Suits

  • It has taken over 20 years of experimentation for manufacturers to create really ‘successful’ Ghillie suits. Some of their “almosts” are on clearance counters. Run home and do some research on the Internet before investing in clearance ghillies!
  • Remember that patience is more important than a ghillie suit! Animals are very sensitive to movement! If you, or someone hunting with you is wiggly, use a blind.
  • Turkeys lack the curiosity gene! If they see movement, they leave! They leave investigation of movement to those gobblers having a death-wish!
  • Ghillie suits are a wonderful addition to a hunter’s tools. However, they can never replace patience!


Next Time: Finish the Info about Washing Products Without UV Brighteners!


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Guess What? Your Mama Was Your First Hunting Instructor!


Mom Finally Gets Some Credit!


Most hunters do not realize that “dear ol’ Mom” was their first trainer in the fine skill of hunting.  Dads came along later, to take the semi-trained youngster to the woods for further instruction.

Let me show you what I mean.

Mom’s Hunting Tips

Your mother cautioned you ‘not to make a spectacle of yourself’ – an important hunting tip.  Great hunters stay in the shadows – out of direct sunlight. There’s only one word for hunters who walk along the tops of hills with the sun behind them – busted!

Mama was right when she cautioned you to ‘quit wiggling.’ No matter how well you’ve camouflaged yourself, too much movement will give you away.

The Importance of Smell in Hunting

Most large game have an acute sense of smell. So, when your Mama told you to take a bath because you smelled, she was offering good advice.

This is not a time to bathe with your new bar of “Obsession” soap. Neutral, non-scented soap is the best idea.

Hunters planning on stalking in pine areas sometimes store their ghillie wear in plastic bags, along with pine leaves.  Those hunting in dense woods often put a variety of leaves with their ghillie suits – so they will smell more natural.

How Deer & Ducks Use Light

Your mother provided excellent hunting training when she chased you to the bus, waving your mittens. Sweet thing that she was, Mama worried you’d catch cold.

Illness is the least of a hunter’s concerns. However, having one’s hands & face (and any other exposed surface) covered is critical because your body reflects light.

When a duck is looking down at a marsh and sees a flash of light, he continues on to a safer place. Deer also have an uncanny knack for seeing a single flash and knowing it’s time to move elsewhere.

Ghillie Wear as Concealment

If the hunter is relying on his camo and ghillie wear for concealment, he needs to remember Mom’s thoughts on this issue: “Child, go back to your room and take off that ratty shirt.”

She was really explaining that worn or faded camo does you little good. When the contrast (lights vs. shadows) is gone, so is your protection! If your image isn’t broken up by the lights and shadows, you will be seen.

“Don’t be a show-off,”  was just your mother’s way of reminding you that shiny objects are seen objects!

Like your face – a thermos, rifle scope, watch – has reflective properties. These items should be removed or concealed – either with contact paper or matte tape or whatever. Remember: Your solution must be matte (flat, no reflection) or it’s no good.

Sound Camouflage

When your mother queried you about “Are you ready?” and said, “Keep quiet when the visitors come,” she was doing her best to explain the importance of preparation for hunting. She was also trying to remind you to check your ‘noise factor.’

To be successful in hunting, preparation is critical. Realizing you need to travel back 100 miles to civilization to buy a can opener is a real bummer.

Oiling squeaks, gathering hunting supplies and food, checking your weapons – all calls for planning.  Game relies on noise and movement to save them from your dinner table.

When Mama asked you to look at something “from a different point of view,” she was offering another excellent hunting tip. Hunters are more successful when they are not at eye-level with their quarry.

Be up in a tree (10 -12 feet up), or sitting on the ground with your back to a tree. You want to see the “whites of his eyes” before your target sees yours! Be where he doesn’t expect you.

I could go on, but I think I’ve proven my point that your Mom was your first hunting teacher!

It just goes along with my other hypothesis: Your Mother is Always Right.

— (Signed) Mama

© 2009 by Marylouise of


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Published in: on December 10, 2009 at 1:30 pm  Comments Off on Guess What? Your Mama Was Your First Hunting Instructor!  
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For the Hunter with Everything, Including UV Brighteners!

Last time, I shared with you the brand names of the detergents that do not add UV brighteners to your hunting clothes.

Today’s Discussion…



Taking Care of Your Hunting Clothes!


Is for those of you who have clothing  purchased with UV brighteners in them or you have washed your hunting clothes in the wrong detergents.

Now, What do You Do?

