Big game and predator hunters tend to spend a lot of money on camouflage clothing. Certain camo patterns have an almost cult-like following. Many points are often debated about camouflage: which pattern is best, must the pattern match the surroundings perfectly, and even whether using camouflage is a complete waste of time. Most deer and predator hunters will agree that movement, or lack thereof, is far more important than the perfect camo. Paying attention to the wind and where the scent is going is also more critical than the latest camouflage pattern. All of this said, if you are a hunter who wants to help your chances, you will want to wear camo. If you want to optimize your camouflage you might consider a ghillie.
Ghillie suits were invented long ago by Scottish gamekeepers to serve as a sort of portable blind. Ghillies take camouflage a step further by using three dimensions to create shadows and texture to conceal the hunter. Taken to the extreme, natural vegetation from the surrounding area is added to the suit to make the hunter melt into the landscape. Military snipers have used ghillie suits to great effect to conceal themselves before and after taking a shot. Given the differences between human vision and predator vision, there is a case to be made that ghillies are unnecessary for predator hunters. That is probably true for the casual coyote hunter. But for those who measure their coyote season in weeks on stand and miles on foot, there is no such thing as excessive. Some predator hunters are so “all in” their approach is deemed overkill. Anytime I hear the words “overkill” and “coyotes” I can only think of one group: O’Neill Ops.
James O’Neill and his group of coyote killers at O’Neill Ops are ranchers and farmers first. They raise cattle and cultivate crops in South Dakota. They also kill coyotes – lots of coyotes. They see it as a way to protect their herd, and the O’Neill Ops crew will go to extremes to provide that protection. Long hikes, suppressors, long range rifles, thermal optics, and night vision are only some of what these predator hunters throw at coyotes. They have also been filming their hunts both during the day and at night. In the past five years, they have produced what are arguably the best coyote hunting videos out there To get such high-quality footage they rely on camouflage and they use ghillies.
O’Neill doesn’t do anything halfway – it’s all in or nothing. If James O’Neill isn’t farming or ranching, he is lifting weights, shooting long range, or killing coyotes. All of their gear is top tier. When O’Neill was looking for a ghillie, he approached Tactical Concealment, a manufacturer of stealth gear that services “the most advanced military, law enforcement, and special operation professionals in the world.” O’Neill Ops partnered with Tactical Concealment to design the OPS HVP (Human versus Predator) hood. They needed a ghillie that would make them disappear, but also allow them to shoot and film. Most of the time the O’Neill group shoots from the prone position, but equally as often the cameraman is seated. The OPS HVP works well for either position. The hood breaks up the human head outline and blends the hunter’s arms and shoulders into the landscape offering excellent camouflage for predator hunting.
The HVP hood is extremely well made and it will no doubt withstand many years of hard use. The base material is tough ripstop fabric and available in either white or coyote brown. The stitching and hardware are of high quality. The fit, finish, and attention to detail are outstanding. A matrix of 550 paracord covers the hood, shoulders, and top of the sleeves. Natural vegetation or jute may be attached to the paracord matrix. To ensure a custom fit there are drawstrings on the hood, sleeves, armpits, and shoulders. The chest buckle is also adjustable. The hood may be worn over bulky cold weather gear or lightweight hot weather clothes. Without vegetation, the hood weighs less than a pound and it is easy to don or remove at the truck.
For the past year, this writer has been using the HVP hood with great success. I’ve used other ghillies over the years and this one is hands down the best. It’s short enough to not get caught on fences and big enough to provide effective concealment. Coyotes just don’t seem to see me and when they do they don’t seem to care. One hard-charging coyote nearly ran me over on a stand and veered off just a few paces away when I stood up. Many other coyotes have stared right at me not knowing what I was, even after I had moved. In my opinion, I get away with a lot more movement when I wear my HVP ghillie hood than when I don’t have it on. Multiple times I’ve spotted coyotes watching me and not leaving when I transitioned from seated to prone for a longer shot. While wearing my HVP hood I have more confidence in my stands, which always helps with focus and readiness. The O’Neill Ops HVP hood is available for $200 directly from their website.