If you want success this season, ditch that digital camo for deer hunting.
Or so implies a study on deer eyesight by the University of Georgia.
This video is based on a University of Wisconsin Study that supports the University of Georgia study. You will, however, notice a couple of errors in the video.
Mainly, the video references what the human eye sees as well as what the deer eye sees. They are not the same.
What is Camouflage
We associate the word with material patterns that are marketed to the military and hunters. These are camouflage systems.
Camouflage, in its simplest terms, is an attempt to hide or conceal in plain sight. Literally, camouflage can be anything from mud and sticks to spraypaint or tarps. Any attempt to trick the eyes into not seeing something or seeing it as something other than what it is qualifies as camouflage.
Camouflage is not an attempt to make you invisible. It is designed to help you blend in with the environment around you.
Deer Eyes Versus Human Eyes
Attempts to market camouflage are almost always aimed at human eyesight as no one has proven everything the deer eye sees and does not see. Remember, just because it works great for your eyes, does not mean that it works great for the deer eye:
- Human eyes have a fairly even mix of rods and cones. Deer eyes are predominantly cones.
- Deer eyes have a covering that collects light allowing them to see better in darker conditions. This is the "shine" you see in their eyes at night.
- Deer eyes are set much farther apart giving them a much wider field of vision than you have.
- Deer do not see in colors as we do, the Georgia Study finds that they can easily discern white, blue, and yellow to a lesser extent.
- The age-old idea that hunter orange barely registers with deer is upheld. Reds and oranges seem to be mostly neutral colors to deer.
What Can We Learn From This?
Here are the basic details to keep in mind when choosing clothing and accessories for your deer hunting trip.
- Because of the wider field of view, deer are less able to see small details. It's too much information to absorb.
- Deer eyes are much better at seeing movement than the human eye. This makes sense on the evolutionary scale, it's a survival skill.
- Although I cannot explain seeing blue, the ability to see white also makes sense. What is the first thing you see when you spook a doe? That big white flag, right? Again, it's a survival skill helping deer keep track of one another.
Camo For Deer Hunting
How do your camouflage choices measure up?
- Subtle patterns and color schemes, such as most digital patterns, are lost on deer. Without the detail, it all blobs together. A big human-shaped blob.
- Military patterns are designed to fool human eyes, not deer's eyes.
- Patterns that contain blues, as some military digital patterns do, are the same as wearing a sign around your neck and a pointing arrow over your head.
- The best patterns for deer have large details and sharp contrasts. It would seem that makers like Realtree™ and Mossy Oak™ have it right
Even More Tips!
Here's what we learned from this study.
- Movement is still a bigger give away than your camouflage choices. It is always important to move carefully and as little as possible.
- Camouflage alone is not enough. Even in stands, keep something between you and the deer to break up your outline and/or keep something behind you. It does not matter what you are wearing if your body is clearly outlined against the skyline.
- Whether or not deer see on the ultraviolet spectrum is still unproven.
If you are up for a little fun and experimentation this hunting season, put on your best Hawaiian shirt and try it in the field. According to the study, as long as it avoids white, blue, and yellow, it should work like a charm.
Let me know how it works!