Blaze Orange Saves Lives
While hunting is one of the safest ways to enjoy the outdoors, hunters who don’t wear blaze orange are more at risk. In 2010, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife reported that in the past 20 years, 81 percent of victims in vision-related hunting incidents were not wearing hunter orange clothing.
Wearing blaze orange will decrease your chances of being mistaken for game. Since you can’t control factors such as other hunters, it’s crucial to make your presence known by wearing blaze orange.
“Hunter orange is the absolute best way to distinguish yourself from a game animal,” said Rod Slings, Iowa DNR Law Enforcement Supervisor (retired), CEO/Founder of Hunting and Shooting Related Consultants, LLC. “On top of wearing blaze orange to be safe, hunters also should check with their state to see what the legal requirements are for hunter orange.”
What type and amount of hunter orange works best? Well, decide for yourself. This video puts the various styles and amount of hunter orange side by side—clearly showing what works and what doesn’t.
The differences are obvious. A plain orange vest isn’t nearly as effective as the combination of a blaze orange jacket and hat. The hat and jacket were noticeable far away, even in dense cover. It’s all about maximizing your presence to other hunters and minimizing the risk of being misidentified.
Slings added, “Non-hunters aren’t exempt from the rule. If you are in the woods hiking, photographing, walking your dog or whatever you might be doing, you need to be wearing blaze orange.”
Sadly enough, there have been many reports of misidentification resulting in an injury or fatality. It isn’t always a hunter shooting another hunter either. To Slings’ point, anyone strolling through the woods or fields during hunting season is vulnerable and should be wearing blaze orange to reduce that risk.
Without blaze orange to clearly identify them, people and domestic animals may look like a target to a far-away hunter. For example, Slings reports an incident during deer season in 2010 that involved a hunter wearing a “sandwich-board” style orange vest, just like we talked about in the video. The vest covers only the chest and back, leaving the sides exposed. The victim in this case was hunting in brown coveralls, and as he walked through the standing unpicked cornfield one of his hunting companions saw what he thought was a deer walking down the rows of corn. The observing hunter couldn’t see the blaze orange due to the exposed sides. Where things went wrong is when the shooter shot his 12 gauge toward what he thought was the deer, striking the victim in the upper leg.
Tragedies like that remind us to take precautions and wear blaze orange because it can save a life. This alone should be reason enough to always wear orange when in the woods during hunting season.
But what about the hunter whose main goal is to take an animal? Will hunter orange limit their chances of success? Many hunters are concerned orange will spook game such as the white-tailed deer.
Research says blaze orange won’t give you away when deer hunting—the deer can’t see it.
“While research has confirmed that deer are not colorblind, they don’t perceive colors the same way as humans. In particular, deer lack the ability to see long wavelength colors such as red and orange,” said Brian Murphy, wildlife biologist and CEO of the Quality Deer Management Association. “This means they cannot distinguish orange from other long wavelength colors such as green or red. In contrast, deer see short wavelength colors better than humans, especially the blues. Therefore, hunters would be more disadvantaged wearing blue jeans than blaze orange while hunting.”
If you are concerned about being detected by deer, you should consider other factors such as tree stand position, breaking up your outline, and scent control. Deer senses are far better tuned for spotting motion, seeing outlined figures and identifying scent than seeing blaze orange.
Given that blaze orange is highly unlikely to scare deer away, there is no good reason for hunters to not wear blaze orange, even if it’s not required. Wearing blaze orange ensures that other hunters will know you are a human, not a game animal, and something they shouldn’t shoot at.
Wearing blaze orange is one important strategy for staying safe. Learn about more ways to stay safe while hunting with the hunter safety courses at www.hunter-ed.com.
Courses include more videos and lessons about tree stand safety, safe zones of fire, ballistics, plus much more to improve your safety in the field. All material is the same as is taught in formal hunting education classes and is approved by state agencies in 40 states.