Sierra Trading Post Explores: Camo, Blaze Orange & Deer Vision

Doesn't it seem kind of crazy that you can wear your vivid blaze-orange hunting vest and remain invisible to deer? And if you love pink camo and blaze-pink hunting gear, you know that it doesn't make you more noticeable to deer, either. Why is that? And what about your favorite camo jacket? Is it actually providing any real camouflage in the field?

Do you ever wonder what visual ques give you away to deer and why? The answers lie in the science of deer vision, and that's what I'll be exploring for this installment of Sierra Trading Post Explores.

How to Become Invisible to Deer

The key to increasing the success of your hunt is in understanding the way a deer perceives his surroundings. Many seasoned hunters are aware that their scent and movement are primarily what give them away in the field. But when it comes to staying hidden from deer's vision, what do you need to know?

Deer Vision Graphic

There are a few things you need to know about how deer see to improve your hunting success. One thing is that there is a horizontal swath through the center of their vision that perceives more details, so laying down on the ground or staying quiet and still in a tree stand can keep you out of their line of sight.

Does Camo Work?

How helpful is camo when it comes to remaining hidden from a deer's sight? Some argue that it's not as important as you might think. Deer don't see color in the same way that we do, so some studies suggest that the color of camo jackets isn't as influential as the pattern. If the pattern of your camo jacket and pants mimics your surroundings, it doesn't really matter what color it is. That's why companies like Realtree offer a variety of camo patterns for hunters to choose from.

Camo deer vision

This leads us to the question about blaze orange in the field. It seems odd that hunters can wear such a bright color without giving themselves away to deer. Why is that? Keep reading to learn how deer perceive color and how it affects what you wear in the field.

Why Can't Deer See Blaze Orange or Pink?

Many vertebrates see different colors thanks to light-detecting cells in the retina called cone cells. Cone cells are what allow the eye to distinguish color and focus. Rod cells in the retina create low-light contrast and light. The number of cone cells the retina has determines the range of colors the eye sees.

For instance, humans have trichomatic vision, which means they have three different cone cells; short-wave cone cells that allow us to see blues, middle-wave cone cells that allow us to see greens, and long-wavelength cone cells that are receptive to red hues. Think of the rainbow: that is the color spectrum that humans can see because of these three types of cone cells.

Now, let's look at deer vision with this information in mind. Remember that humans have trichomatic vision, with the ability to see three basic colors. Deer's eyes are dichromatic, so they only have the ability to see two types of colors: the blues of short-wavelength light and the greens of middle-wavelength light.

Deer's retinas do not have cone cells that are receptive to long-wavelength light that results in red colors. So, deer primarily see in greens and blues, which means orange, pink and red aren't visible to deer in the same way they are to humans, no matter how bright. However, if you're wearing a blue shirt under your blaze orange vet, a deer is more likely to spot you.

Your next hunt will be more successful if you understand the way deer see and tweak your process accordingly. Now that you're armed with the appropriate knowledge, you're good to go!  For far more information about hunting gear and hunting, check out the Sierra Trading Post hunting buying guide.

That wraps up this installment of Sierra Trading Post Explores. I hope you learned a thing or two. Join me next month for another look into the lesser known aspects of your outdoor adventures and gear!
posted by
Emily Reeves
Emily is a new mom and an avid gardener. She enjoys hiking, camping, reading and hammock lounging when she's not working as a content writer for Sierra Trading Post.
Comments (1)
11/28/2016 at 7:29 PM
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