I hate to admit it, but I haven’t found any product — or washing process — that will remove UV brighteners except Atsko’s UV Killer. *

Believe me, I’ve tried everything: multiple washings with concocted brews and a variety of products. Repeated washings will not remove the brighteners, once added.

OK, I Surrender…

If you have brighteners in your hunting togs, there’s only one way to remove them.

However, after removing the UV brighteners, save some money by using the products mentioned in the last posting (Part 4*: Approved Detergents for Hunting Clothes).

These will not replace the UV brighteners in your hunting goods:

Country Save
Bold Powder
Cheer Liquid (all versions)
Cheer Powder (all versions)
All Powder (all versions)
Surf Powder (all versions)
Woolite (all versions)

Two Others I’d Like to Add: **

20 Mule-Team Borax (although not a detergent in the normal sense, this product has had the same ingredients for over 100 years.)

baking soda (same reason)

Other Tips to Disguise Your Scent from Deer & Turkey

– Lots of hunters put their hunting clothes in plastic bags with leaves, conifer cones, etc., from the area they plan to hunt.  The clothes absorb the odors of the plant material.

Wash yourself with non-scented soaps.

– Do not smoke or drink alcoholic beverages before hunting.

– Some hunters clean the clothes washer before washing their hunting things by washing a short wash with baking soda (as the detergent). This cleans the tub of all detergents, so no trace of UV brighteners will stain their clothing.

– Some hunters swear by “earth scented” dryer sheets.  Others dry their clothing outside.   I tend to err on the side of caution and avoid the dryer, if possible.  If there can be detergent residue in the wash tub, can’t there also be softener residue in the dryer?


Next Time: More Tips and Washing Soda/ Baking Soda as Washing Products


Disclaimer: I don’t sell any products I will mention in this series. This is strictly educational information.


This blog is a companion to my website: GreatGhilliesAndGraphics

Six Clothing Tips for Turkey Hunters

These are 6 clothing tips for turkey hunters.

Camo Wear Patterns 

Hunter's Face Veil

Hunter's Face Veil



Found some camo wear in the “Clearance” section of your store? BEWARE! Some of those ‘3-D camo’ and ‘movable leaves’  wear that you will find on clearance racks are a bad investment. Why?

If they move on a still morning, turkeys don’t wait to see why they moved. They quickly make tracks — in a different direction!

New Clothes Shine

Shiny new clothes may be great for church, but are a poor idea when hunting turkeys. Why? Turkeys have sharp eyes.  A shiny watch strap, glittery watch and reflections off of clothing are dead give-aways!

Keep in mind: Turkeys that survive the first weeks of hunting learn about shiny objects and hunters. They get smarter as the season wears on.

I’ve already written lots about what to use when washing your hunting wear. Mosey on over to UV Brighteners: We’ve Got the News, where I name names of the  products that will not add UV Brighteners to your clothing.

Critical Elements of Hunting Clothing

If your hunting clothing meets all of these criteria, your clothing will not impede your ability to  snag a turkey: comfortable, safe (nothing to hang up on branches, gun barrels, etc.), and silent (no noise, no matter how slight).

As a test:  Rub your clothing (pants legs or sleeves) together. Well-washed cotton garments generally are silent. However, some garments with lots of polyester can sound very loud!

Outerwear for Hunting

Some guides suggest “mix-and-match”  — green camo over brown camo (pants). In other words, they are suggesting you wear the same pattern, with differing colors.  There’s a lot of controversy about this idea.

I’m going to side-step it and suggest coveralls. They are versatile; on hot days,  wear a single layer cotton coverall.

On cold days, wear underlayers (of wool, cotton, whatever) for extra insulation.


Another reason I like coveralls, is that they seem to have an endless supply of pockets — deep and roomy — to carry the endless list of “must-haves:” gloves, turkey tags, shells, calls, etc.

Face Nets vs. Black Make-Up

A few years ago, everyone wore black face makeup – to reduce face shine. Now, however, the trend is towards face veils or face nets.


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It’s Friday. Some Absolutely Worthless Info!


Great for Hunting in Snow!


This has been a hard week.  Since Friday has FINALLY arrived, let the silliness begin!

As I have mentioned before, WordPress has a nifty tool that tells us how people find our site.  Usually, seekers enter words into the search engine, and Google, or others, try to find a page with info to help.

Real Ghillie Suit

I certainly hope the seeker does not find a real ghillie suit.  About 30 years ago, MDH Richard brought dozens of burlap bags to me and asked if I’d make him a ghillie suit.

