Are Michigan Deer Dumb? Can’t They See the Blazing Orange Vests?
One of my first jobs was working at Knutson's Sporting Goods in Brooklyn, Michigan. They sell everything from tents to lifejackets, decoys to ice shanties, duck calls to fishing polls, and camouflage. Lots of camouflage.
There are varying brands and types of camo as well: Real Tree, Mossy Oak, Kryptek, and even digital camo. Each one of these has different prints as well and can provide cover in sand, mud, trees, forest floor, and all points in between. It's scary how well someone can blend into their environment while wearing camouflage.
Do Michigan Hunters Orange Vests Stand Out to Deer?
So with all the time and expense that goes into a hunter's attire, why do they seemingly cancel it all out by donning a blaze orange vest? Doesn't that make them stick out like a sore thumb?
Yes and no. But first: why do they wear "Hunters Orange" in Michigan?
So they CAN be seen. I know it seems counter-intuitive but stick with here. When wandering through the woods looking for the elusive Michigan whitetail deer you do your best NOT to be seen by deer.
BUT you also want to do your best to NOT LOOK LIKE A DEER to someone else who is looking to shoot a deer. Thus the bright orange jacket. Michigan law mandates that blaze orange be worn during all firearm seasons.
Deer can perceive colors, many of them in fact, but one color that doesn't show up in their spectrum is orange. What they lose in color, they gain survival skills according to OutdoorLife.com:
Human eyes have more cones than deer eyes, while deer eyes have significantly more rods than ours do. This means that humans can see details more clearly than deer, while deer can see much better than humans in low-light conditions.
As you can see above, humans and deer perceive the color spectrum differently. Deer see far fewer colors, which always them see better in low light. Along with the enhanced night vision comes the inability to see certain colors:
Researchers at UGA helped prove this with a 1992 study, during which they sedated deer, emitted different wavelengths of light into their eyes, and measured the responses in the deer’s brainstem. They found that reds and oranges didn’t even register in the deer’s brain—at least not the same way they would in a human brain.
This might be a way of explaining why most deer don't pay attention to brake lights or turn signals...but it does explain why they don't see hunters orange.