One of the biggest mistakes hunters make with camo face paint is applying it like a girl. You’ve probably watched your sister, wife, or girlfriend put on makeup in front of a mirror. Women put their makeup on symmetrically – ever see a good looking woman wearing eye shadow on just one side of her face? You won’t, but for camouflaging your face as a hunter, symmetry is not something you want to practice.
The key to making your face disappear is to hide the fact that it’s a face. Too many hunters use camo face paint (camo creams, paints, and color sticks) to color their faces even on each side or one solid color which is also a mistake. Turkeys have some of the sharpest eyes in the woods and they know the shape of a human face no matter what color it is.
To use camo face paint correctly, picture the profile of a human face like an architect or engineer would – as a 3-dimensional image. Notice the facial areas that stick out – the most forward parts.
You want to make these areas not stick out because you want to make your face appear flat so you paint them a dark color. The areas that don’t stick out, such as the spot under your nose, under your bottom lip, and under your eyes – are the parts that you want to bring forward with lighter colors.
The key is asymmetry. No matter what you do on the right side of your face, do it differently on the left side.
Start with these 6 steps:
1. Cover your right eyebrow (not just the hairy part, the whole protruding part) with black. Now on the left side, make a similar area of black, but make it slightly different by skewing it at about a 30-degree angle, making it half as wide, or a little longer. Get the same result buy aim for not matching the first one.
2. Cover the left side of your nose with black, but don’t make it an even half-nose shape; smear the black down under your nose, and smear it out about an inch onto your left cheek just to break up the shape.
Now fill in the right side of your nose with a dark green and smear it to break up the shape but not exactly the same as you did on the left side. You can even add a small black shape onto the green side for a more camo look. Your nose no longer has a “nose shape.”
3. Cover about 2/3 of your chin with black, but don’t do it smack in the middle – make an area of about 2 by 2 inches, but offset it over to the right so it’s not symmetrical with the rest of your face – it’s not centered under your mouth. Make another area of about 1-3 inches on the left side of your chin using a gray or brown color, and just follow around the edge of the first black patch you made on the right side of your chin. Your chin is covered but it’s not at all symmetrical under your mouth.
4. Your eyes are perhaps the most critical part of your face when you have prey scanning the area for predators, so take this slow and careful. On your right eye, cover the outside half of your upper eyelid with brown, smearing it up to where it meets the black you first put over your eyebrow. Shoot for a brown area of about 1-3 inches or so, extending out past the outer edge of your eye and including a small area under your eye. Around that brown area, put in two or three little patches of green, about a half inch in diameter each in the form of streaks, blotches, or stripes. Then do the outside of your left eye, but make a green area first instead of brown.
Make certain that the shape of this green area in no way matches the brown area on your right eye. Make it longer, shorter, bigger, or smaller, just so it’s different. Then go around that green area with two or three little patches of brown or gray, like you did with the right eye, and make sure they don’t match up. Put the left gray patch higher than the right green patch, for example, or make it bigger or smaller.
5. Now you color in some thin stripes or streaks using the same theory as above. Make sure you do it randomly and not symmetrically. Put a long brown stripe from the outer edge of your right eyebrow back toward your ear. Make a short gray stripe from the corner of your left nostril right across your mouth. Draw in a brown streak from your right nostril down past the edge of your mouth to under your jaw. Don’t make perfectly straight lines – make them wobble or wavy across your skin, the same way the shadow of a twig is wavy across the forest floor. Get in about 8 stripes, with at least 3 colors, and make them of varying widths and lengths, and make sure the left and right sides of your face do not match up.
6. Fill in the rest of your face, all along the hairline, your ears, and down your neck to at least 2 inches below your t-shirt line. Follow the same procedure you’ve been doing – do something on one side of your face, then match it up (or un-match it up) on the other side of your face. Don’t use the same shape repeatedly, like 1-inch squares or 3-inch bands. Mix it up. A large area (like 3 by 4 inches of green) won’t hurt, just make sure the other side of your face doesn’t have a matching area of 3-4 inches.
Remember, it’s important to put dark colors on features that stick out – especially the tip of your nose, your chin, and your eyebrows. Put lighter colors such as pale green and gray on the parts of your face that don’t stick out – under your nose, under your chin, under your eyes. It’s important to use a variety of shapes – stripes, little patches, long streaks – and this holds true no matter what habitat you’re hunting in. But the number one key to disappearing is to make your face asymmetrical.
A turkey that can’t see your face is less likely to evade you
Make your face not look like a face and you’ve boosted your chances of not being spotted by a wary turkey. Anything you can do to reduce your visibility and increase your invisibility boosts your chances of success.
Pay attention to the details and don’t make mistakes on your camo. A fine strutting tom that looks for a human face and doesn’t see yours is more likely to be the tom you take home this season.