How to Choose Camouflage Clothing for Hunting Whitetail Deer
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While it’s true that whitetail deer have an extraordinary range of senses (some of which are far superior to humans), such as their sense of hearing and smelling senses. They use these senses to fully experience their world in order to find food and avoid predators. Their visual acuity is considerably less than that of humans due to the internal structure of their eyes, this is because they specifically lack a “Fovia,” which is a region found only in the internal structure of the eyes of primates that is responsible for human's extraordinary visual acuity.
Controversy has existed for many years now concerning whether or not deer can see color with some scientist claiming that deer have only monochromatic vision and thus, they are not able to see color. But, according to research conducted from August 24 to August 29, 1993, at the University of Georgia D. B. Warnell School of Forest Resources in Athens, Georgia by Dr. R. Larry Marchinton and Dr. Karl V. Miller of the University of Georgia with a staff of graduate students headed by Brian Murphy as research coordinator, the internal structure of a deer’s eye was closely examined using a non-invasive method and it was determined that deer can indeed see color; although not in the same way that we humans do. This is because the acute color vision that humans experience is enabled by photoreceptors contained within the eye called “rods,” which are responsible for low-light vision and “cones” which are then responsible for daylight vision and, the same is true with deer.
The human eye contains three types of cone photoreceptors (called trichromatic vision) which provides humans with excellent color vision by allowing them to see light in the red, blue, and green wavelengths. Whereas, whitetail deer, on the other hand, have only two types of cone photoreceptors (called dichromatic vision) which severely limits their perception of the color spectrum compared to humans because they can only see light in the blue and green wavelengths. Therefore, deer vision is far less sensitive to the various shades of red that human eyes see so clearly.
Under normal circumstances, deer most likely see the blaze orange that most hunters are required to wear as either a shade of brown or gray. However, on the other hand, the internal structure of a deer’s eyes allows them to see well into the ultraviolet spectrum and thus, objects which reflect ultraviolet light appear much brighter to a deer’s eyes than they do to a human’s. Furthermore, human skin reflects a considerable amount of light and thus, any part of the human body that is exposed stands out like a beacon to a deer. Therefore, it is imperative that whitetail deer hunters wear appropriate camouflage clothing in order to avoid detection unless they are hunting from a fully enclosed ground blind or an elevated blind.
But, what type of camouflage clothing is appropriate for deer hunters? Well, that depends on the type of habitat you are hunting in. For instance, when hunting in dense, hardwood, forests, you need a camouflage pattern that will blend with the surrounding foliage but, when hunting in a cornfield, you need a pattern that blends with the rows of corn. Also, there are camouflage patterns specifically designed for hunting in pine forests as well as patterns specifically designed for hunting in open sagebrush range.
The type of camouflage pattern that you choose should match the type of habitat that you intend to hunt and, if you intend to hunt more than one type of habitat, then you should purchase a camouflage pattern that is appropriate for each type of foliage. Also, it should be noted that camouflage clothing is available in a wide range of weights ranging from ultra light (aka Savannah weight) for hunting in hot weather to heavily insulated clothing for hunting in colder weather. Furthermore, there are several different brands of camouflage clothing that incorporate one system or another designed to eliminate your human scent such as an activated charcoal lining.
Eastern Deer Hunting
Because Eastern deer hunters generally hunt deer in dense foliage from a tree stand at close range which leaves them completely exposed if the deer happen to note any movement by the hunter and thus decide to look up (which they do not normally do), tree stand hunters need camouflage clothing that breaks up their outline and blends with both the foreground and the background. Therefore, when hunting Whitetail Deer from a stand in the trees, most Eastern hunters tend to prefer camouflage clothing with a dark background and either a three dimensional, leaf-shaped, pattern such as the Mossy Oak New Break-Up pattern or, clothing with pieces of leaf-shaped fabric sewn onto the outside. Also, it is imperative that the hunter is covered from head to toe and thus, camouflage gloves, a camouflage face mask, and a camouflage hat should also be worn.
Western Deer Hunting
Western whitetail deer hunters on the other hand often hunt deer in far less dense pine forests or on open sagebrush range and therefore, they often require a different type of camouflage pattern than Eastern hunters. Therefore, camouflage patterns designed for Western tree stand hunters often incorporate a pine foliage print with a light background designed to enable them to blend in with the tree that they are perched in as well as the open sky behind them. However, other times, Western whitetail hunters are forced to hunt in open terrain from the ground. But, these hunters generally engage their targets at much longer ranges than tree stand hunters and thus, while it is still imperative to choose a camouflage pattern that blends well with the type of foliage that you are hunting in, it is often unnecessary for Western whitetail deer hunters who hunt from the ground to wear a facemask and gloves since a hat or cap will provide shade for the face which makes it difficult for the deer to see the hunter at long ranges. However, deer that inhabit such open terrain are very adept at noticing movement of any sort and thus, an appropriate camouflage pattern combined with stealthy movement is required to enable the hunter to approach the deer to within an acceptable range for a precision shot.
Hunting in the Snow
All U.S. States, as well as all Canadian Provinces, do not open their deer seasons until late fall and thus, when hunting whitetails in northern latitudes, this often means hunting well after the first snow. Therefore, while snow certainly makes it easier to both see and track deer, it also requires a specialized camouflage pattern designed to blend in with snow-covered trees. In addition, camouflage clothing that incorporates this type of pattern also generally features thick insulation to enable the hunter to remain still in his or her stand for extended periods.
Regardless of whether you are an Eastern, Western, Southern, or Northern deer hunter and, regardless of whether you choose to hunt from the ground or a stand in the trees, you will need to be certain to choose an appropriate camouflage pattern for the type of habitat you intend to hunt in and avoid being seen by your quarry.