By Mark Fike
Years ago I came across one of the first leafy suits that was available to hunters. I was doing gear reviews for a publication I was writing for at the time and I don’t even remember what company made that jacket and pants suit for archery hunting.
What I do remember is that the jacket and pants totally changed how I was able to hunt and harvest deer. I went from having to take long shots while hunting on the ground in somewhat thick cover (often having to pass shots due to dense foliage) or having to hunt from a stand to then being able to hunt on the ground and hunt deer with a crossbow and bow at ranges to within 10 short steps.
Next to wind, a hunter that hunts on the ground must have great camo. Great camo for archery hunters that are on the ground can be very tough to find. There are a lot of 3-D and leafy suits or jackets on the market.
The one I started with some 10 + years ago was a premium jacket likely well before its time. I have no idea how the company went out of business with such a great product. When it finally started falling apart after years and years of wear in some of thickest cover I could find to hunt in, I searched everywhere for a comparable replacement.
Each leafy jacket I looked at was garbage. I know that sounds blunt but it is the truth. Either the leaves were not realistic or they were not covering the jacket or pants well. Most of the jackets were so poorly made I would not have used one if it was given to me for free.
This summer I finally found a company that makes the leafy suits like they should be made. North Mountain Gear (northmountaingear.com) has a selection of leafy suits for hunters that need something that allows them to remain concealed within the terrain.
Some of the criteria I had when looking for a good leafy jacket replacement included a jacket with pockets. Second, I wanted something that had a well-made zipper. No one needs a zipper failing when in the woods.
Third, I wanted a jacket that had quality material and well-stitched seams. A jacket that I would use must have a hood for those chillier mornings or times when I was turkey hunting. I wanted a jacket that could do what my previous jacket did right up to the end; conceal me right through all the seasons.
I needed a jacket with enough realistic leaves to blend in so well a turkey would have a hard time picking me out of a hedgerow. An elastic cuff would help if I needed to pull up my sleeve to field dress a deer or if it got too hot. The colors or pattern of the camo had to be good for the terrain I was hunting in.
North Mountain Gear met all the criteria. The leaves are realistic, the seams are well done, the cuffs expand, the zipper is stout, there is good coverage of leaves, the color of the jacket I tested works extremely well for predator hunting (look out foxes raiding my chicken flock!), spring gobbler hunting and definitely for early archery season when I need some green colors to blend in.
The company has camo patterns that will work well in most applications outdoors. I have the Mossy Oak Diffusion Pullover Jacket by North Mountain Gear. Spencer Moser, the company owner, talked to me and explained that this model of jacket was personally requested by a number of turkey hunters, a Cabela’s product employee, and a NWTF instructor. I can see why. The kangaroo type pouch zips shut to keep your gear from spilling out even if you bend over. It has slash pockets too. The mesh lining keeps you cool during those warm days and this jacket, if purchased large enough, can be pulled over a lightweight hunting jacket keeping you a bit warmer on those chillier morning hunts.
I have had this jacket for several months now and have officially retired my previous jacket without hesitation. I am planning on purchasing the pants and also one of their suits with a full front zipper.
The customer service with North Mountain Gear has been first class. If every outdoor clothing company had service and attention to detail like this company, we hunters would be outfitted in a great fashion. I highly recommend this product for any archery or turkey hunters. Check them out online at www.northmountaingear.com.