Best Camo Patterns for Every Season

When shopping for camouflage, it’s hard to resist the bargain area where camos are sold for less than retail. Usually, the camos featured in the clearance section are out of season. However, some hunters will jump at the chance to save on camouflage and wear it in the woods – regardless of season. Some hunters will even go as far as mismatching their camos with many different seasons in one outfit. While they may have saved a few dollars, they might have ruined their chance to catch a buck, which can be a much bigger loss in the big scheme of things. Why, you ask? Despite what people will try to tell you, camo patterns matter, especially when hunting whitetail deer.

Why Does Camo Pattern Matter so Much?

You don’t have to take our word for it, or anyone else’s just evaluate the science. Whitetail deer have one focus in life, and that is to survive. Scientists have told us that whitetail deer have 2 cone cell eyes. What this means is they don’t see the same way other animals or humans see.

Due to the way their eye is created, deer don’t see the colors yellow or red very well. Instead, they mostly see all colors in shades of yellow or blue with some shades of green. While their sight is somewhat limited, deer see the best in low light, which mostly includes sunrise and sunset.

Deer are also known to have great eyesight right after fresh snow hits the ground. While deer don’t usually see colors, they do have pretty clear vision. In fact, a deer’s eye can dilate anywhere from 7mm to 8mm. In comparison, a normal human eye can only dilate to a maximum of 8mm.

You’re probably catching on by now and realize that deer’s eyesight and changing foliage has a great deal to do with camo patterns. Basically, if you get caught wearing the wrong camo at the wrong time of day or season, your chances of killing a buck are based more on prayer than talent or planning. To avoid being caught unprepared, you need to know what camo patterns are best for which season.

Preferable Early Season Camo Patterns

In most states, early bow season for whitetail starts towards the end of September. Usually, the trees and grass are still pretty green at this time. This is a good thing for hunters because they can opt for their trusty green patterned camouflage.

Everything in the woods is pretty green, so a deer isn’t going to immediately notice you covered in a green pattern stalking him from the woods. However, as the trees begin to shed their leaves and the grass loses its bright green luster, you need to rethink the color of your camos if you want to go undetected.

Wear Broken Green Camos in Fall

Once the trees have changed color, you need to change the color of your camos. Since the area around you isn’t bright green anymore, you don’t want to appear that way to deer. Shades of green are easy for deer to see, especially when everything around you is changing.

You might think you can get away with wearing bright green camos if you’re sitting in a treestand, but that simply isn’t true. The only way a deer might not notice your green camo in a tree is if you’re sitting in an evergreen. Otherwise, if a deer catches a glimpse of you in the tree, you’ll look more like a blob sitting in a tree instead a part of the tree.

Since deer are engineered to focus on survival, the simple presence of a odd blob in a tree might be enough to spook them. And once deer runs, they’re sure to spook all their friends.

Instead, fall deer hunters should opt for a broken pattern. A broken pattern has a duller brown and green color with hints of orange and rustic changes, which will help you stay hidden in the woods.

Late Fall – Stick with Fall Camos

Luckily, you don’t need camos for every season. As long as there isn’t any snow on the ground yet, you can wear the same camos in late fall as you did when the trees first began to change. The only exception to this rule is right after it snows.

Don’t Cloak Yourself in White After it Snows

Many hunters want to cloak themselves in white camo patterns after the first snow. We understand the logic, but you have to remember that deer see extremely well after fresh snow hits the ground.

Instead of opting for an all white approach, hunters should try to wear camouflage with broken patterns. It’s important to avoid solid white, or other solid dark clothing. By wearing broken patterns in the winter, you’ll be harder to see and won’t spook deer as you climb into and out of your treestand.

Now you know why there are so many hunting camo patterns on the market. Not all are created the same nor do they all deliver the same results. Instead, each is unique and it’s up to you to decide which color or pattern is right for your area. No matter what color, shade, or pattern you choose, it’s important to keep the following information in mind.

Make sure your hunting packs match your camo (so they won’t give you away)
Never wash camos in a laundry detergent that uses UV brightening agents (it will make any camo easier for deer to see)
If something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to change it

Now that you know why camo patterns are important to the success of your hunt, you’re ready to go shopping. You no longer have to fear the bargain section. Just remember if you’re buying out of season camos at a discounted price, it’s important to keep those in the closet to the following year. It’s a bunch cheaper to buy new camos for every season then it will be to stock your freezer with meat for the winter if you lose out on a buck because you wore the wrong gear hunting.

Author: Brandon Cox from the StayHunting blog.


  1. Deer mostly see movement. Move and you’ll be spotted. Camo, florescent orange or buck naked they never, ever ignore movement within 100 yds. or so – like stalking. Now I’m sure there’s guys out there that can stalk a whitetail and get within a few feet, especially if it’s out of season and the deer’s a pet but I’ve never met one.

    • Truth

    • Movement and breaking patterns up, essential – great article

    • art smith says:

      photos please

    • Et, I did stalk a deer in my youth once just to see how close I could get. I used the heel toe technique and kept a tree between the deer and I. I made the mistake of keeping an eye on the deer and not watching where I was going. I made it almost to the tree which was 20 yards to the deer, but I walked into a spider web of communal spiders. Rare they say,the web was attached to a vine. I had spiders in my eyes,mouth and nose. Little spiders but spiders none the less.I remember the sound of the deer running to this day. Lol

    • True, we’ve never met, Expat, but I’m one of those who does stalk to within inches of deer while hunting.

