The folks at Mossy Oak introduced their first waterfowl camo pattern back in 1986. The pattern was Bottomland and it was designed to hide hunters in the flooded timber shadows by incorporating the dark and light patterns and colors of bark and soil.
Bottomland worked great in its intended environment, but it didn’t help hunters hide as well in the grass and cattails of pond edges and fields. Mossy Oak’s design team recognized the need for a pattern that would work in these conditions and, in 1995, added blades of grass as an overlay to the Bottomland pattern to make a new pattern called Shadow Grass. Now, there was a pattern that would work in almost any waterfowl hunting environment in North America.
Over the years, the Mossy Oak team has continued to enhance and improve their waterfowl patterns. As digital imaging techniques improve, designers were able to add more detail and shadow to their patterns, giving them an almost 3D effect that broke up the human outline when viewed from any direction.
The evolution continued with improvements to Shadow Grass in both color and detail until the year 2007 when a new pattern named Duckblind was launched. Duckblind was built on a base background of true dirt colors with different tones to represent wet and dry ground. Then, elements of millet, wild oats, corn stalks, phragmites, Johnson grass, soybeans and native grasses were added. The unique shadows enhance depth, while the muted shades of brown, tan, gray and soft black work well for blending into virtually any waterfowl environment across the country.
All of this leads to today and the introduction of the new Shadow Grass Blades pattern. I asked Larry Moore, the Director of Research and Development for Mossy Oak Camo about the new pattern and what went into its design. He replied, “The development of Blades took two years of research and element collection across the entire waterfowl flyway systems. We carefully selected grass that was true to color and detail to represent any water edge or open field. Because of the success and long run of original Shadow Grass we arranged the grass blades in a similar fashion and used a natural straw like background to utilize a naturally dirty look of mashed down or repeatedly flooded grass. This created the look found in original Shadow Grass and allows the flooded timber hunter to use it as well as the field hunter.”
When I asked how they went about designing a pattern that works everywhere, Moore explained that the new Blades pattern has grass types found from Minnesota to Louisiana or California to New England. These grasses were then carefully blended into a natural reproduction of some of the photos taken on location to match a wide array of settings. The precise arrangement of individual blades of grass, whether windblown, broken or bent, onto a background of thatch consisting of lesser or dead grass creates the perfect pure grass pattern. In addition, carefully placed shadows were added to create depth and further break up the human pattern. “Blades will work anywhere you have grass and dirt and I think that is everywhere”, Moore said.
After viewing the new pattern, I think it will blend perfectly into the pond edges and fields just about anywhere ducks and geese are hunted. My biggest problem with darker waterfowl patterns is their tendency to blob out from a distance. When viewed by a high flying duck or goose, that dark blob fairly screams “hunter”. The overall light tone of the grasses blended with just enough shadow in the new Blades pattern should avoid that problem and help waterfowlers blend into just about any cover.