Behind the Scenes With Code of Silence

Code of Silence apparel and gear is carving a spot in the industry with smart, strategic and measured growth.

Behind the Scenes With Code of Silence

Code of Silence sounds like something sinister out of a Bond, Bourne or Potter movie, or perhaps the movie’s title. It’s not, though. It’s a line of three-season camouflage apparel designed by two longtime hunters that’s gaining popularity in the hunting world as it continues to make gains with smart, strategic and measured growth.

Ev Tarrell, Darrin Youngblut and Jamie Dykman are the principals behind Code of Silence. They have decades of experience hunting deer and other game in Iowa, Nebraska and elsewhere. Youngblut is a successful farm operator, outdoor entrepreneur, hunter, angler and devoted father and husband. His motto is “Less is more, simple is better.” Tarrell spent more than 30 years with Cabela’s in multiple roles including oversight of Hunting Clothing, Brand Marketing and Strategy, Strategic Product Development, and the company’s expansion into Canada. He was responsible for numerous patents and camo introductions including Zonz Camo, Microtex, MT050, Wooltimate, Outfitter Berber and others. Dykman was announced mid-June as vice president of operations. Also previously with Cabela’s, Dykman spent more than a decade in product distribution, sourcing, merchandising and marketing, along with leadership roles in customer service and product strategy-development.

Tarrell (photo above) was gracious enough to answer our questions in this month’s Spotlight on Code of Silence.

AB: Thanks for taking the time to visit with Archery Business this month. Can you tell us a little about your background and how you got into the industry?

Tarrell: I started working for Cabela's right out of college in the late 1980s and was buying hunting clothing for them in late 1989. It was a really incredible time to be in the industry, particularly the hunting clothing industry. There simply wasn't a lot of technical clothing in the market. The industry was missing a lot of solutions to their challenges as hunters; hence there was a huge appetite for new designs, new fabrics, new camo designs, etc. As long as you had solid concepts and could get it to market, there was a great opportunity to be successful and have a lot of fun at the same time, and we did both.

AB: When did Code of Silence become a thing, and by that, I mean when I did you think, Hmm, this is more than an idea, and we can really do this, so let’s flip this switch? Was that a long-term idea or something that came about quickly?

Tarrell: There were a lot of factors and “moments” that got this from becoming a “want” to a “project” and then to being a “company” for that matter, but there was definitely way more than a single classic single “Ahhh-ha!” moment. It wasn’t like after designing and selling hunting clothing for 30 years that I couldn’t sleep at night unless I built more. I firmly believe in the principle of “necessity being the mother of invention” and to be honest, multiple experiences where I was clearly needing “better”— better quietness, better warmth and particularly, better concealment pushed me to get out of my chair to do something about it. 

AB: People will ask: “What’s with the name Code of Silence?” How did you come up with that? Is that in regard to how quiet it is, or you’re invisible in the woods, or both, or something else?

Tarrell: I love this question. The name just came to us one day when we were talking about managing quietness in our hunting setups. We were describing how you had to be “all in” on this, saying this has to be a commitment, a “code,” and then it just clicked. But in the bigger sense, to us “Code of Silence” is a philosophy dedicated to creating pressure-free hunting environments. So, to that end, we define COS internally to mean, "like you were never there.” Pulling off this level of total stealth comprehensively encompasses managing and delivering on everything from “visual” silence, “audible silence” and simply making a serious attempt to eliminate as much of your presence in the woods as you possibly can.

AB: Your website pretty much lays out some major factors all hunters want: To be unnoticed, unheard and have virtually zero presence. That spans the gamut for those who pursue whitetails and big game to waterfowl and turkeys, right?

Tarrell: We are highly focused on whitetail hunting right now, but I think it’s more than fair to say that remaining “holistically undetected” is critical regardless of what critter you are pursuing. While we talk about and highly manage the obvious side of going undetected in terms of quietness and camo, etc., the bigger brand commitment is dedicated to the philosophy of reducing pressure as a whole, both in the immediate sense and across the board for an entire season and beyond. Without this type of total mindset and approach, the full potential from our products, or from your hunts for that matter, will never be realized. A fisherman is only as good as the lake they are on. This “all in” approach to stealth makes the game that much more fun as well as rewarding.

AB: Can you explain a little bit about the “Visual Silence S18” camouflage pattern, what the name means and how you developed it?

