The Inexpensive Winter Ghillie Blanket
by Matthew Dermody
Winter is surely making its presence known, far sooner than I wanted; as I still have several cool weather projects that still need completion. However, late autumn and winter produce the lower temperatures that make wearing traditional ghillie suits and concealment blankets a little more bearable. The lack of insects is also another wonderful reason to celebrate the arrival of the brisk chill of winter. With snowfall soon to be blanketing the country in wonderful white tapestry, I thought I would share a very simple winter ghillie blanket, that will not only conceal you while predator and goose hunting, but will actually help keep you a little warmer as well.
The simplicity of a ghillie blanket makes its construction much faster than the typical ghillie concealment attached to garments. For a winter environment blanket, the supplies and materials are even faster to assemble. The first piece of material is a standard military surplus winter snow camo sniper veil like the one pictured below. This breathable polyester netting typically measures five feet wide by eight feet long, perfectly suitable for completely concealing one average-sized person. Cost $5 - $10.
The netting is spread out on a large work table or the floor, wherever workspace is more abundant. Next, to help beat some of the effects of the wintery wind and cold, the addition of an emergency space blanket is added. These foil reflective blankets are found in most camping and outdoor stores and are almost always found in well-supplied survival stores and websites. Cost $3.
Make sure that the side that reflects body heat back to you is placed down on the mesh netting. This thin and light material will reflect your own body heat back towards you, keeping you warmer while lying still during your hunt. These blankets are also water resistant and wind-proof, which are nice features to have present when the weather decides to make a change for the worst. However, the drawback to this addition is noise. Because of the foil material, movement under the blanket and the wind rippling across it creates unnatural and unwanted noise that may spook wary predators. The reflective characteristics will also deter geese from coming into range. But have no worries, the addition of the next layer will help reduce or eliminate those concerns. If you are wanting to stalk and move around, I do not recommend the reflective blanket addition. As you move, your body will generate heat to help keep you warm, so the reflective blanket may not be desired.
Next, add a single layer of 100% polyester fleece. Two and two-thirds yards will give you a piece about 5 feet wide by eight feet long, the same size as the sniper veil netting. Cost $5 - $10 per yard. You will want to wash this material prior to attaching it to your ghillie blanket. Make sure to wash the fabric with an unscented hunter's detergent. You may also wish to treat this fabric with Atsko's UV-Killer spray that will block any of the ultraviolet fabric brighteners that remain in the fabric. White fabrics are notorious for having large amounts of UV brighteners present in them, to keep the fabric from fading and becoming dingy.
After placing the fleece on top of the reflective blanket, you should now have a three-layer snow ghillie blanket. To keep the assembly together, take an awl and poke a hole through the reflective foil blanket and the fleece from the underside, using the holes in the mesh as a guide. After making a hole, thread a plastic zip tie through the hole and cinch it tightly, cutting off the excess. Continue this procedure around the perimeter of the entire blanket. When the time comes to work your way into the interior of the blanket, you will have to put two holes in the reflective blanket and the fleece to accommodate the zip tie. Before cinching the zip tie, you may want to add scattered clumps of dried craft grass, called raffia grass, as you connect the three layers with the zip ties. This will give your ghillie blanket the appearance of dead and dormant grass poking through the fallen snow. To add to the effect, spray some flocking spray, such as Sno Blower, to give the appearance of new snowfall clinging to the grass. Cost of the cable ties, raffia grass and flocking spray, about $12.
Older snowfalls are rarely ever pure and pristine white. To mimic this, take a couple of charcoal briquets and crush them into a medium-fine powder. After crushing, from a distance of five to seven feet, broadcast small pinches across the blanket. Charcoal will help absorb odor and provide a small amount of scent control for those using a ghillie blanket for predator hunting.
If you purchase the materials when they are on sale, your total price tag is under $50 for the perfect winter concealment. Feel free to upload your photos of your ghillie creations and comment on this and other blog posts. Thanks for reading and may you have hidden success!