All of a sudden, general-purpose camouflage patterns were out. Habitat-specific camo patterns were in.
The trend spread to the military. Soldiers in the first Gulf War crossed the deserts of Kuwait and Iraq in curious-looking brown-mottled "cookie dough" or "chocolate chip" camo uniforms.
It probably was inevitable, then, that someone got computers involved in the camouflage-design process. In 2001, the first digital camo - dubbed MARPAT for "Marine pattern" - appeared on the U.S. Marines' battle dress.
Designed to maximize the time-tested principles of disruptive coloration and countershading, digital camouflages employ light and dark splotches with stair-stepped "pixelated" edges. They don't look like anything in particular, and perhaps that's the secret to their success. As long as their colors match the surrounding terrain, they never appear out of place.
No doubt the ever-inventive community of techno whiz kids will lift the science of camouflage to even greater heights and render us sportsmen even more invisible to our quarry.
Or maybe not. The most effective camo I've seen to date is one of the old-school designer patterns, Green Deception by Predator.
A turkey-hunting partner showed up one morning decked out in a full outfit of it - pants, shirt, jacket, gloves, hat - the whole shebang. The camo's rather bold markings got me wondering just how effective it might be, so I hung back and watched as my friend stepped off the road and into the tree line. He hadn't gone 10 feet when he just ... vanished.
I smiled. Camouflage is fun, even when you're not the one who disappears.