Tarrell: This is a hard thing to do in short form, but we really wanted the camo we put into COS to be “every hunter’s camouflage,” driven by science and not our “personal artwork.” What I mean by this is we believed the need to completely take the opinions out of it and let nature dictate the design. The “S” in S18 stands for “Stand” and the “18” is a rounded-up version of 17.8 feet. We found that to be the belt height of a hunter in an average stand height of 14.8 feet in the research that we did. Once we had this average stand height, we could then look at the average branch size and branch density in the most common trees in the Midwest at that height. This information drove the element size and composition. The easy part was the color portion of S18, actually, and this came directly from the average colors we found on those same most common Midwest tree species.

The Verdigre Hoodie and Pant are dead-quiet thanks to the 100% Fleece-Wool shell. The garments can be worn alone in moderate temps, or used for layering.
The Verdigre Hoodie and Pant are dead-quiet thanks to the 100% Fleece-Wool shell. The garments can be worn alone in moderate temps, or used for layering.

AB: You’re based in Nebraska. Will Code of Silence work in other parts of the United States and Canada?

Tarrell: Yes, we actually had to think way outside of Nebraska and drop any locally biased selfishness. There’s a lot more whitetail hunting done in other areas of the country, obviously. I’m very blessed to have had opportunities to hunt all across the U.S. and Canada, so I have good perspectives of what it takes to get the job done outside of Nebraska. It was only appropriate to go to the biggest whitetail zones and let these areas and their habitats drive our approach. The light absorbance benefits are, however, 100 percent universal, 100 percent relevant, and 100 percent non-species specific regardless of where, when and what you are hunting.

AB: Tell us a little about your company and its culture. Are your employees hunters? Do you have to lock the doors during deer season to keep everyone working? How do their experiences help you with ideas on the products? 

Tarrell: Our culture and passions are grounded around hunting and being outside as much as possible. It will be foolish to not have all of us in trees and out in the woods as much as we possibly can be. It’s also critical to know how our gear works under all conditions so we have to be out there and hunting hard. At the same time, we have a culture of supporting those who support us, so we are always going to be there for our customers when they need us, which happens a lot during hunting season. Work hard, play hard is the balance we find to make it all work.

AB: Code of Silence has three lines for cool, cold and coldest conditions. You also have a couple of new items, including two packs and accessories. How have the packs been received by retailers? I saw them at the ATA Show in January 2023, and they’re quite nice. Solid design, quiet and they look tough. Are retailers showing interest in them?

Tarrell: We’ve been extremely happy with the interest level we’ve had in all of our products to date. I’ll be honest in saying that our price position is a little hard to trust right off the bat, though. Our prices come from an equation that results from our supply chain efficiencies more than most. We are about as vertical as you can get without owning manufacturing facilities. We came from a culture and a system that worked hard to find ways to leverage internal design and direct to source manufacturing. The brand is committed to a similar model. I think at times it’s hard for some to grasp the fact that a very high level of quality can actually be offered at our price structure. That’s probably as big of a hurdle as any short-term lack of awareness factors that we have encountered as we work to become more established.

AB: I assume your accessories — the Balaclava and Closure Glove, specifically — came out of real-life winter hunting experiences in Nebraska and the Midwest?

Tarrell: I don’t think we have anything in the line that doesn’t come from real world experience. In some cases, though, that translation of experience might equate to something fairly simplistic. So, for example on the Closure Glove you mention, it’s simply about the need to have a go-to multi-function super warm glove that gets me to my stand and back out again and has a lot of application across the board. Probably not an item I would hold a bow with to make a shot, but definitely something that is highly needed in a ton of scenarios. There are always a few “little things,” though, that make a big difference. The Sherpa lining in this glove, for example, may seem fairly standard looking. But this lining is superior to any pile-type lining I have found for getting your glove on and off when your fingers are damp, which is very common. So, even our simple gear has a lot of thought put into it.

The drop down gear pouch on the DoubleBack Xtreme Pack works well for carrying a compound bow, saddle gear, or even a pop-up ground blind.
The drop down gear pouch on the DoubleBack Xtreme Pack works well for carrying a compound bow, saddle gear, or even a pop-up ground blind.

AB: Similar to the name, people will ask this: What do you mean by “driving efficiency” in regard to Code of Silence and hunting? Can you explain that?

Tarrell: The short answer is we believe clothing should enable the hunter to be more successful. Your clothing should make you better or at least set you up to be better. It’s easy to think about this context in terms of how a 99.9 percent high-mod graphite rod makes you a better jig fisherman, or a precision rangefinder makes you a better shot with a bow. But to be honest, we really believe this level of enablement isn’t something that hunters are receiving from their clothing, or even expect to receive from their clothing. We’re trying to change that; in fact, I think we have.

