How to Create Cover and Concealment While Stalking

man in brown jacket and black pants sitting on brown grass field during daytime

Stalking game animals requires hunters to be stealthy, patient, and strategic. An essential part of successful stalking is utilizing cover and concealment to remain hidden from your quarry. With proper techniques, hunters can blend into the environment and sneak up on their target undetected. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about creating effective cover and concealment while stalking game.

Key Point:

  • Assess your surroundings and identify cover before beginning a stalk
  • Use natural landscapes and vegetation to remain concealed
  • Adjust movement based on terrain to minimize noise
  • Properly camouflage yourself with gear and clothing
  • Remain downwind of animals to prevent scent detection
  • Be patient, slow, and methodical when moving and observing

Understanding the Basics of Cover and Concealment

Cover and concealment serve different but equally important purposes when stalking game:

  • Cover blocks you from view to prevent visual detection. Natural cover includes terrain, vegetation, rocks, etc.
  • Concealment hides you from observation. Camouflage clothing and correct stalking techniques provide concealment.

Effective stalking integrates both cover and concealment. You must remain hidden from sight, sound, and scent to get within range of your quarry undetected. Choosing proper gear, moving carefully, and utilizing the landscape will help you create adequate cover and concealment.

Why Stay Concealed?

Concealing yourself while stalking gives you a critical advantage as a hunter:

  • Prevents animals from fleeing before you’re in range
  • Allows you to observe animal behaviors undisturbed
  • Gets you closer to game for a clean, ethical kill
  • Provides time to properly evaluate the situation
  • Keeps you hidden from dangerous animals if necessary

Remaining concealed and using cover while stalking takes patience and awareness. But mastering these techniques will lead to better shots and more success.

brown dried leaves on ground during daytime

Identifying Natural Cover and Concealment

The natural landscape around you offers plenty of concealment options if used correctly. Here are common sources of cover and concealment to utilize:

Terrain Features: Hilly areas with ridges and draws provide cover when cresting hilltops. Gullies and washes also conceal movements. Use changes in elevation to stay hidden.

Vegetation: Bushes, tall grass, and trees naturally conceal while providing shade and shadow. Position yourself behind foliage.

Rocks and Boulders: Use large rocks and boulder fields to obstruct vision and hide your silhouette.

Downed Logs: Fallen trees and branches hide movement and break up outlines. Duck behind them when possible.

Shadows: Position yourself in shaded areas and move between sunny patches. Shadows make you far less visible.

Man-Made Structures: Use buildings, walls, fences or other structures to Obstruct line of sight.

Be aware of your surroundings and utilize any cover sources available while stalking. Choose a concealed route that provides protection.

Choosing a Concealed Route

  • Identify terrain features, vegetation, and other cover options.
  • Plot a path between cover that minimizes your exposure.
  • Favor high ground to observe from cover.
  • Use ravines or gullies to stay hidden in low areas.
  • Cross open areas quickly and directly if necessary.
  • Pause and observe from cover frequently.

Picking a concealed stalking route requires patience and map reading skills. But keeping hidden is vital for getting within range undetected.

Utilizing Man-Made Cover and Concealment

In addition to natural cover, man-made materials can also help you remain concealed:

Camouflage Netting: Net suits and mesh sheets blend into vegetation when properly arranged. Drape over yourself or your gear.

Portable Blinds: Pop-up and hub-style blinds provide instant concealment and shield scent. Choose an elevated blind location with a view.

Camo Face Paint: Facial camo breaks up features and prevents glare. Apply paint in an irregular splotchy pattern.

Suppressors: Sound suppressors for firearms drastically reduce muzzle blast to help conceal your position. Use subsonic ammo as well.

Scent Eliminators: Sprays and soaps reduce human odor that can alarm game. Cover all exposed skin and gear when applying.

Ghillie Suits: Intricate camo suits adorned with burlap strips mimic foliage to conceal. Effective but more expensive option.

With man-made gear, focus more on concealment from scent and sound over full visual obstruction. Proper natural cover should already prevent visual detection.

Man Wearing Camo Jumper Photographing Nature

How to Create Cover and Concealment in the Field

You won’t always have access to commercial camo gear while out in the field. But you can still create concealment using common natural materials:

Leafy Vegetation: Gather leafy branches, grasses, and shrubs to break up outlines. Avoid disturbed vegetation that appears unnatural.

Dirt and Mud: Apply mud or charcoal to exposed skin for an instant facial camo. Also reduces glare.

Snow: Gather snow in winter and apply to clothing and gear to blend into the landscape. Pack snow against objects to obscure shape.

Burlap: Tie strips of burlap to your clothing or hat to mimic vegetation. Works well on netting or mesh as well.