      I agree with the ‘movment’ aspect, but deer will smell and hear you much more quickly than they’ll see you. Imagine an animal that can hear a watch tick at fifty yards and you will have a better understanding of sound in the wild.

      For those who wear ‘safety/blaze orange’ (some states require it, obviously), I’d recommend taking a black and white picture of themselves wearing their clothing: the ‘blaze orange’ will appear white as snow. Deer are atuned to their environment much more than common man is to his, and anything different in their environment will alert them to possible danger.

      As for the article authors endorsement of cammo patterns, my opinion is somewhat different. I do wear the old forest pattern cammo under a ghillie suit, but do not comsider that to be the ‘end-all’ of cammo design. One friend is so poor he canot afford the purchase price of cammo clothing. But he is an outdoorsman and has no clothing one would consider ‘outlandish’, but earth tones and, of all things, much plaid/checkerboard shirts and jackets. He is also one who can stalk within touching range of a white tail. Point being: it isn’t always the clothing, it’s the skill. A skill that takes much dedicated practice to accomplish. True, all stalking skills aren’t learned during a hunting season, so many deer have been stalked ‘out of season’– but that’s how it’s learned, and deer are just as alert in June as October, so there’s no reason to denigrate someone who does it.

  2. And don’t forget regional variations. Anything that looks like trees will stick out like a blob in west Texas and many areas of other western states

  3. Where I live, you need multiple camo patterns. 50 miles in a different direction means an almost a complete change in camo. South and East you are looking at more of a desert/sage camo. North and West it is more traditional evergreen. Then there is Winter camo.

  4. BS another sales tactic lie. I have sat on the ground and in stands in bluejeans and a damn white tee shirt and have shot many deer. I have sat in stands and have been smoking a cigarette and shot deer. Good lord the shit people buy into! The more you actually open your eyes the more bs you see all around you.

  5. Chuck Findlay says:

    I’ve seen guys go out and successfully get a deer every season (and a few out of season, can you say “crop damage”?) with just a checkered shirt and a earth toned set of pants.

    I’m by no means an expert as I have only been deer hunting 4 times in my life. But I think it’s more about movement.

    And I think I read (a few times) that deer don’t normally look up into trees so a tree stand is a good way to hunt them.

  6. I never realized there was so much to camo. I did know there was green and desert camo for the military. In movies I have seen the solid white against snow. I doubt most of the people I see in camo ever wander out of their own yard.

  7. j.r. guerra in south tx. says:

    There are many that feel that the detergent you use to wash your clothes is a big factor in how game animals can see you, even with camoflauged pattern clothing. Personally, I agree with the ‘movement over pattern’ thoughts above. People who stay motionless are far less likely to scare or attract the attention of an animal or person. The silhouette of a person too is easier to see vs. a person who is partially concealed by growth around them.

    Very interesting post – thank you for writing it.

  8. I think those that use laundry detergents with scents might as well stay home. I’ve hunted all across the country, in jeans, cords, and all different types of camo. The two things that consistently get me busted are 1) movement and 2) noise. I have hunted on the ground, in stands, stalked etc. Now that I’m older I prefer the tree stand, however the deer do learn where stands are located after 1 – 3 seasons if not rotated, they will come out, look at the stand and if they see a person, go back into the woods. We have our stands setup year around on private property. Some of the deer have learned where certain killing zones are and avoid them. When deer are in the rut they seem to move around more or rather get chased into different areas, and are not aware of our stands. We see many deer, and let most walk, we want 1-2 for the freezer. After the larder is secured we than hunt for bigger bucks and just spend time in the woods.

  9. So, what’s the best camo for the political season?

  10. Jim Watkins says:

    I agree-keep camouflage simple. Before fashionable
    outdoorsmen wore normal clothing. Usually an outfit of base
    color helped in a hunt. Wear base brown, olive or dark green,
    animals will walk right up to you in the wilderness-do not move!
    OK-modern camo works too but watch the season. During fall
    in the northern mountain forest region Swiss Alpen-flage is a
    superb pattern. Winter and snow remains obvious. In my thousands of miles in the wilderness North Cascades, I have had
    deer walk up quietly and take a lick of peanut-butter. Gave the
    animals a pet more than once. No-killl’ ate lots of trout.

  11. Son of Liberty says:

    This is, as has been said previously, is (partially) utter nonsense. In some situations it MIGHT be correct, but generally speaking – not generally correct.

    I recall bow hunting in IA, was on a limb in my coveralls of a vastly different solid color (off color brown) than the tree trunk/limbs (dark brown) I was standing on and three deer passed within 15 yards of me without ever noticing. Even after the shot they stopped, looked around as if to say – ‘What was that?’ (A small twig had deflected the arrow about three yards from them).

    Other times (rifle hunting) in PA we placed hunters on straw bales (seating) and a nice open fire to keep warm within 50 yards of deer trails. They will stick on those trails come hades or high water. ‘Drivers’ will move through the woods and (essentially) drive the deer past the waiting hunter who ambushes them while sitting in the open.

    This article is probably most applicable to the bow hunting still hunter. Otherwise – not so much.


    Son of Liberty

    • Chuck Findlay says:

      I was duck hunting once and a deer walked right in front of me. It was 3-ft away, I did not move or make a sound. I kept thinking if I startle him I could end up with one of those horns stuck in me.

      I waited till he moved 15-feet away and moved a bit. He looked at me and just walked off, not ran away.

      It was actually scary sitting there looking at those antlers close enough to reach out and touch, or have them touch me.

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