Obviously, I wasn’t in my right mind when I said, “Sure!”  So I started to cut, stitch and itch!  The burlap bags reeked; the stray fibers filled my sewing machine and lungs.

When I finished, I took a much-needed rest cure in a German sanitorium for folks who have taken in more dust particles than brain cells.

Actually, I learned that the original isn’t always the best. Those suits were hot, itchy and stank! It didn’t take long before manufacturers changed to lighter, washable fabrics …. And, I learned they were well worth the price!

Hunting Clothes for 7 year-olds

This is the second WordPress item of interest.  Even though there are fewer kids out hunting, they are dressed better than ever before!

Until this past holiday season, I didn’t even try to carry kids’ ghillie suits. Why?

No one could keep ‘kids hunting wear’ in stock! I don’t think manufacturers had an inkling how hot (popular) these suits would be!

If you are planning to get one of these suits for your junior hunter this fall, buy it out-of-season.

Ok, so today won’t be a total loss, here’s a hunting joke. I found it @

Today’s Joke:  He Walks on Water

An avid duck hunter was in the market for a new bird dog. His search ended when he found a dog that could actually walk on water to retrieve a duck. Shocked by his find, he was sure none of his friends would ever believe him.

He decided to try to break the news to a friend of his, the eternal complainer who refused to be impressed with anything. This, surely, would impress him. He invited him to hunt with him and his new dog.

As they waited by the shore, a flock of ducks flew by.  They fired, and a duck fell.  The dog responded and jumped into the water.

The dog, however, did not sink but instead walked across the water to retrieve the bird, never getting more than his paws wet.

This continued all day long.  The complainer watched carefully, saw everything, but did not say a single word.

On the drive home the hunter asked his friend, “Did you notice anything unusual about my new dog?”

“I sure did,” responded the complainer. “He can’t swim.”


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Published in: on January 23, 2009 at 9:10 am  Comments Off on It’s Friday. Some Absolutely Worthless Info!  
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Round-Up of Ghillie Suit Info!


Bow Hunters Need Special Suits

Bow Hunters Need Special Suits


At one point, I thought I was an “expert” on ghillie suits. Hah!

Changes and innovation are happening so rapidly that it is now hard just to stay up with Ghillie gear!

This Year’s Articles:


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Published in: on December 27, 2008 at 10:21 am  Comments (1)  

Matching Your Ghillie Wear to Your Hunting


Bow Hunters Need Freedom of Action!

Bow Hunters Need Freedom of Action!


The type of hunting you do will determine what kind of camouflage or ghillie suit you need.

Do you plan to stalk game?  Are you more comfortable lying down or moving?  What is your weapon of choice?

The Special Needs of Archers

Bow hunters have rather specialized needs. It is critical for archers to have their shooting arm and chest area free of extra material.

Having freedom of action is critical.  In order to be successful, nothing can interfere with the action of their bow string. Archers are usually within 20 yards of their target; there’s little room for error.

Whether you are in a tree stand, hiding in a blind or stalking, safety and flexibility are your watch words. Generally, bow hunters are covered from head to boot.

Most ghillie suits appropriate for archers have additional jute, burlap or synthetic netting/fabric. The purpose to to give each hunter enough material to individualize his suit for his unique needs.

If the ghillie suit is made of jute or burlap, it has been treated with fire retardant. If the suit is washed off (natural fabrics generally won’t withstand washing in a machine), be sure to retreat the garment with the extra retardant supplied with the suit.

The Name of the Game is Mobility

The sharp-eyed turkey offers a special challenge. Many hunters like poncho-type gear. Because only the top half of the body is covered, it gives the hunter the flexibility to stalk his game.

Another product for the upright stalk is something called a “flage suit.” It is a one-piece ghillie suit that hangs from the shoulders to the boots. The body is totally encased in the suit and usually has 2 lbs. of extra material.

Camo Blankets & Netting

The first time I saw the item below, I was convinced it was a product for the funeral industry!  A goose hunter might use this to lie down in a field, waiting for geese.


4' x 6' Blanket

Hunter's Blanket

These camo blankets and netting are an improvement over the old do-it-yourself methods of hiding yourself and your equipment.   I look at them as portable hunting blinds.

They can be hung from trees and draped between upright posts, so you can rearrange your temporary blind to meet your changing needs.

Keeping Your Rifle Undercover

In my last report (coming soon), the issue of covering yourself and your equipment will be discussed. You may be able to use the excess materials from your ghillie suit to cover your weapon. However, each month more companies develop camo especially for the gun. The designs are getting more complete all the time.

