Talk to a hundred hunters and you’ll probably get a hundred different answers about what colors deer can see. Some will tell you that deer cannot see orange but others will say they can. But what does science say? Can deer see orange or not?
You probably want to know the answer to this question because hunting vests are often orange. Can deer see that your vest is orange?
Can Deer See Orange? (Answered)
Science shows that deer cannot distinguish between orange and other colors. Though deer can see color, they cannot distinguish between certain colors, and orange is one of them.
This might sound a bit complicated, but if you think about what a deer needs to be able to see to survive, it makes perfect sense.
Let’s take a look at how deer sight works and what colors they can and can’t see.
Wear a Blaze Orange Vest
Blaze orange, also known as hunter’s orange, is the color of the vests that many hunters wear when they go out hunting.
Since it is such a bright orange, you may think that deer would be able to see it even though they can’t see normal orange that well.
But that’s not true. Deer cannot distinguish blaze orange any better or worse than ordinary orange. There is no difference between the two for a deer.
In general, deer see movement better than they see color. So even if you’re wearing a color that a deer could potentially see better, if you’re not moving, it might have trouble seeing you.
Deer Cannot Distinguish Between Red (or Orange) and Green
Deer are partially colorblind. This means they can see some color, and in a minute, we’ll look at which colors they see best and worst.
Since we can’t look through the eyes of a deer, we can’t say for certain what color the deer sees when it looks at an orange vest. We do know, however, that it won’t be able to distinguish between an orange vest and a camouflage vest.
Why? Well, deer are essentially red-green colorblind. This is also the most common form of colorblindness in humans, and it makes it difficult for the eye to distinguish between the two colors.
For those of us who aren’t colorblind, it is impossible to imagine how this would work. If you do some research, you can find some photos that try and show you how this might look from a deer’s perspective.
This can be helpful because it shows how easy it is for a hunter to blend into the forest, even in a bright orange vest.
What Colors Do Deer See Best (And Worst)?
Deer cannot distinguish between many colors, but they are not completely colorblind. They can tell the difference between some colors, but they do not see colors in the same way we do.
When talking about deer sight, it’s also important to keep in mind that there are many different kinds of deer all over the world.
While a great deal of research has been put into white-tailed deer, the most common species in North America, we know less about other types of deer.
As mentioned earlier, white-tailed deer are red-green colorblind. This means that though they see color, they cannot distinguish between red and green. Since orange is close to red on the color scale, orange blends in with green camouflage.
There is evidence that deer see ultraviolet colors better than humans. These include blues and purples. This is the opposite of infrared colors, or bright oranges and reds.
So, wearing purple reflective gear wouldn’t be a good idea when you’re looking for deer.
Why Do You Wear Orange for Deer Hunting?
Hunter safety is the main reason for wearing orange vests. They make sure that other hunters can see you and realize that you’re a human, not a deer.
In many areas, you’re required by law to wear orange or red vests.
Hunting can be a dangerous sport, so it’s important that you remain visible to other hunters at all times. While it may be tempting to just wear camouflage and blend in as much as possible into the deer’s habitat, this can be dangerous.
Orange is a preferred color for hunters to wear because it is impossible for deer to see but it is very easy for humans to see.
Other common colors used for reflectors, like yellow, are easier for a deer to see, so they might be good when you’re crossing the street at night, but not for hunting.
What Should You Wear for Deer Hunting?
First and foremost, you should be wearing whatever is safest. You should also be wearing whatever meets the legal requirements for the type of hunting you’re doing.
Make sure to check this before you head out since legislation can vary.
Even once you’ve met all the legal and safety requirements, there is some flexibility in what you choose to wear. One tip is to try and cover your body as much as possible, especially if you have lighter skin.
Though deer can’t see orange and red, deer can see yellows and lighter colors.
Covering up will also help hide any small movements you might be making. Deer see motion more than they see color, so it’s important to move as little as possible when you’re out hunting.
Wear gear that you can move around in without making much noise.
You might also have to change your laundry detergent, and not just because deer have a great sense of smell!
Regular detergents contain brighteners that leave a UV (ultraviolet) residue that deer can see. Look for a detergent made for hunters that doesn’t leave UV light on your clothes.
Deer can also smell detergent scents, so naturally you should use something that is unscented.
Wearing a hat is also a good idea since deer will probably be able to see your hair moving in even a slight breeze. This is also useful because, if you have longer hair, it’s less likely to get stuck in something when you’re walking through the woods.
Of course, you should also check the weather before you go deer hunting and think about the time of year. It’s often best to head out hunting early in the morning before dawn, so you need to make sure that you can stay warm.
Orange Camo vs Plain Orange Hunting Gear
There are some debates about whether orange camo or just plain orange is better to wear.
It’s not really clear if the deer can tell a difference, but since they have trouble distinguishing between colors, there probably isn’t much of a difference between the two for deer.
The difference between the two is more useful if you want to re-use gear for other hunting trips. Though deer can’t see color very well, this is not the case for other animals like turkeys or other birds.
Birds have better eyesight than deer, so having orange camo might be useful if you’re hoping to wear your gear on different trips.
Whatever you decide on, it’s important to check with local regulations about what you can wear while hunting. This can vary from state to state and even county to county, so it’s important to be familiar with local regulations.
Above all, safety should be your first priority when it comes to picking your hunting gear. Even though choosing something harder to see might increase your chances of success, it’s not worth the risk.
Deer Cannot Distinguish Orange from Green
Now you know why you can wear an orange or red hunting vest without deer noticing its bright color. To cervids, orange looks green.
Wear an orange or red hunting rest to stay safe when you go hunting. Wearing this brightly colored garment means that other hunters can see you and will know you aren’t deer.