View Full Version : Deer and UV spectrum

October 29, 2009, 11:30 AM
I read a post on here talking about deer seeing UV spectrum. I had read that many moons ago. And what I read said Tide laundry soap was bad about "glowing." Are there any other typical laundry soaps that also do this? Are there any clothing materials that give off a "glow?" I know there are nonscented hunting soaps that I'm sure work. In that post I also read that deer see in more than just black and white (and greys). Does anyone know what other colors they see?

October 29, 2009, 05:21 PM
Anything which has been bleached or treated with other reactant chemicals will fluoresce under UV light. You can test this yourself with one of those little UV penlights or other gadgets off eBay.

October 30, 2009, 07:41 AM
The UV brightness is not really a "color". Somewhere (on one of my hunting forums) I found a list of laundry loaps that don't contain UV brightners. One of the ones that didn't was Cheer. There were VERY few others on the list that don't contain brightners.

Hog Buster
November 1, 2009, 01:24 AM
Do deer see in the UV spectrum? Well maybe they do and maybe they don't. Can deer see color? Why not, every other animal does. The question is do they know what they are looking at? How many times have you thought you saw something that turned out to be something else? Many I'm sure. If what you see is motionless it's a damn sight harder to figure out what it is than something that's moving. Here lies the secret to successful hunting , be still.

I've hunted mule deer in California and whitetail in Louisiana plus many places in between. I've hunted them dressed in everything from white shirts to camouflage and have had much success. Deer do see movement, sometimes even the slightest thereof . These critters have superman hearing too. At over a hundred yards they are able to hear the click of a safety being taken off, be quiet too.

I kinda believe this UV thing is like the color thing with deer, BS. Shucks I remember when folks thought that deer never looked up in trees and started climbing them like monkeys in order to kill more. They quickly learned that at the slightest movement, or sound, the deer looked them right in the eye, up in the tree or not.

Believe what you will about what deer can or can't see, but when hunting them being still and being quiet will give you a lot more opportunities for success than what you wear, or how you wash it.

phil mcwilliam
November 1, 2009, 04:56 AM
It is generally accepted that deer see colours more towards the blue end of the colour spectrum, rather than the orange colours on the other end of the colour spectrum. This is why hunters wear blaze orange, which deer suposedly find hard to see. Optical brighteners such as Uvitex are added to some laundry powders - "to make your whites brighter". These optical brighteners are towards the far end of the blue colour spectrum & do react under a UV light, so to a deer they may seem to glow an electric blue colour.

November 1, 2009, 09:55 AM
That is precisly why I do not take my wife hunting. Between the hot air and all the noise, BLA,BLA,BLA everything within 20 miles knows we are there.

November 1, 2009, 10:24 AM
During my mule deer and elk (tried but never shot an elk) hunting days I did not wear a shred of camo. Blaze orange vest and cap made me conspicuous to hunters but not to the critters. Without stealth I walked up to three mule deer in the Sierras near Bishop, CA, sat on a stump about 30 feet away, fussed a bit, did not shoot any of them because I was hunting the "big one" and they were not big, felt the breeze on my face, and they continued browsing with an occasional glance at me. The breeze shifted and was on their noses and immediately they sensed a threat, barked a few times, and ran away.

Same story with a pair of elk outside Eagle, Colorado.

My friend's girlfriend shot a +200 pound whitetail near Roxie, MS while wearing street clothes and perfume. She was downwind of the deer. From that same deerstand I watched many deer walk by me while eating a sandwich and turning the pages of a magazine and wearing not a stitch of camo.

Conclusion: the color and pattern of your hunting clothes makes no difference to deer and elk.

November 1, 2009, 10:31 AM
Conclusion: the color and pattern of your hunting clothes makes no difference to deer and elk.

So why do deer hunters spend a zillion dollars on camo clothing??

Tuzo... man you've just shutdown an entire industry!

I don't deer hunt so don't have any personal experience. But just wow!

(I like to hunt creatures with feathers)

November 1, 2009, 10:53 AM
Conclusion: the color and pattern of your hunting clothes makes no difference to deer and elk.

Well color may matter little. I do think a solid color... any color... is making an un-natural presentation the deer rarely would see in nature. So some sorts of random contrasting color to break up the solids is going to help. Also I think deer see the "V" of our arms as well as the "/\" of our legs easier in solids and that shape is a warning trigger to skidaddle the area post haste!:D They know the "V" equals TOP PREDATOR.

