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Are Deer Colorblind?

Are Deer Colorblind?

It can be said that we assume all animals can see in color other than the ones we are aware of such as dogs and owls but other than that it’s really anyone’s guess unless you do some research. 

Deer are commonly tracked by hunters which are usually seen wearing some form of camouflage that makes them blend into the natural environment to us,

but does the camouflage fool the deer, or is it the reason why they always seem to spot you before you get close enough? 

This guide will tell you all you will need to know about how deer see the world around them including colors, light, depth of field, and movement.

This won’t only help you with hunting or wildlife photography, but it is also quite interesting to learn how animals see the same world in a very different way. 

After this, we will compile this information into a quick rundown into how to be as invisible as possible to deer so that you can get close enough to snap some beautiful pictures or have venison for dinner. 

What Colors Do Deer See And What Colors Do They Not See?

Before we get into whether deer are colorblind, what being colorblind means will be explained a bit more so that you have a better idea of what it actually means.

Being colorblind is when the eye is not able to tell the difference between wavelengths (also known as colors) of light. 

There are two types of cells called cones and rods and are located in the retina at the back of the eye, the cones are for distinguishing between colors and for situations with high light and the rods are for low light such as nighttime. 

There has been a bit of debate about this but through some extensive research it has been proven that deer are not completely color blind,

but they can only see blues and reds and this is due to them only having two types of cones in their eyes whereas we have three. 

Deer are what is called red-green color blind which means that they can’t tell the difference between red and green which is known as having a protanope vision.

This makes deer more sensitive to blue light which makes blue a bad choice to wear if you don’t want to be spotted. 

Can Deer See In The Dark?

However, they may not see as many colors as we do but deer can see up to 18 times better in the dark than we can, and this is thanks to the higher number of rods in their eyes.

Their eyes have evolved this way because it is much more important for their survival to be able to see in the dark than it is to see colors. 

As well as this, a lot of herbivores including deer have pupils that are horizontal so that it can absorb a lot more light than circular pupils.

Deer also lack a UV filter in their eye which means that they are more sensitive to UV light which they can see being emitted by some clothing if UV brightening agents have been used by the manufacturers.

Keep in mind that a lot of detergents also use UV brighteners so to prevent yourself from being spotted you should use some UV killer to prevent yourself from glowing from the deer’s perspective. 

How Far Can Deer See?

As deer are herbivores and are hunted by many different species of animals including humans on a daily basis,

they have evolved to have their eyes in a position at the sides of their head which allows them to have a wider field of vision than we have. 

It is said that they have a range of view of 310 degrees and if you compare that to our measly 180 degree range of view, it is clear how much deer can see without even having to turn their head.

This leaves the deer with a blind spot of just 50 degrees, leaving you with a small window to sneak up on them in. 

However, even though they can see more than us, they are said to have a vision of 20/100 which is not as clear as our 20/20 vision.

In other words, this means that what a deer can see at 20 feet is just as clear as something that we can see at 100 feet. 

Deer do not have to see things as clear as we do though because all they have to know is if the object is a threat or not which is why they are also more sensitive to movement than we are and their horizontal pupils allow them to detect movement without having to move much. 

How To Be Invisible To Deer

So, now that we have covered how deer see the world, how do we use this information into choosing the right clothes to wear when we are tracking deer? 

Essentially, the clothes you should avoid is anything that is blue or has UV brightening as this is what deer are most sensitive to, this includes blue jeans. 

It is not necessary, but you can wear pretty much any camouflage as long as it has darker colors and matches the environment around you but don’t worry if it doesn’t match perfectly as deer do not see as clearly as we do. 

For best results, you can also focus on getting camouflage that has large patterns and brown colors that contrast with each other which will make you look blurrier as you get further away.

Even though it seems to be a popular choice among hunters, you should avoid wearing all black because this will separate you from the environment which will be picked up by the deer even from a good distance away as they can tell the distinguish black from the browns and greens found in their natural environment. 

Keep in mind that deer also have a very good sense of smell and hearing abilities so it is also recommended to wear something as silent as possible as well as controlling your scent as this can be said is more important than what you wear.

You can control how your scent travels by standing upwind or by using products that are specifically made for scent covering.

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