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Orange - Why Hunters Should Never Leave Home Without It

Updated on March 2, 2014
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Compared to other sports, hunting has a significantly lower rate of injuries. However, every year, someone is hurt or severely injured in a hunting incident. In 2007, over 200 hunting injury incidents were recorded by the International Hunter Education Association (IHEA). Some of these incidents were fatal, some non-fatal. One of the most commonly cited reasons for the incident was failure to identify the target.

edited by JessicaBSmith
edited by JessicaBSmith | Source

Wearing camouflage in the woods is a BAD idea.

During deer season, some novice hunters like to wear camouflage colors where they fully blend in with their environment, supposedly “lessening” the chance for game to spot them. However, what the dark and camouflage colors really do is make the hunter practically invisible to other hunters, increasing the likelihood of that hunter becoming the next victim on the incident report.

Bluntly put, wearing orange while hunting can save your life. In the majority of states, it is actually required for hunters to wear hunter orange, and an orange cap alone just won´t do. However, some states do not mandate hunter orange, such as New York, California, and Alaska.


States that Do and Do Not Require Hunter Orange

States
Mandated?
Camo Orange Allowed?
Hat or Vest?
Alabama
yes
NO
either
Alaska
no
-
-
Arizona
no
-
-
Arkansas
yes
yes
both
California
no
-
-
Colorado
yes
NO
both
Connecticut
yes
yes
-
Delaware
yes
yes
both
Florida
yes
yes
-
Hawaii
yes
NO
vest
Georgia
yes
yes
-
Idaho
NO
-
-
Illinios
yes
NO
both
Indiana
yes
NO
either
Iowa
yes
NO
vest
Kansas
yes
yes
both
Kentucky
yes
NO
both
Louisianna
yes
yes
both
Maine
yes
yes
both
Maryland
yes
yes
both
Massachusetts
yes
yes
both
Michigan
yes
yes
either
Minnesota
yes
yes
both
Mississippi
yes
yes
vest
Mossouri
yes
yes
both
Montana
yes
yes
both
Nebraska
yes
yes
both
Nevada
NO
-
-
New Hampshire
NO
-
-
New Jersey
yes
yes
either
New Mexico
NO
-
-
New York
NO
-
-
North Carolina
yes
yes
hat
North Dakota
yes
yes
both
Ohio
yes
yes
vest
Oklahoma
yes
yes
both
Oregon
NO
-
-
Pennsylvania
yes
yes
both
Rhode Island
yes
yes
both
South Carolina
yes
yes
either
South Dakota
yes
yes
either
Tennessee
yes
yes
both
Texas
yes
yes
both
Utah
yes
yes
both
Vermont
NO
-
-
Virginia
yes
yes
either
Washington
yes
yes
either
West Virginia
yes
yes
either
Wisconsin
yes
yes
-
Wyoming
yes
yes
either
DATA RECORDED FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
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Why the Color Orange?

Such a sizzling bright color, orange stands out, especially among the green and brown foliage of the woods. If a hunter is wearing his bright orange color, other hunters in the woods will see a flash of orange and immediately know not to shoot for it’s a fellow hunter, not a deer or elk. Since the other hunters are able to effectively identify their target, it lessens the likelihood of you accidentally getting shot.

How Much Do You Really Know About Deer?


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Wearing Orange will not "Give You Away"

Many hunters who choose not to wear the hunter orange color do so because they assume that wearing such a bright color will give them away to the deer. This is simply untrue. Studies conducted at the University of Georgia show that while deer are not as colorblind as they were originally assumed to be, they are red-green colorblind. Because of the lack of cones in their eyes, deer are unable to distinguish the color orange from the color red, which essentially makes the orange color look like a neutral gray that blends in with the environment.

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Why It's a Good Idea to Hunt During the Day

Though deer cannot distinguish between red and green, they are able to see light no matter how dark it is outside. Deer eyes are packed with rod cells that allow them to pick up on the UV radiance in colors. They might can't see the color orange, but they can see the "light" in the color. Hunter orange exudes high UV radiance, which is why in some states, deer hunting is limited to daylight hours. The natural UV rays from the sun neutralize the UV radiance from the hunter orange, making the color basically invisible during the day.

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Facts to Remember

  • deer are red-green colorblind
  • hunter orange appears red to them (or gray)
  • deer can detect light (UV)
  • hunter orange exudes high UV rays
  • hunting in the day makes hunters invisible to deer
  • hunting in camouflage makes hunters invisible to shooters

The Dangers of Not Wearing Orange

It would be a beautiful thing indeed if all hunters were adeptly skilled at hunting and knew how to identify a target before releasing a bullet. But the truth of the matter is that millions of hunters participate in the sport every year, and a large portion of these hunters are beginners who are overly excited at bagging their first kill. Hunters like these will fire at the first movement that they see, spraying bullets into a thicket without taking the time to identify the target.

Furthermore, hunters sometimes get lost. It is much easier for an overhead search team to locate a missing hunter wearing a glaring orange cap or shirt. If your survival skills aren't up to par, wearing a blazing orange hat or vest could determine whether you live or die.

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To Sum it All Up

Yes, orange stands out to the human eye, but not necessarily to the deer's eye. You will not easily blend into your woody environment, which is a great thing. This means that your movement will not be mistaken for a deer's movement, causing you to get shot by another hunter who was unable to identify the target. Orange is a color that smart hunters will never leave home without.

© 2014 Jessica Barrow

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