Hits and Misses

Hits and Misses

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Duly Noted: What and How Deer See

"Duly Noted" refers to material by others that I believe to be interesting.  In the current issue of Petersen's Hunting (Nov. 2014), Ben O'Brien discusses the result of a recent study of whitetail deer by Dr. Bradley Cohen and his colleagues at the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, Univ. of Georgia, and Dr. Cohen's responses to interview questions.

It turns out that deer not only see somewhat differently than humans, but don't see as well, either.  If you squint and keep on squinting, you're replicating to some degree how a deer sees:  everything is blurry and in the same focus.

Within this blurry focus, however, some colors are better perceived than others.  Blue, violet, and near ultraviolet light are seen more clearly by deer than other colors.  Near sunrise and sunset, blue and UV makes up much of the light available, and that's what deer see better than other colors.  So keep those jeans at home, boy.

And camo?  Apparently, depth in camo patterns isn't important, but the gray parts in camo reflect blue or UV light.  Just what a hunter wants, right?  A camo that, far from disguising human presence,  makes him or her more visible during the so-called "best" times to hunt, early and late!  Their study reinforces what has become quite well known: don't wash hunting clothes in detergents with brightening agents, which absorb light in the UV region of the color spectrum and re-emit light in the blue region.

Dr. Cohen's study appeared in the Wildlife Society Bulletin, May 2014; an abstract can be found at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/wsb.438/abstract.

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