How to Camouflage your Canoe

How to Camouflage your Canoe

Posted by Drew Blake on Oct 25th 2020

From our truck floor mats and seat covers to our apparel, we as hunters are obsessed with camouflage. Camouflage is a key part in the success or failure of our hunting adventures and many hunters focus on the obvious camouflage areas of clothing and our blind/treestand, but how many of us think about our mode of transportation to your hunting location? Drew Blake, APO founder, thought about that very thing this summer and began a test project with his M-80 Creek Boat. That project went so well that he decided to tackle his Old Town Guide 147 canoe. His successes, failures, and suggestions are described below and can be applied to anything we used to get to and from the field whether it be a bike or boat.

Project Materials

Step 1: Surface Preparation

Surface preparation is the single most important part of this project or any painting project for that matter. I started this project looking at it in two parts, the outside surface and the inside. The inside of the canoe was the stock light gray color which I knew needed to be recoated with a darker color so I started with the outside first. Surface preparation was broken into four self-explanatory steps: 1) sand entire outside with 120 grit paper, 2) sand with 220 grit paper, 3) wash boat with warm soap and water, 4) apply degreaser according to directions. The same process was used for the inside and outside of the boat.

Step 2: Paint

Here comes the fun part. My advice is too start with a dark base, in my case the stock color of my canoe was hunter green, which was just dark enough to work. Starting with a dark base allows the colors to blend easier without requiring a large coverage on the first coat. Each coat was applied immediately following the prior as the coat was dried by the time I finished.

Coat 1: Brown Leaves

I know this sounds crazy for a duck boat but again you’re looking for your dark base. The leaf template from red leg allowed good coverage in the dark brown while letting the green remain. This template was evenly spaced around the canoe and didn’t overlap, again this was to let the green show through.

Coat 2: Tan Marsh Grass

Now this is starting to make sense. For this template and coat I again even spaced the template out over the canoe so that I covered the green that was missed by the leaves.

Coat 3: Brown Sticks

But you said brown was the base? I know but this template covered very little area compared to the first two and was ran horizontally, opposite of the others to overlap lines.

Coat 4: Tan Marsh Grass

Up until now the coats had been light and even spaced but this coat wasn’t. For this one I stacked the template and overlapped it about half way each time I moved it. This gave the pattern depth and filled it in.

Coat 5: Brown Timber

After looking at the brightness of the marsh grass, I decided that it was a little too bright for the beaver swamps and lake coves where 80% of my hunts are located. So, I darkened the pattern by running the brown timber template horizontally which also made the pattern even deeper.

Coat 6: Tan Marsh Grass (Lightly)

To cap the outside off I came back and lightly applied the marsh grass template in tan even spaced.

Clear Coats:

For clear coats I applied three coats of a flat matte clear immediately after each other.

The bottom:

For the bottom of the canoe I decided to cover it entirely in dark brown then top it off with the leaf template in tan. My thought was that if the bottom of the canoe is visible it would most likely be on dry land under trees a good distance away from our hunting location. Plus, the likelihood of the bottom staying isn’t very high so I didn’t see the need in putting that much effort into it.

The Interior:

This was the tricky part. Step 1 above was repeated identically for the inside of the canoe as well. Step 2 was slightly more involved an required more time and planning. I chose to apply a marine bottom paint with a non-slip additive to the interior of the canoe. This may be overkill but I never liked the feeling of my wader boots sliding around while entering/existing or simply paddling the canoe. Prior to applying the paint, I had to mix in the non-slip additive according to the directions on the can. After thoroughly mixing the paint and additive I began to apply the first coat of bottom paint with a 4” craft roller.

Coat 1: Bottom Paint

Evenly apply bottom paint containing the non-slip additive to the bottom of the canoe. I found that the additive was applied thick in the first several strokes of the roller so I concentrated those strokes to the areas that needed the non-slip texture and the rest of the areas received little additive. This coat required about ¾ of a quart of paint and was allowed to dry for 24 hours.

Coat 2: Bottom Paint

The same process for coat one was followed. Instead of buying more paint and additive I concentrated the remaining ¼ quart to those areas that would be subject to wear and tear by boots and gear. This coat was allowed to dry for 4-6 hours prior to starting the camo paint process in the same order as the outside.

Overall this project took about three days from start to finish and was under $100 to complete. Hopefully this effort translates into more birds falling from the sky this fall. If you have painted any hunting projects please let us know in the comments below.