It makes little sense to buy a ghillie suit, yet leave your hands, face and gun shiny. Light will reflect off each of these surfaces. And your quarry will thank you, as he races away to the next county!

Paintballers and Ghillie Wear

Military snipers and hunters aren’t the only folks who’ve developed a fondness for ghillie suits.

Paintballers have joined the fun; they tend to choose suits in the new synthetic fabrics. Generally, the materials are rot-proof, easy to wash, mildew resistant and the threads used to stitch the garment are synthetic (because cotton threads would rot in the rough-and-tumble world of paintballing).


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A Few Tips on Buying a Ghillie Suit

The Original Ghillie Suits Were Awful

Originally, ghillie suits started out as low tech garments. All you needed


Ghillie Suits are Available for Virtually Every Region - From the Woods to Snow-Bound Canyons!


were several burlap sacks, nylon thread and some patience. But take it  from me, those suits were awful!

How do I know? MDH* talked me into making one – perhaps 30 years ago.

At the time, the ghillie suits were horribly expensive to buy. We learned the hard way — you REALLY had to love hunting to wear one of those things. They were very hot (we live in Texas), incredibly itchy and stank. Heaven help you if it rained; the stink turned rotten.

The Origin of the Ghillie Suit

Scottish gamekeepers were the first to use ghillie suits, to help them catch wild game for the table. Along with the bad smell, itching and heavy weight, they were flammable.

With all these negatives, it’s hard to imagine anyone wearing these concealment suits willingly!

The good news is — all that is behind us. Ghillie garments now come in a wondrous array of fabrics and weights. The camo suits vary between one and four pieces!

Want to Make Your Own Camo Suit?

You may be thinking about making your own ghillie. There are places on the Internet that offer directions. Having done it myself, let me give you a tip.

The materials will cost as much as a fully constructed suit – and you will still face dozens of hours of construction.  If you use burlap sacks – please make sure you use fire retardant each time you wear them!

Things to Consider

Under what conditions will you be hunting?  If you mostly hunt in warm weather, choose a light weight garment.  On colder days, you might need to wear a jacket under your camo.

What will you be hunting?  The game you’re going after has a large influence on the camo you wear. Many smaller animals have poor eyesight. As long as your shape is broken up by pattern and you blend into the background – fine.

However, deer and sharp-eyed turkeys require more careful pattern selection and color choices. Deer only see two colors: blue and yellow.

They do not see blaze orange, but do notice patterns that are not consistent with the background. In other words, if you stand out from the background – it’s a bad plan.

Turkeys, unfortunately, have wonderful color-distinguishing abilities. Therefore, the patterns and colors must make you part of the background.

What will be the dominant colors of the terrain?  You will be the loneliest hunter around if you are walking around in a desert-colored pattern (beige and light browns) in a snow-bound area!

By the way, you don’t have to be a fashionista while you hunt: Matching jacket and pants are not required! In fact, if you are moving around, it is better to have differing patterns for your top and bottom halves.

As long as you are quiet, the break in patterns will make it harder to catch your movements.


* MDH = My Deer Husband 🙂


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Anyone Out There? Questions for My Readers!


Calling all Readers!

Calling All Readers!


Just want you to know that it gets mighty lonely in my Ivory Tower, issuing,  ‘Calling all Readers!’  pearls of fascinating lore.

If there is anyone in cyberspace who has read my article:  Hunting News: Why You Just Might Not Get a Turkey or Deer this Year or A Few More Facts About Deer Hunting — I’d love to hear how you are handling this issue.

Hey, I’m even willing to listen to anyone who hasn’t read either article!

Briefly, hunting clothes purchased from China AND/OR washed in detergents have UV brighteners. This is a real bummer if you are hunting either of the two species with extremely sharp eyes — the turkey and deer. Essentially, folks with brighteners in their hunting clothes “glow” — making it very easy for the turkey and deer to elude those hunters.  Either of the mentioned articles has a photo of the “bright, blue, glowing hunter.”

What I’d like to know is

Are you concerned about the issue?

Have you tried the product mentioned (UV Killer)?

Did it work? As well as advertised?

Have you discovered an alternative method of removing (and keeping out) “the glow?” What is it and how does it work?  Inquiring minds want to know!

I appreciate your input; thanks for taking time to respond. (No Mom, you don’t need to answer these questions. I want to see if I have any readers besides you!)


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