I’ve used many different camo patterns over the years, as I’ve hunted deserts, plains, mountains, tropical swamps and jungle, and waist deep snow fields. I’m not sure an exact match between the camo pattern and the natural surroundings is mandatory, but blending in helps. This is the most obvious when hunting in snow; if there are no branches or grass showing through the snow drifts a pure white covering will make you almost invisible. If grass and/or branches are showing through, having the white camo pattern broken up with a branch pattern is even better.
And this is the crux of it, once the color of the camo is roughly matched, what is much more important in my experience is that the pattern serves to break up your outline. One of the best examples of this is when a hunter wears a ghillie suit with branches, vines, and leaves stuck into it to further break up their contour, which allows the camo pattern to optimally do its job.
The options for camo are quite varied, especially here in the states where you can walk into a big box discount department store and find a range of camo that matches local conditions fairly well. You can walk in and get a pair of matched camo jeans, shirt, gloves, face mask and a hat for a few bucks. Its not technical quality clothing, it won’t last forever, but it works. On the other end you can walk into any sporting goods store and be faced with a huge array of expensive technical camo gear that is more comfortable and handles the elements better, though I don’t think it has vastly improved efficacy with respect to making the hunter blend in better.
There are other approaches to covering up, I have many sets of light mesh camo made for summer and spring hunting. These were purchased in a size larger, so they can be worn over my street cloths. We were hunting in Texas last week and walked into a restaurant for lunch, and every person in the establishment was clad in camo. However, in some areas where we are jumping from property to property in less camo friendly environs, being able to slip full camo on or off over a pair of jeans and a t-shirt is advantageous.
Another similar approach is a large 3D leafy camo poncho that is a cross between a wearable blind and a ghillie suit. This is a large square camo netting with artificial leaves and grass affixed, with a center opening and hood that allows it to be draped over the hunter’s shoulders. The advantage of this system over a conventional fixed blind is that it allows mobility, and the advantage over camo clothing is that it allows a certain amount of movement without giving away your position. The downside is that if you are moving through thickets or thorn bush, you can get pinned in place!
If my intention is to go deep in camo, besides my clothing, gloves, face cover, hat, boots and socks, I camouflage my rifle. A few of my rifles have been painted or dipped in various patterns, while others are simply wrapped in camouflage tape. The cloth tape I use comes in a variety of colors and patterns, and can be removed without leaving a residue. The advantage of this approach is that it can be changes as I travel to different hunting grounds: I’ve used the same rifle in grasslands, forest, and snow by simply switching out the tape. Often, I’ll only tape the barrel and forestock, which gives enough coverage and is easier to remove.
I typically wear camo when airgun hunting, as I can’t think of a time when breaking up your pattern is going to be a bad thing. I think that there are hunting applications such as squirrels, crows, turkey where it has a huge impact on success. There are other applications; night hunting, pest control in certain industrial or agricultural settings where it is less relevant. However, in any situation where camo is called for, covering your face and hands with camo face mask and gloves will pay off in the results you achieve. And it is important to remember that regardless of what you are wearing, the successful hunter will move slowly, refrain from extraneous movement, and use natural cover, the shadows, and the wind to their advantage. Nothing you wear will be as important as honing your field craft, but together they will allow you to up your game!