A Good Resource to Answer: What Do Deer See?

Discussion in 'Deer Hunting' started by Rut-n-Strut, Jul 26, 2017.

  1. Rut-n-Strut

    Rut-n-Strut 8 pointer

    Oct 18, 2013
    Owen County
    I came across an interesting resource. Deer are said to be color blind, which isn't 100% accurate. There is research out there you can read up on if interested. However, this link takes that information a step further and allows you to experience what they see. You can upload a picture and then click on "Red-Blind/Protanopia". It will then edit the image to give you an idea of what deer see. Take a look if you're interested:


    Throw in their ability to better see UV light and motion better than humans and their eyesight is better than most think.
    BNewNKY46 likes this.
  2. shaman

    shaman 10 pointer

    Good post! I been pointing folks to that site for years.

    No, they don't see hunter orange as gray. No, they don't see it at all. They see hunter orange as a pale yellow/orange a bit like the yellow of freshly turned maple leaves. Here's one of my experiments with that site:

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    See "What do Deer Really See?"

    Here's another one, testing out the Orange Clown Suit:


    BTW: the idea that Deer are averse to UV light is a bit misguided. Here's something I found a few years ago:

    UV and Reindeer: Finally some real Science
    Rut-n-Strut likes this.
  3. SmokeShow

    SmokeShow 10 pointer

    Nov 11, 2013
    this is really cool. thanks for sharing!
  4. WildmanWilson

    WildmanWilson 12 pointer

    Dec 26, 2004
    Western Ky.
    This is still speculation. Truth is we have no way with great certainty what they see. I just go by in field reaction. I've hunted in low ladder stands with blaze orange and about every kind of camo. As long as a person has back cover I've never been worried about being spotted. I don't buy into the UV light standing out like a neon light either. As long as a person doesn't move and not sky lined, their vision is not much of a weapon. That nose however....grrrr.
  5. luvtohunt

    luvtohunt 10 pointer

    Sep 1, 2011
    Eubank, Ky
    I agree with WW. I got 20 plus years experience, worn every camo known to man as well as all the orange garments one can think of. Hunted from the ground, ground blind, box blind, to 30 feet up. Its all about back cover and lack of movement is what I have learned. Mess those two things up and their eyes do become a weapon. Much harder to beat the nose for sure!!
  6. Rut-n-Strut

    Rut-n-Strut 8 pointer

    Oct 18, 2013
    Owen County
    I agree with what WW and luvohunt are saying but with a caveat. I have found a bit of difference if you are hunting in the shade vs the sun. A deer's vision is underestimated in my opinion for a couple reasons. They have better motion detection than humans. Also, you can be well camouflaged, backed up next to a fat tree, and motion free but still get spotted by a deer. They may not know what you are at all times, but you'd fool a turkeys eyes in that scenario. I have read studies that have shown that when a deer puts it's head down, the pupil can "level" itself so the landscape is flat. A human can't do that. They put their head down and everything is tilted sideways. I'm not saying they have hawk eyes, but they have better eye sight than they're given credit.
  7. shaman

    shaman 10 pointer

    If you dig down into it, the whole thing about UV and deer is topsy-turvy. That article I linked to suggests that caribou have UV sensitivity so that they can distinguish a white wolf against a snow background. Snow reflects UV but wolf fur does not. Unless your hunting in snow camo in snowy conditions, the problem with whitetails is probably going to be moot. Even if you were, you'd better hope your snow camo had as many of those supposedly bad UV brighteners in them as possible.

    The big problem, as I see it, is keeping a deer from figuring out that you're human. One of the tricks I use is ponchos. Deer key on the head/arms/torso gestalt and if you screw with that, you can fool them rather easily. I made ponchos out of camo for bow season and an orange one for ML and Rifle. Each one took just two yards of material from the fabric store. If the deer can't see where the head, arms, and legs all attach, then you're just this amorphous blob to them.


    I haven't been able to pull off the ball peen hammer and oatmeal cookie trick yet, but I'm getting close.
    KYMike26 likes this.
  8. 120+

    120+ 12 pointer

    I'm wondering which deer committed treason and told everyone what they see and key on. I'll bet he's in a high fence somewhere with 72 virgin does.
  9. shaman

    shaman 10 pointer

    The color blindness deduction comes from dissecting the eyes of deer (yuck!) and counting the various receptors. Humans with this kind of color blindness show the same ratios of receptors. This is on top of studies where a deer gets hooked up to an EEG to see if they respond to various wavelengths of lights. The UV thing comes from the same process.

    These studies were backed up by simple behavorial tests where captive deer were given various colored signs. If they went to the right sign, they'd get a reward. With this sort of test you can see if the deer see minor changes in wavelengths.

