Are Deer Color Blind?

Are deer color blind? Many people have questions about a deer’s vision. The fact is, deer have color vision. However, a deer’s vision is much different from that of humans. This article discusses whitetail vision specifically.

Rods and Cones

The biggest difference is the fact that deer have scattered rods and fewer cones. Cones and rods are photoreceptors that dictate eyesight. Rods detect different movements and changes in light, while cones allow focus on detail.

Because deer have fewer cones, their color vision is lacking. For example, humans have three cones that allow us to see red, green, and blue. Deer only possess two of these cones, meaning they can only see blue and red.

Red and Green

Deer can’t tell the difference between green and red. However, they can see blue very clearly. Because deer have a larger number of rods, their field of vision is wider but more blurry.

Many people wonder if deer can see certain patterns like camouflage. In the next section, we’ll discuss this question of color vision in greater detail.

Can Deer See Camo Patterns?

When you hunt, you don’t need to wear a camo pattern. However, it does help to disguise you while you’re in the woods.

Camo doesn’t play a significant role in movement or controlling scents, but it does give you a better advantage. This pattern does a few specific jobs on deer’s eyes and when it comes to giving you the upper hand.

Breaking the Shadows

When you dress in camouflage, it breaks your silhouette in your surroundings. These break-up patterns when you wear camo increase your chances of remaining hidden.

The best type of camo has larger patterns and contrasting brown colors. As you move further away, it becomes harder for deer to detect you. Camo with green patterns may be popular, but they are not as effective at keeping you hidden.

Another popular argument is whether deer can see jeans. Many hunters insist that wearing blue jeans is harmful to your stealth, while others maintain that it isn’t that important.

Can Deer Eyes See Blue Jeans?

According to certain tests conducted, deer can actually see blue jeans fairly well. Because deer are red-green colorblind, this means that they see orange and red as shades of green.

Seeing Blue

The specific type of vision that deer have means that they are extremely sensitive to short-wavelength blue light, and see well in low light. This means that blue jeans probably aren’t the best thing to wear while you’re in the woods hunting because of a deer’s eye.

The hunters that made this assumption were right, after all. Another popular topic is whether deer see pink camo. Many times, women who hunt choose to sport pink camouflage. Is this a good idea when it comes to a deer’s eye?

Can Deer Eyes See Pink Camo?

The main idea of wearing camo is to break up the outline of your body. This subsequently makes it harder for deer to spot your movement. It doesn’t necessarily make you invisible or help you to blend in with the colors of the forest.

This is why hunters often wear blaze orange. When women wear pink camo, the chances are very high that deer will notice this pattern, just like they would notice green forest camo. The better option is to wear orange while you’re hunting. 

Can Deer See Well During the Night?

Deer have a much higher number of rods. Whenever there is a large concentration of rods within the eye, vision is more efficient in darkness and low light. A deer’s vision advantage is its ability to see at night. 

A tapetum lucidum always exists on the back of a deer eye, which acts as a reflective substance. This reflective substance promotes the bouncing of light back and forth between the eye and the retina. Because of this unique characteristic, deer see 50 times better than humans at night.

The pupils of a deer also allow more light to enter, which makes their night vision much better. Deer’s ability doesn’t make them nocturnal, but they do see much better at night with low light conditions. 

Think about it; this is why you see deer moving more at night. They can see the obstacles in their path much better by traveling this way.

Can Deer See Well During the Day?

Deer may see better with low light, but they cannot focus. Their eyes are also further apart. They may have a wider range of vision, but that vision is blurred significantly. It’s very difficult to determine how far an object is in terms of distance.

An example of the difference between deer and human vision is the fact that we can see words and letters clearly. Deer see things like this and get distracted by other things in the area.

Can Deer Detect Movement?

One area that deer excel in is their ability to detect movement. This is because of the adaptation of their eyes. Their eyes are much wider, and because of the way they’re set, they sense even the slightest bit of motion.

This is why you may have heard hunters talk about the importance of remaining still in the woods. A movement that may seem insignificant to us is easily picked up by a deer.

How Far Away Can Deer See?

Deer have a unique positioning of their eyes. Because of this, their range of view is almost a full 360-degrees. A human can only see 180-degrees of what’s around them. This means that they have a much better view of the things beside them.

However, there is a downfall when it comes to this range of vision. Their clarity isn’t very efficient, especially at long distances. They are only able to see clearly when things are directly in front of them. Anything that is a considerable distance isn’t going to be very clear to them.

Deer Senses

Remember that deer vision increases when blue is involved. This means that deer can see ultraviolet light. When light levels are low, clothes that emit higher levels of UV light will appear to glow to a deer.

When you’re hunting, you should avoid any clothing that has UV brighteners. Laundry detergent also contains UV brighteners as a way to whiten clothes. You should avoid wearing any clothes washed in these types of detergents if you want to remain undetectable to deer.

Deer Sense of Smell

Deer have a sense of smell that is much better than a human. Many studies claim that deer have a sense of smell that is on par with that of a dog. This means that it is about 1,000-times stronger than ours.

Scent control is also important when you’re hunting. These are some of the best ways to control your scent when you hunt:

Deer Tips

  • Hunt with the wind. This means avoiding moving in the direction the wind is blowing. When you’re moving, you should walk against the wind. This will ensure that your scent isn’t blowing towards the area you’re approaching. If you’re walking with the wind, this means the breeze will blow your scent toward any deer in your path, which will scare them away.
  • Use scent-free detergents to avoid alerting deer of your presence. Any unnatural scent will also spook them away, and they will absolutely pick up on any scent of detergents or colognes.
  • You can purchase deer attractants to cover your scent and lure deer to come closer to you. Depending on the specific scent you use, you will either attract higher levels of male or female deer.

What Should I Wear Hunting?

When you’re hunting, you can wear anything besides blue-colored clothing or anything that’s UV-brightened. Camouflage works, but it’s not nearly as effective as avoiding blue and UV-brightened clothes. It’s perfectly fine to wear blaze orange or anything that reflects light.

If you do wear anything that’s camo-colored, make sure it matches your environment. You don’t have to match perfectly because camo enhances your undetectability and helps with movement. Remember, camo is more about hiding your movements than being invisible.

You should also avoid wearing all black. A black outline will stand out to a deer and make it easier for them to see your movements. LED light stimulus should also be avoided.


Deer vision is extremely keen, but they are also limited in other ways. The most important thing to remember when you’re hunting is to avoid black outlines, anything blue, and limit your range of motion!

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