The Colors of Camo
Camouflage is a soldier or hunter’s most valuable tool in the bush or field. Camouflage, though, isn’t just about making yourself invisible. Being camouflaged means adjusting your personality to your environment and to the task at hand. The personality traits we adopt as hunters -- quietude, reservation, attentiveness, etc. -- not only allow us to catch our prey, but also allow us to enjoy the world around us in a way that few others take the time to experience. This slice of the world is a gratifying turn to nature without the swamp of emails, to do lists, deadlines, traffic, or housework.
Reid Vander Veen of WideOpenSpaces gives a list of the top ten qualities great hunters have that set them apart. These qualities include patience, ethics, respect, and etc. (source). Outdoor Life named 50 great hunting characteristics, which include speed, landmarking, quietude, and sweeping away clutter (source).
These qualities are essential in your hunting life, but are also necessary for your home and work life as well. We need these traits in both realms of our life to bring the peace you feel hunting into your everyday life.
Having patience, even when you don’t catch anything, is necessary for the bush. In life, patience comes in handy when you’re dealing with your spouse, children, neighbors, boss, and annoying coworkers. Learning to breathe, compose yourself, and keep calm when stressful situations arise -- and you know they’re about to arise any minute -- will benefit you, your loved ones, and the people around you. [Tip: Having and keeping patience is difficult! Patience in the bush does not always translate to patience in the office, so it’s a skill you need to work on. A practice for yourself is to think of the people who test your patience the most. Are there three that are really trying? What about these people tests your patience? Is the annoyance their fault (e.g. braggarts, liars, know-it-alls) or your fault (e.g. jealousy, annoyed with something they can’t help)? Remember, people you have patience for usually have patience with you, so work on blending in with them, but remember to wear bright orange with the rest.]
There’s definitely an ethical code when you hunt, like understanding your prey and their habitat, showing respect towards the environment, holding a valid hunting license, not cheating, and not being wasteful. There’s also an ethical code in real life that extends much beyond legal aspects. Understanding right and wrong and reflecting on our actions, and how our actions affect others, is incredibly important. We live in a world so very different than the world of our parents and grandparents that you may get bogged down with modern beliefs, “pc” terms, and divided political strife, but when you put all that aside we are all just people trying to do our best in life. Keeping the human in ethics will allow you to keep your cool and respect towards others.
Respecting animals, nature, and other hunters is essential when out in the woods. That respect should vein through our lives as well, making each person we come in contact with feel a little bit of warmth when they meet us. It seems like such a trivial thing, but spreading little bits of respect around -- a smile or nod to a stranger, a compliment to a checkout clerk, a heartfelt thank-you to an acquaintance -- can really impact people. Making others feel good will, in turn, make you feel pretty good, too.
In the bush, remaining still is one of the most important characteristics of a Hunter. In real life, the world moves at terrific speed. Work, technology, news, family, friends, sports . . . it can be overwhelming. We should take guidance from our time in the woods and learn to stand still and observe the world around us. Forcing yourself to slow down every day will be reflected in your work, your relationships, and your sport.
Noises on the field can mean losing your prey. Unfortunately, the world that we live in outside of the woods is loud. While most of us can’t shut out all the noise completely, quietude is an essential part of life. Rising early or staying up late and escaping back into nature -- even on the off-season -- can help you achieve some peaceful moments, even if it’s just over a cup of coffee. Quiet allows you to take a break from life and reflect on your day, your relationships, and whatever else you may want to ponder. [Tip: Try to settle your busy-minded friends by reminding them to quiet with you. Listening to nature together will change the dynamics of your camp-fire conversations.]
Hunters need to pick distinctive landmarks so they don’t become confused when changing locations. In life, too, it’s also beneficial to have a landmark or a home base to provide an anchor to wandering. Wanderlust is an exciting feeling, but can lead to becoming lost, both physically and mentally without having somewhere to return to. Even those of us who don’t have wanderlust need a place of our own to escape to, whether that be a man cave, kitchen, or shed. Landmarks provide a sense of stability and balance to an otherwise unsure path.
Removing dead leaves and brush from your immediate area can help eliminate possible noise if you need to move while on a hunt. This is a big problem with our modern life, as consumerism and cool gadgets can take over. De-cluttering in your home is proven to be beneficial to your physical and mental health, allowing you to focus more on important things like relationships, family, and your passions -- like hunting.
The best hunters know that life can -- and, often, does -- reflect on hunting. Hunting, in return, can reflect on your personal life. The colors of camouflage -- browns, greens, reds, and yellows -- even prove this, reflecting a great hunter’s personality traits: security, calmness, warmth, and perseverance. Taking what you’ve learned as an experienced hunter or soldier can be mirrored in your personal life if you allow it. All hunters, though, must wear a piece of orange, a necessary article of clothing to prevent hunting accidents. This orange color lets you stand out amongst the dullness and drudgery that can break you. Once you mirror the great hunter qualities in your day-to-day life, the bright orange in your life will be living the truth of your core values you keep both on and off the field. You might not be able to escape traffic jams and work deadlines, but maybe what makes being a great hunter can also make you a great human.