November 1, 2009, 11:02 AM
The concept of the V and the /\ very interesting.

I've never read or heard of this before but makes sense to me.

Art Eatman
November 1, 2009, 11:16 AM
Deer--and other critters--don't see colors. Their world is varying shades of gray. That's what the medical scientists have been reporting for many decades, anyway. White--and white is the lightest shade of their gray--is a danger signal if it's moving.

Birds see colors, which is why camo is a Good Thing for turkey, duck and dove hunters. Camo doesn't help a walking hunter who's after quail or pheasant; they see the motion. Camo doesn't do much of anything of significance for deer hunters or varmint hunters. Dull earth-toned clothing works just fine; GoodWill is your friend. :)

Doves are said to see the color blue as an indicator of danger or some otherwise undesirable area or presence.

UV "glow"? I don't know. It never seemed to affect my own deer hunting productivity. Scent and motion appear to be the most important factors.

November 1, 2009, 03:06 PM
I agree that camo helps bird hunters a lot. Maybe not too much help for upland birds but certainly water fowl. No help for varmint hunters - my camo-less neighbor in California had a profitable sideline shooting bobcat and coyote.

An update to my friend's hunting attire compared to his girlfriend's street clothes and perfume: he has about every bit of camo, scent mask, charcoal absorbing bit of paraphanalia found in Cabela's catalog. He is a successful hunter but his girlfriend and I have proven two things to him over the past several years. 1) Camo shmamo, deer don't seem to care or notice. 2) At 100 yards my 30-06 is just as accurate as his 7mm magnum and with less recoil (this is an ongoing contest).

Hog Buster
November 1, 2009, 05:45 PM
While I don't believe deer only see in shades of gray or have UV vision I do know that they're many times spooked by foreign objects in the woods. I've seen them freeze and snort at a newly nailed posted sign or newly installed tree stand and even a freshly felled tree. They sure don't know what they're looking at, but it's something that wasn't there in the past. I watched several stop in their tracks, snort and paw the ground when stumbling on someone's four wheeler parked in the woods. After a bit of examination they all took off in the opposite direction. For me this is a pretty good argument for putting deer stands out early, really early. The stand I generally hunt from has been in the same place for years and the deer pay no attention to it.

Camouflage has it's place. When dressed in it subtle movements are much harder to see, therefore I use it most times. However you sure can't do jumping-jacks in it and expect the deer to stay put.

Double Naught Spy
November 1, 2009, 09:06 PM
See this article. It should be enlightening and have glowing reviews (pun intended)

November 1, 2009, 10:20 PM
Anybody notice that washing camo too often makes it whiter (i.e. flouresce more)? I'm talking about the actual pattern degrading to less outline reducing. I have noticed it with mine an am careful not to use uv-brightening soap. A buddy of mine washed his so often we called his camo "fado-flage" - they were looking like painters coveralls! He still killed deer. I think if you set your treestands high enough w. intelligent wind placement you could be dressed as a Sta-Puff marshmallow and still kill deer!:D:D

Hog Buster
November 1, 2009, 10:30 PM
Hey 00 Spy

This line about their study speaks volumes to me. "The computer interprets these responses and translates them into a "scientific best guess" of what deer can actually see."

In the early days of railroading a study with a "scientific best guess" said that if trains went faster than 30 MPH all the air would be sucked out of the coaches and the passengers would suffocate.

So much for best guesses.

Lawyer Daggit
November 1, 2009, 10:40 PM
Hogbuster is onto something- I find with Fallow deer here that you can drive close to them all day long in a tractor or diesel 4x4 but as soon as you go near them in a car using a normal internal combustion motor or get out of the vehicle they run.

Simply because a lot of farmers are going about their daily affairs and are not interested in pursuing the deer and this has conditioned them to the diesel 4x4 or tractor not being a threat.

Hog Buster
November 1, 2009, 10:51 PM
Amen Lawyer buddy.

The deer around here slowly walk back into the woods when a big green John Deere approaches, but let them see a pickup and they become rocket propelled. The same holds true for our coyotes, they pay no attention to the tractors, but haul ass when seeing a pickup.

Most critters are just like us, creatures of habit, formed by their environment.