AB: There’s a lot going on in the world, including supply chain issues still resonating from the pandemic to lingering questions about the economy. This had to be quite a leap of faith to create a new company in the last couple of years and attempt to gain ground. How rewarding is it to have been able to get it going and keep moving forward?

Tarrell: While I fully believe that timing is everything in many cases, we think very independently, and right or wrong, the right time to move forward on COS was after the work we put in to get this ready to go to market was final. “The cabin’s finished … time to move in,” basically. I’m sure that 2020 and 2021 were awesome years to be in the business. We’re simply working backward from building great clothing that delivers great results and hoping this deliverable excels regardless of any challenges in the market.

AB: I’m a retailer, and I want your 2-minute elevator pitch on why I should have Code of Silence in my store. Go!

Tarrell: Code of Silence is definitely unique, definitely better and it’s a “new way to go hunting.” Every feature and every stitch is 100-percent solution-based to fully deliver a higher level of silence, thermal efficiency, enhanced ergonomic fit, organized function and superior concealment. I know that after almost 40 years of hearing about why this camo is better than that camo, etc., it’s hard to give an open ear to a new camo story. I will guarantee anyone, though, that the difference COS provides on better mimicry of the light absorbances found in nature is an absolute game changer. This is the new vastly important “third leg” on the camo stool with color and pattern being the only two to date. This new consideration is likely the most important aspect in terms of creating true effectiveness in camo designs. If they aren’t biting at this point, I’m going to “all of this at an incredibly fair industry leading price.” 

AB: Do you work with retailers on special deals, holiday promotions and other things to help spur sales?

Tarrell: We really haven’t managed the promotional side of the business to this point, but we realize how important these programs are to the industry. Our products are very fairly priced all day, every day. The value in COS is definitely already embedded, so hopefully this allows our line to be an asset to our partners across the entire season. We have definitely been very flexible and local in working with new partners on minimums and terms. This comes from the confidence we have that retailers will be successful with our programs. We have some ideas and the supply chain to create more entry-level products that will assist our partners in conversion without undercutting our brand promise. We will be more focused on these types of models going forward, as opposed to straight discounting.

AB: What’s a great success story for the company that started out as an, “Uh oh!” moment? Anything that comes to mind that you learned from?

Tarrell: I think in many ways we will look back at this period as “the good old days” and laugh about a few of the hiccups we’ve had. In spite of my over 35 years in this industry, there’s definitely a lot of things I haven’t done. When you have to ask a freight guy what “drayage” is, or you send out products and realize you have never actually invoiced before, it’s slightly stressful but ultimately a great experience. As far as “good spills,” oh yeah, we have had plenty, mostly on mis-interpretations of designs that give you a new idea that leads to something pretty awesome, actually.

AB: How have your previous experiences in the outdoors industry helped prepare you to launch Code of Silence and be able to navigate the waters?

Tarrell: Obviously, my time at Cabela’s, which included thorough and systematic market evaluation, in-house product development, in-house sourcing and in-house marketing, has been priceless. During those 30 years, I had the unique and blessed experience of leading an incredible team that successfully managed and built tens of thousands of SKUs of every category of hunting clothing imaginable. That tenure and opportunity as a whole simply piled on the real-world experience. I was very lucky to work for a company that allowed me to fail in many ways, as long as the end result in totality was there. That lack of micro-consequences or lack of micro-management in general was incredibly supportive to really learning this business. Without that opportunity in my career to truly run the show and truly learn over literally decades, none of this would be even remotely possible.

AB: How can retailers or dealers get in touch with you?

Tarrell: We monitor chat sessions on our site at extremely closely, but I also pick up on emails at Darrin Youngblut and Jaime Dykman are also readily available at and

AB: Anything else you’d like to mention about Code of Silence that we haven’t discussed?

Tarrell: I would be remiss in not saying “thank you” in a giant way to everyone who has helped us get to where we are, and all the consumers who have stepped up to date and taken a chance on us as a company without any prior experience with the brand. It’s very humbling to see this all come together through a lot of dedication and a lot of teamwork, but then to see customers support our view and connect to the brand is simply awesome.

I know it sounds cliché, but we really do have some incredible plans for the next few years. We see solution-based products that drive efficiency into hunting, flowing into a large variety of product categories. Undoubtedly, there will always be a huge appetite for better mouse traps, and that’s just another cool part of getting to live in America. The team we have is very capable and very passionate on delivering many more truly game changing products over the next few years.


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