Build Your Own Ghillie Suit
by Justin Karnopp
The Ghillie suit is named for the old Scottish game wardens, or “Ghillies”, who first realized that by adding loose strips of cloth or twine to their clothing, they could create a three-dimensional breakup of their outline and remain undetectedin the wide-open highlands. The Ghillie suit has been the preferred camouflage of military snipers for open terrain, and many hunters are now adding one to their wardrobe for spot-and-stalk missions in terrain void of natural cover.
Pre-made Ghillie suits and kits are readily available, but many hunters find that making their own is fun, economical and yields a better product. One such hunter is Nick Rinn, a former Army sergeant who has used the suit to put the sneak on elk, deer, antelope and turkeys.
“The first thing to consider when building your suit is to settle on a one or two-piece design,” says Rinn. “I personally prefer the one-piece, but they both have advantages. The steps for making a one or two-piece suit are essentially the same. The best place to start is at your local surplus store,”
“The colors of the Ghillie suit can be modified to blend into the environment you will hunt, and you'll find that you can add more colors later. Plus, you can always dye colors to your liking if need be.,” adds Rinn.” It’s a time-consuming project, but you’ll find it’s cheaper than buying one, and the quality is much better.”
- Army green jumpsuit for a one-piece jumpsuit ($15)
Camo BDU’s (Battle Dress Uniform) for a two-piece suit ($15)
- Camo hat and bill ($7)
- Four 4-foot x 2-foot burlap sacks ($4/each) or pre-dyed 2-inch-wide burlap roles ($8/roll)
(Note-Rinn highly recommends buying burlap roles in black, brown and green, if available, as this option saves time. Otherwise, buy fabric dye in black, brown and green.)
- Camo netting (price varies)
- Shoe-goo ($6, available in the shoe department of most department stores)
- Lay your jumpsuit or camo BDU’s front side down and lay the netting on the back side. Cut the netting with scissors to match the outline of your suit (for a two-piece use two pieces of netting). On the hat the netting should hang low on the back like long hair, and just over the bill in the front.
- Attach netting to the suit with needle and thread or shoe-goo about every four to six inches in all directions, especially on the outer edges.
- If using pre-dyed roles of burlap, cut all three colors about 20 inches long. If dying the burlap yourself, cut squares about 16×16 inches. Separate the strands of burlap by holding the corner of a square and peeling three to five strands at a time and laying lengthwise in a pile. Keep repeating this until the entire square is separated into individual strands.
- Lay your suit down and take small half-inch-diameter bundles of various colors of strands and tie them to the netting in the middle of the strand using an overhand knot. Then try to pull the strands toward the bottom of the suit so all strands lay in the same direction. Evenly space out the colors and keep repeating this until the suit underneath is no longer visible. When storing or transporting your Ghillie suit, roll it up inside-out to protect the burlap strands and the netting from snagging.
- Shoot straight.