Double Naught Spy
November 2, 2009, 06:35 AM
Hey 00 Spy

This line about their study speaks volumes to me. "The computer interprets these responses and translates them into a "scientific best guess" of what deer can actually see."

In the early days of railroading a study with a "scientific best guess" said that if trains went faster than 30 MPH all the air would be sucked out of the coaches and the passengers would suffocate.

So much for best guesses.

Wow Hog Buster, you are a funny dude. The article supported your "beliefs" about deer not just seeing in grays and UV, but you have discounted it and a tremendous amount of science, in general, because of some unsupported story about the belief that air would be sucked out of trains from what, 150 years ago? Along those lines, since you made a mistake in your very distant past and probably many more recently, then there is no reason to trust a thing that you say. So much for your opinions. :p

The computer's best guess is an assessment of biological structures within the eye and what they are known to do in other animals. Cones allow for better daylight seeing of color and detail and rods allow for better vision at night (generalization). So the structures are there. What the deer's brain does with that ability may be a different story, but not likely.

How about you contact an animal psychic on the matter and get back with us on the results.

Hog Buster
November 2, 2009, 10:47 AM
00 Spy

I wouldn't say they supported my opinion, it was more like they said we don't really know what deer see.

As for opinions, they're kinda like..........well............scientific best guesses, everybody has one.......:)

Art Eatman
November 2, 2009, 12:27 PM
Hog Buster, sorry, but the medical science boffins have studied this color thing over and over for decades--since long before computers. The conclusions have been consistent throughout the research. I recall reading some on it back in the WW II era, about the use of pigeons to spot Mae West life jackets in the ocean.

Animals, as well as people, observe patterns, whether stationary or of movement. "Was that stump there, yesterday?" "Is that the regularly seen noisy beast, or is it something new and dangerous?"

Turkeys are said to be the best at pattern recognition, as well as being able to see colors. That's why hunting them is generally more difficult than for deer. A turkey will instantly recognize a change in the pattern of its surroundings--and any change is by definition dangerous and so Leaving Is Good.

On ranches, the rancher drives across a pasture at roughly as high a speed as the roadway allows. The deer get used to that behavior, that pattern. When a hunter drives along slowly, that's a different pattern. Different Is Bad.

Lotsa folks don't realize how far a human voice will carry from the windows of a pickup. I've sat and watched deer as a pickup approached. I heard the two hunters talking before I heard engine noises or tires on gravel--and so did the deer. Guess who never saw a deer?

And so it goes...

November 2, 2009, 02:00 PM
Deer are like Dogs and cats in that they are dichromats. They only have two types of color cones on their eyes. Meaning that while they can technically see color, there is much less variation in what they can see.

Humans and many birds are trichromats. Where we have three types of color cones in our eyes. This gives us the ability to differentiate a far wider range of colors than dichromats.

There is also the issue of the wiring of the brain. Humans have evolved to place priority on our sense of vision where other animals treat vision as equal to or secondary to smell and sound. Thus animals like Deer are not as well able to utilize their sense of vision vs humans.

This line about their study speaks volumes to me. "The computer interprets these responses and translates them into a "scientific best guess" of what deer can actually see."

So much for best guesses.

Though when you start to think about it, how do we know exactly what another persons sees? Does the color Blue as I see it look the same to you? How do we really know if what is "Blue" to me is not "Red" to you and what is "Green" to you is not "Red" to me. Short of warping into a persons mind there is no way to tell for certain. All colors are is our brains interpretation of the signals sent from our eyes and there is nothing that says those interpretations are the same. Sure we can all agree that the sky is Blue, but how do we tell exactly what "blue" is from another persons perspective?

Hog Buster
November 2, 2009, 04:53 PM
Hey guys! While I was messing around on this forum last night my chicken coop had a visitor.

Just wondering what colors you think I should wear tonight when I send him to heaven?

November 2, 2009, 06:25 PM
I don't know about anything a deer can see but I was dressed in complete camo while bow hunting about a week ago and I walked right up on a 2 year old buck. I froze to try and get an arrow up and ready, but he started my way so I stoped all movements. I was completely out in the open with nothing but open woods around the both of us. The buck walked within 10 feet of me and never seen me. He would look my way but then go back to eating for about 15 mins I stood frozen in time watching the most amazing thing I have had happen so far in my time of hunting. He finaly walked off back into the thick brush he came from. I wear camo to help blend and break my outlines up and this memery will forever remind me that I haven't made the wrong move in doing so.

