Are Deer Colorblind?

Many hunters wonder whether the color of outfits you wear matters, which leaves many wondering,” Are deer colorblind?” It’s a question that’s been at the center of a debate. Some presume deer are color blind, while others disagree.

Well, which is which? Read on to learn what deer can see and how you can hide from them.

Deer Vision

Deer are not colorblind. However, their vision differs from ours. Researchers at the University of Georgia have established that deer eyes have more but scattered rods and fewer cones than humans.

Cones and rods are types of photoreceptors, and they’re what dictate eyesight. Rods enable us to detect movement and change in light, while cones help us focus on detail.

The fewer cones on deer retinas make them unable to see color well.

While humans have three types of cones that allow us to see green, red, and blue, deer have only two types of cones. Hence, they can only see blue and red. The limited number of cones makes deer have a limited color wavelength. They can’t distinguish between green and red, although they can see blue more clearly.

Because they have more rods, their field of vision is much broader, albeit blurred.

Can Deer See Camouflage?

While you don’t necessarily need to wear camouflage patterns, it works. Camo is not as critical for movement and scent control, but many researchers recommend it. The argument is that you are doing everything possible to maximize your success in the woods.

If dressed in camo, it breaks your silhouette in your surroundings. It is these break-up patterns in camo that ensure you remain hidden.

Look for a camo with large patterns and high contrasting brown colors, and as you get further away, you’ll appear more and more like a blurry object that is not easy for deer to detect.

Can Deer See Blue Jeans?

According to research, blue jeans are visible to deer quite well. Deer are red-green color blind, meaning they see orange and red as shades of green.

In other words, deer have a protanope vision which also makes them more sensitive to blue light. Therefore, blue jeans are not the best thing to wear while hunting.

Can Deer See Pink Camo?

As we have already seen, the primary purpose for camo while hunting for deer is to break up your outline, subsequently concealing your small movements. That’s why you’ll find many hunters wearing the blaze-orange camo.

The chances are high that deer will see your pink camo appearing just like a regular forest camo too.

Deer See Very Well at Night

Deer have a higher concentration of rods, which work better in the dark or less intense light.

Additionally, deer have a reflective substance on the back of their eye called the tapetum lucidum. This reflective substance contributes to the bouncing and reflecting of light back and forth between the eye and the retina. It’s why some deer can see fifty times better at night than a human.

What’s more, a deer’s pupils can let more light in, making the night vision even better.

For these reasons, deer see better at night than during the daytime. However, deer are not nocturnal.

Can Deer See in the Daytime?

We’ve established how well deer see at night, but can they see in the daytime?

Where deer surpass man in night vision, they trail behind him in sharpness of focus. They have poor visual focus, and also their eyes are further apart.

For this reason, although they have a wider range of vision, it’s blurred. For example, it’s hard for a deer to determine how far an object is spatially, while in contrast, humans have a part in their retina that allows light to penetrate through the lens.

As a result, we can see letters and words clearly without getting distracted by other things in the vicinity, something the deer can’t.

Can a Deer See You If You Don’t Move?

Believe it or not, deer can see even the slightest of motions due to other adaptations in their eyes. They have wider set eyes, pupils, and a “tapetum,” all of which increase their sensitivity to the slightest of motions.

However, regardless of their phenomenal motion detection, deer cannot see detail. It’s difficult for deer to see you if you don’t move. That’s because, over a wide horizontal area, they have a lower concentration of cone cells. Isn’t this weird?

You’ll see a deer staring at you for minutes, leaving you wondering what’s happening. Interestingly, the deer can’t distinguish what you are. In terms of their ability to see details, we could say that if a deer were a human, they would be legally blind.

How Far Away Can Deer See You

Because of the deer’s eye positioning, their range of view is 310 degrees, much wider than a human’s (180 degrees). That means deer can see a lot more of what’s around them.

However, there’s a caveat to the deer’s wide field of vision; clarity. Deer can’t see far away. They can only see clearly images that are directly in front of them. Anything farther away appears blurry to them.

Deer Have Impressive Senses

Since deer vision increases with blue, we can safely say that deer are sensitive to ultraviolet light. In low light, clothes emitting UV will appear to glow from the deer’s perspective.

Avoid clothing with UV brighteners when hunting. Also, laundry detergents often contain UV brighteners to whiten clothes, so avoid using them for your hunting garments as they’ll make you more detectable to the deer.

What about a deer’s sense of smell? Their sense of smell is significantly better than ours. Some researchers claim that deer are at par with dogs when it comes to sense of smell, approximately a thousand times better than ours.

While this article is primarily about deer vision, scent control is also vital while hunting. I recommend you learn to hunt the wind, ensure to use scent-free detergent as well, and use deer attractant.

What to Wear While Hunting

You can wear anything when hunting, apart from blue or UV-brightened clothing. Though camo works, it’s not as vital as not wearing blue or UV-brightened garments.

If you wear a camo pattern, ensure it best mimics your hunting environment, although there’s no need to worry if they don’t match perfectly. What matters is the camo enhances your undetectability.

It’s also advisable to avoid wearing all-black, if possible. A black outline is likely to stand out in most terrains, and hunters wearing solid black clothing are easy to spot. Even from a distance, they appear like some tiny floating black dot.

Some will argue that deer’s vision is different from human’s. But mind you, deer can distinguish black from the greens and browns they often see, which will result in them quickly running off.

Closing Thoughts

Although deer see some colors different from what you and I see, that doesn’t mean they’re literally color blind. Deer perceive colors differently. Therefore, wear specific color patterns while out in the woods on a hunting trip. Doing so is essential to remaining undetected by deer at certain times.

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