The Facemask Conundrum

April 26, 2018  •  2 Comments

A quick swipe through any social media outlet during duck season will give you an often humorous glance of the three main face concealment options. In order of cleanliness they are; the traditional and easy "keep your face down" method, the "always in your way facemask" method, and the "Aztec warrior, smear facepaint all over yourself" method.  For a good laugh, I will sometimes read the comment sections of a post about which facepaint to use.  The way that the varied and emphatic ideas come across, you would think that ducks are either borderline geniuses in their reasoning abilities or are the dumbest creatures on the planet, barely able to discern friend from foe.  The crazy thing is that they are all right.

My personal preference for duck hunting is to go both facepaint-less and facemask-less. Sitting in the boat or blind all day with facepaint on takes away some level of enjoyment for me and I don't feel like my face has cost us ducks, at least not in a manner that we couldn't somehow avoid.  A facemask for duck hunting is just a big "NO" for me.  It's in the way of calling, eating, constantly getting caught on my coat, etc.  

Turkey season brings with it a change in my opinion on concealment. During the Spring I spend a lot of time in the turkey woods.  My face concealment requirements for turkey hunting are significantly different than for ducks.  The hunting situation for a turkey is so different that I feel it necessitates a different focus on complete concealment.   Two main factors really dictate the need for a facemask; the fact that we are on ground level, eye to eye with turkeys and the ability of a turkey to stop and take its time when approaching. 


Photo: 3/4 Facemask before being used


Standing in front of the available facemasks at most retailers can be fairly daunting.  A lot of options exist but most of the newer, high tech options just don't appeal to me.  A once fairly basic piece of equipment has evolved over the past ten years.  I don't think many turkey hunters were complaining about facemask options but designers kept making fancier and fancier options, eliminating the basic ones from their line.  I speak this way of the new ones with some resentment because my favorite facemask is becoming a thing of the past.  

With absolutely zero connection to this company, I say that the most practical turkey facemask is the HS Strut 3/4 mesh ( version.  It's one of the cheapest ones available but in this case I still think it's the best.  Before I put my vest on, after getting out of the truck in the morning, I grab my face mask and slide it on.  The mask hangs around my neck until I need it, at which point I simply pull it up and over my nose.  Almost instant deployment, it's not always in my way, and it provides the cover that I need. I know that I only have a couple of these left...typically the elastic lasts a couple of years so I replace them fairly regularly.  A quick look through Amazon and I could only find one option to buy them, so I bought half a dozen. 

Photo: 3/4 facemask in use

I like and believe in facemasks for turkey hunting.  Somewhere in this mesh material there lies a mystery, however.  Most mornings of turkey season in South Dakota are fairly cool; often in the 20s or 30s, and always windy, it seems.  Every morning when getting out of the truck and looking at my clothing heap in the back seat I am faced with the decision of how many layers to put on.   I need enough to stay warm for the first sit of the morning but not so many so I have to fill my turkey vest up with removed clothing one hour into the hunt.  In the morning, with cool temps and a light breeze, I slip my facemask around my neck and await a nice little warm up, feeling like I just put a neck gaiter on, but it never comes.  I am a big fan of neck gaiters and love keeping my neck warm when it's cool out but a mesh facemask offers no help to ward off a cool breeze.  I reposition it, trying to bulk it up right at my skin, but to not avail in maintaining any warmth.  

As the day warms up and I'm exerting some energy I usually make a stop and lose an underlayer.  It's always right at this point that I recognize how much heat my facemask has retained around my neck and in the opening of my jacket.  Somewhere throughout the morning, my facemask has developed some insulating properties but will do no such thing when I actually need it.  As the morning sun turns into afternoon heat, the wonder of the facemask really takes over and provides even more insulation with the more heat you produce.  

I have yet to figure out a solution to this perplexing problem.  I know that a heavier facemask would help for the mornings, but would be unbearable later in the day and there really is no solution of a lighter version.  I will continue the battle with my current set up; cursing it in the morning for not being warm enough, and cursing it two hours later for being too warm.

Photo: Turkey harvested in South Dakota, mid morning with facemask




I’m a light thin cheap face mask guy. My face tends to shine and I don’t like face paint and won’t wear powder makeup. However, you missed an important point for the utility of a cheap face mask. Back up toilet paper. Can’t tell you how many times it’s saved my ass. Literally. Cheers to a great blog!
Brett Beinke(non-registered)
You need to try the SA face masks that they use for saltwater fishing. They have lots of colors for fun and game. By far the best i used from warm to single digits. like a neck gaitor you just pull up when you want.
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