Each fall as hunting begins to occupy the thoughts of hunters, the controversy about wearing blaze orange rears its ugly head.  Some see it as a way to prevent suffering a gunshot would or a wound from an errant arrow.  Others regard it as just a nuisance that costs additional money better spent elsewhere.

Upland hunters need to wear it on certain occasions by law.

Regardless it is the law in many situations and so we comply or get a ticket from a conservation police officer.

Perhaps the main reason we deer and upland game hunters wear blaze orange is due to the laws in many areas we hunt. Another reason is that we hear over and over that it is safer than not wearing the color.   I once interviewed a man recovering from a shooting accident while leaving his treestand at dusk.  He wished he had worn an orange vest to alert a trespasser on his property who mistook him for a deer.  What really is the reason?

Mammals have eyes that contain a retina on the back of the eye ball. There are about a quarter billion photo receptors in the retina. They are rods and cones. The rods and cones absorb different wavelengths of light.

We use the rods for dim-light and vision to the peripheral areas surrounding us. Although they are more sensitive to light, they do not provide either sharp images or color vision. That is what makes low light images appear fuzzy as does the images to the sides of our field of vision. Rods are very sensitive and respond best to dim light. They absorb all wavelengths of visible light but their input is perceived only in gray tones.

The cones work in bright light to give us great color vision. Cones need bright light for activation but have pigments that furnish a vivid color view of the world.

The addition or lack of light as when we move from darkness into bright light is adapted to automatically as the retina adjusts to the amount of light present.

With humans bright colors such as blaze orange look bright. A filter that blocks about 99 percent of UV light from entering the eye protects the human eye. It is like sunglasses.

Blaze orange absorbs UV rays that humans cannot see and turn them into longer wavelengths they can see. The orange reflects less UV that animals see well and more of the rays they do not.

This color correction perceived by game becomes a neutral gray. It is still highly visible to other hunters and has resulted in blaze orange being required of hunters in the field.

Lawmakers are not in the business of creating a clothing industry.  Blaze orange laws are the result of scientific study and intended to promote hunting safely.  In some areas they have made a significant contribution in the reduction of hunter injuries.




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  1. Too many people who say ….if it is brown it is down. That is the reason why i wear orange.

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