November 2, 2009, 07:12 PM
Yup, animals like deer have their vision tuned to see motion and not necessarily look for patterns that would indicate a predator like humans have. They rely on their sense of smell and hearing for that. Thus if you stand still they have a hard time seeing you.

I had that happen often with dogs on my paper routes. I would hear them running to the window and just freeze and stay perfectly still before they got to the window. They would be looking attentively through the window. Sometimes they would leave other times they would just stand there. Most only "saw" me and started barking when I moved.

Art Eatman
November 3, 2009, 10:23 AM
Vignette: I once watched a doe walk up to within maybe twenty feet of a hunter. He was wearing Levis jeans and jacket and sitting on a stump out in an open area with no brush really close by. He sat absolutely still. The doe knew that the stump didn't look righteous, but without any motion to spook her, her curiosity had her checking it out.

She stomped around and bobbed her head. He never reacted, and she finally wandered off.

Staying with deer and coyote hunting: Wildlife is horizontal. People is vertical. :) Animals cue on motion, and different is by definition bad. Vertical is different, right?

I dunno. I learned how to sorta ooze along in the woods, moving slowly from tree to tree and letting dull earth-toned clothing make me into some sort of strange growth on a tree that didn't really stand out as being an obvious different thing.

One thing I've noticed through the years with other folks out hunting: Moving camo attracts MY eyes quicker than somebody in--for example--solid khaki in dead-grass country.

Double Naught Spy
November 3, 2009, 10:56 AM
Yeah, you really should pick the correct camo for your environment.

Hog Buster
November 3, 2009, 02:13 PM
00 Spy

Good idea, I'll stick on a few feathers and look like Big Bird that should do the trick...;)

November 4, 2009, 04:00 AM
A few random stories about being seen, heard and smelled by deer. They prove nothing at all of course.

I once had a full length blaze orange hunting coat. I was walking through a plowed field late one evening wearing that coat, when I turned a corner, and there were a few (3-4) deer in the field. I stood still, but the old doe spotted me, but just kept snapping her head up trying to catch me moving. As long as I stayed still, they kept on feeding. As soon as I moved, she snorted, and off they went.

On stand once, I was wearing a blaze orange hat and pretty much camo everything else. A bunch of does came out 50-60 yards away (too far for buckshot). One of the does, looked right at me and came to attention. Gradually she looked away. When she did, I took off my hat and tucked it out of sight. The next time when she looked up at me, she paid me no mind and went back to browsing. I put my hat on. She spotted me right away. This went on through several cycles. Every time I had the hat on, she spotted me right away. It didn't "scare" her, but it did put her on alert. Eventually the dogs got too close, and they moved on.

A few days ago, I was squirrel hunting. I was leaning against a big tree when four or five deer came over the hill. At first they ignore me, but finally the bigger doe moved to where she had a clear view. Now I was just wearing a sweat shirt and pants, with a camo hunting vest over them. She spotted me right away and the stare down started. I tried not to move. She kept locked on me. Before too long one of the others must have seen me because she locked her vision on me too. I stood there for must have been five or more minutes before I finally got tired of the game, and moved. As soon as I moved, up went the tails, I heard a wheeze, and off they went.
They saw something out of place, alerted on it and watched it until they figured out what it was.

My grandfather used to hunt Civil War relics with a metal detector. When deer season was open, he'd put a rope on his Fox double, and sling it over his neck. I don't know how many deer he killed doing that but it was more than a few. He said the deer paid him no mind at all because he didn't move like a hunter so they didn't see him as a danger. He was walking in the woods, making no attempt at being quiet, digging holes in the ground, and so on. Was he right? Who knows. He had the results to prove it.

How many times have you heard of deer being attracted to a chain saw? I'm not a wood-cutter, but I've had people tell me they've been cutting on one end of a log and seen deer eating off the other end. People I have no doubt were telling the truth. Maybe we need to carry chain saws as calls. I know deer around here pay no attention at all to the kids in the yard yelling and screaming, and the yard dogs barking. They might look up when they hear the noise, but they don't really alert. Just more a curious look.

None of this proves anything other than you never know what a deer will do or how they'll react. And bucks react a lot differently than does.