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If you’re trying to sneak up on a deer or pheasant, possibly decked out in some camouflage, it may not seem to make sense to top it off with a neon orange vest or hat. After all, wouldn’t that make you more noticeable?
Here’s the good news – it does. But just to other hunters, and that helps make you more noticeable (and safe) as you traverse the woods or fields.
But to deer, that bright-as-bright-can-be orange looks more like white or gray, as deer see most colors poorly. But in the low-light conditions of dusk and dawn, deer do pick up especially well on shades of blue and ultraviolet wavelengths– so avoid jeans and laundry detergents that use optical brighteners.
Movement is what really tips deer off, not orange. If you want to avoid a deer detecting your presence, don’t skyline yourself. Don’t stand on a hilltop or silhouette yourself in a lone tree if in a tree stand. Instead, break up your outline and stand behind or in front of a large object, like a tree or brush.
Concerned about the solid orange breaking up your camo pattern? As long as you have a camo jacket or shirt under your vest, it should help keep your presence under wraps to deer.
Blaze orange won’t tip you off to pheasants or quail, either. While birds do see color, their first instinct is to hide, rather than flush and reveal their location. A blaze orange vest keeps you visible with your hunting party and a blaze orange collar or vest also helps keep your favorite hunting buddy – your dog – in your sights and safe.
As a reminder, to hunt deer with a firearm in any season, you must wear one of the following articles of external, visible, solid blaze orange clothing: vest, jacket, coat, sweatshirt, sweater, shirt or coveralls. An orange hat alone is not enough. Hunting blinds used during the shotgun seasons must have a solid blaze orange marking with a minimum of 144 square inches visible in all directions.
To hunt pheasant, quail, gray partridge and ruffed grouse, you must wear at least one of the following articles of visible, external apparel with at least 50 percent of its surface area solid blaze orange in color: hat, cap, vest, coat, jacket, sweatshirt, shirt or coveralls.
For more on blaze orange requirements, please see the Iowa Hunting and Trapping Regulations.