Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Making a Ghillie Hat

There IS a guy in a Ghillie suit in this picture.
If you have a hide for your body, a hood's all you need.

If you’re thinking of taking up wildlife photography, hunting, paintball or bird-watching, you’re going to need an easy method of camouflage. Oh, sure you can buy camouflage clothes down at Wal-Mart or a sporting goods place. Some even carry special patterns designed to match the local flora.  A little camo face paint and you’ll be hard to see for sure. For total concealment, however, nothing beats a Ghillie suit.

The Ghillie suit, developed by military snipers as a portable form of concealment, helps you blend indistinguishably into the terrain.  Ghillie suits are basically net covered outfits with strips of rope and rag tied to the nets. You’re basically dressing up like a big bush.

Ghillie suits aren’t the most pleasant of outfits to wear. They’re heavy, bulky and complicated to put on.  If you’re looking for a little extra to dress up your hiding place, a Ghillie hat might be the best thing for you.  Here’s how to make one.


Get a large floppy canvas hat and a circle of nylon or poly blend netting about six feet across and a natural Earth tone color.  Get a large needle and some clear or green monofilament fishing line. You’ll also need a little clear glue or hot glue. You’ll need strips of twine, jute and earth colored cloth so that you have a mixture of textures and thicknesses. Strips of an old camouflaged shirt work great for the cloth strips.

Assembling the Parts

  1. Cut the nylon netting so that it covers the hat and hangs down one to three feet over the edge of the hat brim as far as you wish.
  2. Lay the netting over the crown of the hat so the edges stick out. Add a touch of glue wherever the net touches the edge of the brim or the crown of the hat.
  3. Once the glue sets, stitch the net at all the glue points. To secure the net to the hat.
  4. Start at the outside edges of the net along what will be the bottom of the net.  Tie the strips of cloth, rope and twine along the first row of netting along the outside.
  5. Keep tying around the base, working your way up row by row. Alternate the cloth strips with twine and small bits of rope. The added upper layers will lay on top of the lower layers like a hay pile or brush heap.
  6. Use simple knots so you can untie them if you need to change the texture or colors in order to adapt your hat to different types of terrain.
  7. Work your way to the top of the net, adding layers to give the hat/hood a shaggy appearance.
  8. Spread out the ties that will be in front of your face to make it easier for you to see through the hood. You want enough strips to keep your face concealed without blocking your vision.  Remember you will be walking around in this rig on rough terrain. You need to see well enough that you won’t fall off a cliff or something.
  9. When you’re done, set the hat on a stick with the rags and ropes hanging down. Spray the outside of the hood camouflage colored spray paint. Use long erratic strokes, not heavy, but just thick enough to shade the strips.
  10. Let the paint dry, then season the hood.  Do this by leaving it outdoors for several days. A rainstorm would help remove the shine and smell. Drag it around in the grass and dirt, toss it in a lake, then hang it out to dry.  You have to remove the new smells and man odor.  The whole rig should smell musty like the woods.
Shorter strands give you a wig like effect for a lighter hood.

To wear the hat, just slip the net over your head and settle the hat on your head.  When you find a hiding place, squat down so your feet are concealed. Stop moving. Moving will give you away.

The hood will help the part of you that’s sticking up and looking around (your head) remain invisible to passing animals, birds and people. The net also allows you to stick branches and leafy fronds into the netting to increase the bush effect and conceal your big old punkin’ head under there.  Keep an eye out when walking to your hide for sticks and leaves and stuff that will improve your disguise and stick them into the netting.

When you’re going out, stick a roll of twine in your pocket so you can tie on things you find. Use a simple overhand knot so it’s easy to remove anything you tie on.

A Ghillie hat is a lot of fun and very useful for observing nature unobtrusively.


1 comment:

  1. I think this post is awesome. The idea for a Ghillie hat is great for hunting, and also for airsoft. I hunt so I am going to see about making it. Thanks for the post!