    The poncho thing comes from years of walking around with a poncho on and having deer show that they had no clue what I was. I've got plenty of examples for you if you like.
  10. shaman

    shaman 10 pointer

    While we're on the subject, I'll tell you another thing about deer vision/perception that might be helpful. Deer have a concept of this-behind-that and this-is-in-that. If I hide in a ground blind, a curious deer may come up and deliberately stick her nose in to check me out. They can figure out that a head popping up over a treestand skirt is a person. They know enough to come up to my bedroom window and stick their head in. Turkeys come up to my bedroom window as well, but they're more than likely to peck at their reflection in the glass.
  11. KYMike26

    KYMike26 Spike

    Nov 6, 2015
    I saw a show about a study that the Alabama dnr did about deer color sight. The one thing they said besides orange being okay was that Blue really stood out to deer. This hit me especially hard at the time because deer had started spotting me really quick around that time and I had switched from a camo pack to a larger blue hiking pack. It was like clockwork if they walked into woods on that side of me( i like to set up in a thin strip of woods between two overgrown fields) where my bag was hanging. I'm talking distances of about 20- 50 yards.
    Went back to the camo and things got better.
    Rut-n-Strut likes this.
  12. Teach Deer

    Teach Deer 8 pointer

    Aug 4, 2013
    The main study being mentioned was ran at the University of Georgia (anyone want to guess which camo company based in Georgia may have had an interest)...only thing was, after the research, the study states that the individual researchers all switched camo patterns (but would not say from what to what--my guess would be from RealTree but I have no idea what to)...

    What I have observed--
    1. Brand new camo clothes regardless as to pattern (made to look good to hunters) stands out more than well washed/stressed camo (maybe a UV thing rather than a pattern)...
    2. Solid, olive drab BDUs (well washed) work fine as long as you are not skylining yourself... I also prefer mil-spec BDUs (button fly)
    3. Blaze orange vests over either camo or black turtlenecks (well washed) do not bother deer...but I do avoid blaze orange gloves...
    4. Vertical patterns (like surplus West German BDUs) seem to work better than "pretty patterns" even if you would not think so...

    What I tell new hunters--
    1. If a deer hears you, all is not necessarily lost...
    2. If a deer sees you, all is not necessarily lost...
    3. If a deer smells you, they are GONE...set up accordingly...

    Stand Position--
    ***If at all possible (based on wind direction, etc), place your stand on the NORTH side of the tree...
    In the US, the sun rises in the East, arcs to the South at noonish, and sets in the West--the North side of the tree is always at least partially shaded...
    ***Directional HINT (analog wristwatch): To use your watch as an approximate compass outside of the tropics in the northern hemisphere, hold the watch horizontal and point the hour hand at the sun. Half way between that point and the twelve o'clock mark on your watch points to the south.
    Rut-n-Strut and shaman like this.
  13. xbokilla

    xbokilla 12 pointer

    Jun 28, 2012
    I think everyone has different opinions and experiences when it comes to this. I do think camo helps but also think you're going to get picked off with too much movement. The comment above about the groundblind vs treeskirt I'm not so sure. Even without a treeskirt I sit in some skinny ladder stands only 15 feet off the ground on a ridge where I could be easily seen from deer coming up the side of the ridge. Rarely if I'm sitting still do they even look up in my direction. However, the few times I have been forced to sit in a ground blind (not my cup of tea), I've noticed deer, even at a distance will look straight at that blind as to say, "C'mon move already." Once deer are close to me/under me, I can get by with way more movement in the air than on the ground. Now smell, I believe they have a great nose but I'm convinced some things bother them and some don't.
  14. shaman

    shaman 10 pointer

    Couldn't agree more!

    Subtle and splotchy seems to work better than realistic for deer. One of the tips I used to give was to A) take fresh camo and run it through on Hot. B) Get some RIT dye in either green or brown and dye over the faded camo. If you follow the instructions, you can dye in the washing machine and your wife won't know you've been there.
  15. shaman

    shaman 10 pointer

    Movement is key, and the deer's eyes are built to pick it up much better than humans. One trick is to limit your movements only when the deer is moving. If he stops, you stop.

    Groundblinds are tricky. As I said, deer can key on the fact that you're trying to hide yourself inside or behind something. It's much easier to get busted on the ground. For the most part, I'd rather be up a tree, even if it's only 8 feet up.

    I've played a lot with what material works best for treestand skirts. I'm still not really sure I can give a definitive answer as to what works best. I've tried camo burlap, die-cut and solid materials. I've also tried backing materials like landscape fabric behind the camo. What I've learned is this:

    1) Burlap is okay until the sun shines through it. If they see you sitting through the burlap, they're more likely to key on you.
    2) Solid material is great, but it has the greatest resistance to wind. I ruined a setup once by not tying off a corner of the skirt, and it flapped in the slightest breeze. I saw a buck 250 yards away bust, because he caught the flapping .
    3) Die-cut works well, but it's flimsy.

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