Tree Bark: Attach pieces of bark to clothing or gear using bailing wire to recreate natural patterns and textures.

With minimal tools, hunters can craft concealment from surrounding plant life or debris. But homemade camo won’t block scent, requiring smart positioning downwind.

Strategies for Stalking in Open Terrain

Stalking through open areas with sparse vegetation poses challenges for concealment:

Remain Lower: Crawl or crouch to reduce silhouette. Use slight dips or rises in terrain.

Be Still: Moving draws the eye. Freeze and observe from cover when possible.

Utilize Shadows: Stay in shade and move between sunlight patches to avoid glare.

Elevate Position: Higher vantage points allow you to see over vegetation and scan ahead.

Limit Skyline Exposure: Avoid cresting rises completely when possible to prevent skylining.

Plan Precise Movements: Carefully calculate each movement and pause before proceeding.

With wide visibility, open terrain requires flawless concealment and very slow methodical movement between any cover available. Patience and precision are vital.

Strategies for Stalking in Forested Areas

Heavily vegetated forests provide ample concealment but also challenges:

Use Downed Trees: Fallen logs provide cover and allow you to cross open stretches while hidden.

Hug Tree Lines: Move along the edge of open areas near trees for quick concealment.

Stay Low: Remain crouched to avoid silhouetting yourself above the underbrush.

Watch for Obstacles: Fallen branches and thick vegetation make noise if bumped. Step carefully.

Utilize Sight Lines: Peer through vegetation when possible as you move instead of fully stepping out.

Look Up: Scan for branches before moving to avoid rustling and snapping.

Forested areas provide reliable natural cover but moving quietly is difficult. Slow calculated movements and watching footing prevents noisy mistakes.

Strategies for Stalking in Urban Areas

Stalking in urban settings requires different concealment tactics:

Use Vehicles: Vehicles and concrete barriers provide instant obstruction from observation.

Enter Buildings: Move between indoor locations for concealment with permission and safely.

Limit Exposure: Cross streets quickly and directly. Stay away from open areas.

Blend In: Match pace and appearance of pedestrians. Remain casual.

Shadow Locals: Follow behind groups of people moving the same direction.

Pick Busier Areas: More people and activity help conceal your presence.

Urban camouflage requires looking like an ordinary pedestrian. Remain patient near crowds.

Strategies for Stalking in Desert Areas

Sparse desert vegetation makes concealment difficult:

Use Sagebrush and Cacti: Take advantage of any desert plants available for cover.

Follow Dry Washes: Use depressions and erosion ditches to hide movements.

Limit Dust: Avoid kicking up dust clouds that can reveal position from a distance.

Stay Lower: Reduce silhouette by crouching or crawling over rises.

Watch the Sun: Avoid casting a long shadow if stalking when sunny.

Use Decoys: Draw animal attention away from your approach.

With little natural concealment, desert stalking relies heavily on choosing a concealed approach and moving slowly between any available cover.

Strategies for Stalking in Mountainous Areas

Rugged vertical mountain terrain provides opportunities for concealment:

Use Ridges: Follow along ridge tops to avoid skyline exposure. Move low over crests.

Pick Routes Carefully: Choose paths that utilize ravines and draws to stay hidden on ascents.

Watch Noise: Rockslides and loose scree can reveal position. Step lightly.

Range Ahead: Glass the area for obstacles and target location from behind cover first.

Stay Mobile: Always seek new cover as you move. Don’t remain stationary.

Use Blinds: Portable blinds placed ahead of time provide concealment.

The pronounced terrain contours allow for concealed routes. But the steep slopes require conditioning and route planning to stalk quietly and avoid dislodging debris.

two men's inside forest

Tips for Maintaining Cover and Concealment While Stalking

Here are some additional tips for preserving concealment during your stalk:

  • Remain patient and methodical. Resist rushing.
  • Scan and observe from cover before moving.
  • Camouflage exposed skin and gear.
  • Step lightly heel-to-toe to muffle sound.
  • Favor routes shaded from the sun.
  • Keep movements smooth and controlled.
  • Stay downwind of your target.
  • Use a decoy to draw attention away.
  • Don’t stalk when excessively dry or windy.

Proper gear, strategic route selection, stealthy movement, and environmental awareness are key to maintaining effective concealment over the duration of your stalk for the best chances of success.


Creating effective cover and concealment is crucial to get within range of game animals undetected when stalking. Assess your surroundings for natural cover such as vegetation, rocks, and changes in terrain. Use camo clothing, face paint, and suppressors to enhance concealment. Move slowly and methodically between cover while remaining downwind. With practice, hunters can disappear into the environment and move unnoticed towards their quarry. Remember that proper preparation, patience, and completely masking your presence from sight, sound and scent are the keys to success when creating cover and concealment while stalking.