Couple makes face paint for wild turkey hunters

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RED WING, Minn. (AP) - You could call it man makeup.

It’s a water-based skin application made from natural ingredients such as organic rooibos tea and zinc oxide. It’s nonallergenic, won’t clog your pores, doesn’t stain clothes and provides protection from the sun. It’ll last all day with nary a touch-up and is water-resistant but can be removed with just a wet cloth.

No animals were harmed during its development.

But it’s deadly on wild turkeys.

It’s camouflage face paint for hunters.

Natural Camo is the brainchild of Sven and DeAnna Fleischaker, who mix, test and distribute their product from a renovated pole barn on the outskirts of Red Wing.

They bill it as the only all-natural face paint product for hunters looking to hide from their quarries. Waterfowl hunters, deer bow hunters and wild turkey hunters make up the largest share of hunters who don camouflage.

Minnesota’s spring wild turkey hunting season began April 16 and continues through May 29, when temperatures will be warm enough to make a camo mask uncomfortably stuffy. Male wild turkeys - the target of the spring season - are among the most difficult birds to kill, with often fewer than one in three hunters succeeding. The wary birds are gifted in sight, so concealing one’s face is a major asset.

But traditional olive-and-khaki camouflage face paint contains waxes or oils - using recipes largely unchanged since it was developed for soldiers in World War II. It’s gooey, can stain clothing and often requires soap or alcohol to remove.

Nearly five years ago, Sven Fleischaker had enough of the traditional stuff, which he calls “grease.”

“I was waterfowl hunting and I wore the grease, and it was just a pain,” said Fleischaker, 46, whose acreage, which borders Frontenac State Park, affords him daily access to wildlife, including spring gobblers to hunt on his property. “After a few days of wearing the grease, my face would break out. It didn’t feel good. And it would literally stain my shower when I cleaned up. It seemed to me there was a need for a better product.”

His wife, who goes by Dee, operates a makeup business focusing on skin-healthy products. A hunter herself, she had an idea.

“I mixed up some colors and powdered his face,” she told the St. Paul Pioneer Press (http://bit.ly/1j0Nc2L) inside the couple’s workshop.

“Yeah, it worked,” Sven Fleischaker said, “but I told her, ‘I can’t do that to hunters, ask them to powder their faces. At least not the men.’ “

After some trial and error, the couple hit on a substance based on distilled water. It’s applied with a small rollerball, similar to roll-on deodorant. They debuted it in 2010 at Game Fair, an annual outdoors expo in Anoka County, and sold out their inventory.

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