Last November I was invited down to Elkton, Maryland by W.L. Gore and Associates for the GORE Labs2Woods Blooger Summit. We were joined by the developers of OPTIFADE concealment to take a tour of the GORE facilities and learn about the science behind the Company’s newest product, GORE OPTIFADE Forest Concealment.
GORE OPTIFADE Concealment is changing the camouflage game in a BIG way. Unlike your typical mimicry camouflage patterns that attempt to blend you into your surroundings, OPTIFADE uses a scientifically developed pattern that prevents you from being recognized as a predator in the eyes of a deer or other ungulate (an ungulate is a hoofed animal like whitetail deer, mule deer, elk, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, moose, etc.).
There are currently two OPTIFADE patterns: Open Country and Forest. Each is designed with a specific purpose and style of hunting in mind and each pattern utilizes a macro and micro pattern to render a hunter harmless in the eyes of an ungulate. OPTIFADE Open Country was designed for the ground hunter and relies on the macro pattern to make the hunter disappear at engagement ranges of 35 yards and beyond at ground level.
GORE’s OPTIFADE Forest pattern was designed specifically for the treestand hunter and uses the micro pattern to break up the hunters outline at ranges of 20 yards or less from an elevated position (typically 15 feet off the ground).
On my trip to the W.L. GORE and Associates facilities I met Sitka Athletes, Jeff Simpson and Mark Seacat. Both hunters are well-known in the industry and had a lot of positive feedback from their experiences field testing the OPTIFADE Forest pattern.
On the second day of the trip we were given a Sitka Stratus Suit along with a set of Sitka Traverse base layers in OPTIFADE Forest and headed into the Delaware woods to bowhunt whitetail deer. As I sat in my treestand that first afternoon I heard the leaves begin to crunch as a young buck trailed a doe through the hardwood forest. The deer came within bow range several times and eventually bedded down within 30 yards of my stand.
That next morning I was back in the same stand as a small herd of doe headed back to their bedding area after a morning of feeding in the nearby crop fields. The deer milled around the stand feeding on acorns before heading off to bed for the morning. Although I had several encounters on the trip down to Delaware, it wasn’t until later that fall in my home state of New York that I put down my first deer with OPTIFADE Forest.
I was hunting my good friend Paul’s family winery from a stand along a field edge I had just set. About an hour before dark three does worked their way in stopping to check their surroundings before stepping into the field. As I sat their in my stand watching the deer just 40 yards away I couldn’t help but wonder if they were going to pick me out. The deer worked their way closer and I grabbed my bow, stood up and came to full draw. With the lead doe broadside at 20 yards I let the arrow fly and watched as the deer ran off towards Paul’s stand and dropped at the base of his tree.
Three more does fell that season while I hunted in OPTIFADE Forest, but there was one hunt in particular that stood out. It was late season, there was snow on the ground, the deer were extremely skittish and I was hunting over a small plot that I had in Connecticut. As I settled in my stand I noticed two deer bedded on the other side of the river about 500 yards away. I watched the deer get up and when it did, I did too. A few minutes later I had two deer 20 yards away from me feeding and facing directly at me. One of the deer would look up in my direction, but always went right back to feeding. It was if the deer looked right through me. At one point I remember shifting my weight in the stand that had been sitting in the tree through several snow storms when the stand made a slight pop and the deer immediately looked up at my direction – but they then went back to feeding. As the deer slowly started to shift from facing me to slightly quartering towards me I began to shift my weight and come to full draw in anticipation of a broadside shot. Unfortunately, I moved too much and the deer caught on to my excessive movement in the bare tree – nothing can save you from that. Although I didn’t get the shot, being that close to two deer after four long months of hunting pressure and having the deer look up at me and see no sign of danger several times was enough to make me a believer in OPTIFADE.
While there’s no magic formula when it comes to being a successful bowhunter I believe that every little bit you can do to put the odds in your favor helps. That’s why I bowhunt with the highest quality equipment I can afford, utilize scent elimination products and now, I always make sure I’m wearing OPTIFADE Forest. It is the science of nothing.