How a ghillie suit can provide the ultimate in camouflage when hunting
PUBLISHED: 14:43 17 July 2019 | UPDATED: 14:43 17 July 2019
Eddie Jones reveals how using a ghillie suit can provide the ultimate in camouflage
Today, I fancied a couple of hours out, just for the chance to have a session using the Jack Pyke LLCS ghillie suits that I have. They're not something I would wear when walking around farms, but for woodland and grass fields shooting, they come into their own because they blend in perfectly with the surroundings. This wasn't a day when I wasn't setting out to shoot, particularly, more a test to see how well I could get both patterns to work at this time of year.
As I drove up to the wood, I noticed a good number of pigeons flying in after their afternoon feed, so I had tried to park further down the track than I normally do because I didn't want to spook them as I got out of the car. I was going to shoot in the wood so I wore the English Oak pattern first. This time of year, you would think the English Woodland green would work better because the trees are well covered with foliage, but the wood floor is still pretty dark with all the fallen dead leaves, so the darker suit blended in better; there is also plenty of shade in the trees to use to your advantage, and these suits certainly give you the edge.
They're made up of lightweight mesh, which then has 3D leaves stitched into it. Couple this with the matching head net, hat and gloves, and you've got the ultimate concealment clothing on the market, in my opinion.
Plan a route
Shooting pigeons at any time of the year is hard for the air rifle hunter because these birds have the best eyesight of any of the pest species we hunt. In the autumn and winter, we get a chance to see the pigeons from a good distance away and this gives us an edge because we can then plan a route to get as close as possible, but in late spring and summer. we certainly lose any edge we had. I know I scare 97% of the pigeons away before I even know they are there because of the tree cover. This is where the LLCS suit gives us the edge over the remaining 3% and allows us to feel that we have accomplished our ultimate goal of outwitting the pigeon, and succeeding in the clean shot we strive for every time we pull the trigger. When decoying pigeons, the tables turn a little more in our favour, but when walking around the grounds we need to be at our best.
The Galahad FAC was my chosen weapon because I think it gives me full confidence of killing the pigeon outright if I need to take a heart shot, and I started to head to the trees where I had seen the pigeons fly in. I walked like a snail for ages and no matter how careful I was, or how hard I looked in the canopy, I was always second best.
This is when I miss the thermal imager. I can see the pigeons easily in the treetops with that, and my success rate is 40% higher, at least, but without it I was struggling. It was time to hide behind some small trees so that if any pigeons returned, at least I would see them first, Standing quietly also gave me a chance to see what else was running around, for future shoots here.
It was a good half an hour before I saw a pigeon come in. It lifted from the rape field, headed straight for me and landed in a nice clear part of the tree. I had the Galahad ready in the shoulder so there would be hardly any movement, but I waited before the shot because I wanted to see if there was any chance that the pigeon could see me. Five minutes later, I decided there was no way it knew I was there, and it proved to me how good the LLCS was working. I didn't have the best cover because the trees were quite thin and still gave the pigeon enough of me to see, but I dispatched the pigeon cleanly and got my reward. I wanted to stay longer, but whilst I was standing waiting I'd noticed a couple of young rabbits out further along the treeline, so I set off after them.
The rabbits I'd spotted had returned to the warren just before I set off, but I knew they would be back out, or some other of their family would be, so I got myself tucked under some branches and waited. I had only been waiting for 15 minutes when a small rabbit appeared. It was smaller than the two I had seen earlier, so I decided to wait and hope for a bigger one to come out. The small rabbit was still causing damage in the wood, but I wanted one for the pot, so I waited. After ten minutes, I had four young rabbits of different ages in front of me. They were coming within ten feet at times, whilst they were playing and I was well impressed that they didn't have a clue I was there - even very small rabbits can sense something is wrong. Eventually, a larger rabbit came out to join the youngsters, but I didn't give her the chance to see me. I was lying on thorns, and I took the shot quickly so I could get up. She was a nice clean doe, and perfect for a dinner.
I changed over to the Woodland Green LLCS suit. I'd seen a few pigeons feeding on the rape, pretty close to the fence line. Over the winter, they had hit this hard and it was pretty low, so I could get a clear shot if anything was still there. I didn't have a lot of cover to work with, apart from the odd tree and nettles, but I got within 70 yards of where the main group was feeding. I did not want to push my luck with so many eyes keeping watch, so I settled where I was. I knew I was quite close to the flight line and this would give a pretty good indication of how good I blended in with the grass and nettles. I endured watching pigeon after pigeon glide over me, and then one finally landed within range at around 40 yards away, quite happy to feed after it had looked for danger. I was worried that the Galahad would give me away out in the open, but fortunately, I managed to get on aim and take my shot. It had taken a lot of effort to get such a small bag, but I know I might have not got all of those shots off if I hadn't been wearing the LLCS, and it was a rewarding session nevertheless.