Need for Silence

Posted on June 15, 2012

When it comes to bowhunting, quiet gear is essential.

hunting garments

Just because a garment is advertised as being super-quiet doesn’t mean it is. You must verify this for yourself by conducting a “crinkle-and-scratch” test. It’s best to use a proven-to-be-quiet garment as a comparison for a good assessment. Treestands and backpacks are other areas of concern. Some can be loud, which can blow your cover. Be smart—test them out well before opening day.

Bowhunting is a close-range sport that calls for absolute silence in the presence of game. This means that for the bowhunter, quiet clothing is a must, not an option. If you can hear yourself rustling while moving through terrain or brushing up against bark in a treestand, any big buck will have you pegged in seconds.

Despite this rule, as well as a rather massive selection of hunting garments from which to choose today, much of what you’ll see on the market simply doesn’t pass the test. We’ve found that just because a catalog description or advertising pitch say the item is “quiet,” it doesn’t necessarily mean it is. To be certain, you must sample it for yourself, up close and personal, in a retail store. Even then, you still need to know what to look for and how to compare one garment to the next. This can sometimes be challenging.

Tips for Buying Right

Here’s what we suggest: Take one of your favorite hunting garments along with you when shopping, one that you know is super-quiet in actual hunting conditions, and use it as a comparison. Then test each garment that interests you by crinkling it, brushing it, hitting it (even with a small stick) and scratching it with your nail, all the while listening intently for sounds.

Next, try the garment on. With pants, lift and move your legs around. With shirts and jackets, lift your arms and even mimic drawing your bow. If it seems even somewhat noisy in the store, it’ll be earth-shatteringly loud in the calm, cold deer woods. If this is the case, hang it back up and keep looking.

If the store has a lot of activity in it, it would be wise to try the garment on in the dressing room. It’ll be quieter there and better for sound-testing.

Give It a Test Run

Once you buy a piece of clothing, the next step is to give it a trial run while wearing it in the woods. Wear it while scouting or during a small-game hunt. This will prove invaluable, because you’ll be in the wild and encounter the elements to truly verify the garment’s worth and function.

As a general rule, stay away from “waterproof” or “windproof” clothing, unless you hunt in the worst type of weather. On average, these garments are noisier. We prefer wool, fleece or well-brushed poly/cotton fabrics without waterproof/windproof membranes.

A lot of “waterproof” stuff tends to crinkle in cold weather. To verify silence, leave the garment outside over night and put it on the next morning while it’s still cold and possibly stiff. Then perform your test.

Notes on Other Gear

The same goes for other soft goods, such as binocular straps, rangefinder cases, backpacks and hats. Make sure each and every accessory is well tested before opening day.

With backpacks, make sure pockets offer appropriate organization of calls and accessories with zippers that are quiet. You’ll be getting in and out of stuff, so this critical. Avoid items with too much Velcro, since the constant “rip-rip” can be loud.

The same goes for your treestand: Make sure you hang yours in the backyard for several days at a time. Then check for squeaks early in the morning while the chill and dew are present. All noises must be fixed before opening day.

If you have any doubts about the quietness of your hunting gear, you should leave it at home and stick with those tried-and-true items. Remember, deer don’t care a lick about flashiness and cool-looking camo coordination; they care much more about what they hear. Learn to be silent, and you’ll bring home more game.


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