Making your own ghillie suit

by Steve Galea | September 18, 2023

It’s every hunter’s dream to be so well concealed that they are virtually invisible to their prey.

Modern camo patterns certainly go a long way towards that but, if you want to get all the way there, try a good old-fashioned ghillie suit. A ghillie suit, generally speaking, is an outfit (pants, jacket, and hat) that has pieces of loose cloth, jute, or burlap attached to it so that every surface is covered. Those pieces are chosen or coloured to blend in with their surroundings. Some ghillie suits also have tie-in points where bits of local shrubbery can be attached.

Originally invented by Scottish gamekeepers for hunting, ghillie suits are now associated with military snipers who use them routinely in the field. I made my own ghillie suit a few years ago. On its first use during turkey season, I saw what all the fuss was about. Moments after setting up in the open early season woods, I watched a nice gobbler come straight to me. Though I felt totally exposed, it never knew I was there until it was too late. Since then, I have watched all manner of oblivious animals pass unexpectedly close while wearing the suit, including several deer.

How to make it

  1. Find a base layer: an old camo jacket, pants, and hat
  2. Buy burlap sheets or jute twine. How much you need is a trial-and-error thing. I had to go back to the garden centre twice until I had enough.
  3. Separate the fibres from the burlap sheet or twine to create many bundles of fibre, all a half-inch to an inch in diameter and 12 to 18 inches long. (Do this outside.)
  4. Either cut tie-in points (so they look like belt loops) in your base layer or use adhesive (like Shoo Goo) to glue on an old fishing net tightly to the parts of the suit.
  5. Grab the bundles of burlap and attach them to the slits or fishing net using tight overhand knots. Start from the bottom of the garment and work your way up until all the suit is covered.
  6. Try it on. Have someone take photos from all angles and ensure there are no bare spots. Cut fibres that inhibit movement or are potential trip hazards.
  7. Spray paint with colours to match the season or surroundings you will use them in, if desired.

Originally published in Ontario OUT of DOORS’ 2022-2023 Hunting Annual 

Click here for more outdoors news

Sign up for our mailing list

indicates required
Email format