Camo or no Camo? This debate might continue for a very long time to come, as we all have our own idea of what works and what doesn’t. However, we have to ask the question if it is worth the effort to spend thousands of Dollars on Hunting gear and Camo apparel.
So can you go hunting without Camo? The answer is more complicated than a mere yes or no, and there are many factors to take into consideration. On the one side of the fence are those hunters who swear by wearing Camo. Most of them consider the fact that the eyesight of animals differs and when hunting some animals, it might be a necessity to hunt with camo.
Then again, some evidence is provided by a second group of hunters, stating that thousands and thousands of animals are successfully hunted while hunters are wearing no camouflage whatsoever and that successful results can be obtained wearing blue jeans and bright colored shirts. They strongly believe that camo is not a prerequisite for hunting.
Purpose of Camo when hunting
Let’s start at the very beginning: why does Camo even exist? Looking back in history, camouflage was first used in the military. It was Britain who came up with the idea of breaking up the pattern on clothes in the early 1960s.
Now, initially, this was implemented to hide their soldiers from being spotted by foreign soldiers. This means that back then camo was not used to hide from animals, but to make yourself invisible to the human eye, in other words, to deceive the human eye.
Then those initial patterns developed more intensively and many different patterns and colors are nowadays to be seen in a single outfit – all with the purpose of the human vision in mind.
For instance, let’s look at colors that are currently found on camo. The colors green and grey are dominating most outfits. Looking at the animal world, however, you never see animals with green fur.
In fact, in the animal world, you see dots and stripes, fewer colors, and camo. For in their kingdom the camo colors consist of blacks, tans, and browns.
So, for the military it makes perfect sense to blend into the landscape, concealing oneself through countershading and disrupting outlines. When it comes to hunting camo, it gets much simpler – you only need to conceal yourself from your prey, not humans. Except of course, for safety purposes when hunting with other hunters. But that is where blaze orange comes in.
The sole purpose of blending in is to be observed as different scattered pieces of the environment as opposed to a solid blob. However, if this is your only reason for obtaining expensive camouflage clothes, then there might be another way to achieve this. A checkered shirt will do the job just fine.
Just make sure though, that when you go turkey hunting the colors are not bright.
On a completely different note – let’s be honest, hunting clothes are comfortable. The way they are designed and cut allows more freedom of movement and they usually have additional pockets for gear too.
In addition, Camo clothes have another great advantage, being that dirt and bloodstains don’t show up easily on it.
Animal Vision – the Facts
Let’s kick off by discussing deer – they are after all the most wildly discussed hunted animals of all.
Most often we hear people say deer “only see in black and white.” This is, of course, not quite true as they actually have “dichromatic” vision. This simply means that they are able to see blue very intensively but can hardly see any red, and so they are primarily green-red color blind, they cannot distinguish the difference between red and green.
And this is precisely the reason why they have better vision at night.
Dichromatic eyesight means that in contrast to humans, that their eyes have only two types of color cells (cones) as compared to our three. Humans see green, red, and blue, whereas deer only see blue and red. We find the same true for antelope, elk, sheep, pigs, and goats because they all have only the bluish light cells and not the green-yellow cells.
This implies that they can only see in bluish colors, whereas they do not notice red, pink, orange, and purple.
Apart from that, deer cannot distinguish between subtle shades of the colors that they are able to see. That means they will not be able to distinguish between medium blue or light blue, and it will all look the same to them.
So, if you decide not to wear camo gear and go for light blue as opposed to dark blue, it will make no difference to the deer. It will spot you anyway.
We should not think that deer are inferior to humans in all aspects of color vision. In fact, they are superior in many other areas of sight.
For instance, they are much more sensitive to UV light compared to us. They have no filter to block ultraviolet rays from reaching the light-sensitive color cells in their eyes. The human eye the other hand, blocks ultraviolet rays from reaching the light-sensitive color cells.
The reason for deer not blocking the UV rays is that they don’t have color cells that are specifically sensitive to UV ‘colors.’ It is not that they don’t see any UV colors as research suggests that they do indeed perceive at least some UV light.
So this brings us to the question of whether deer can see UV emissions from hunters’ clothing. Since we know now that a deer’s vision is sensitive to UV light, it only makes sense that a hunter’s clothing emitting UV will cause the hunter to “glow” in a low light environment.
Field of Vision
Just for interest sake – deer have a much larger field of vision than humans. Their 270- degree vision (as opposed to the 180-degree vision of the human eye), minimizes their number of blind spots. This undoubtedly protects them from their prey.
As far as birds are concerned, their eyesight and vision are mostly similar to that of humans and so they see basically the same things we do.
Whilst deer and hogs do not have the best eyesight when it comes to color, they have great eyesight when it comes to seeing movement.
Ducks, waterfowl, and turkey have good eyesight, so it might be better to pay attention to what you are wearing. Waterfowl have approximately 7x the sight of humans, so they will notice any movement and unnatural colors. They may even spot your eyeballs from a long distance!
They will immediately spot anything which is different than the environment, so wearing camo is a good idea here.
For a large group of hunters hunting squirrels do not require wearing camo. They seem to be more alerted by movement and sound, so wearing camo is not your first consideration.
What should you really consider when buying camo?
Now that we know what most animals see, it is time to look at what the most important aspects are that we should consider when buying camo.
The answer to when we should use camouflage and what type of camo we should choose is determined by animal vision and perception.
For deer hunting:
We have to keep in mind that although deer have different vision form us and do not see colors as we do, we cannot wear what we want when hunting.
The fact is, even though deer are not completely color blind but do have different vision than us, we cannot make the statement that camo is unnecessary and hunters can wear what they wish.
On the other hand, we often hear the statement that most camouflaged clothes are not designed for deer but for humans.
In order to better understand why hunter camo is not really designed to hide from deer, you need to understand a few simple things:
- The colors and camouflage which exist in the natural world – colors in the natural world are mostly tan, black, and brown. That is what is familiar to animals.
- The marketing of camo to hunters. Is it true that hunter camo is designed to mostly hide from humans and not deer? Whilst it is true that camo designs are geared towards blending in with the environment, the specific patterns are designed to attract the attention of potential buyers.
- Research tells us that deer can spot blue jeans extremely well, so stay away from wearing blue if you go deer hunting.
It is true though, that many hunters do indeed have success stories of hunting deer with blue jeans and a flannel. However, since we know that deer’s eyes are sensitive to blue, it is best to avoid wearing blue.
Why do Hunters wear camo and orange?
The reason for wearing blaze orange is two-folded – it is not because deer do not see orange, but rather that this color is chosen to be extremely visible to other hunters whilst at the same time not being visible to deer.
Blaze orange looks bright grey to deer and so hunters can see each other whilst being almost invisible to deer.
Most of all we wear this color for safety reasons to avoid shooting accidents when hunting.
Conclusion and Summary
So can you go hunting without camo? Yes, absolutely but in certain conditions and circumstances.
Whatever you decide to wear, you have to keep the following in mind:
- Stay away from blue if you are hunting deer.
- Stay away from bright colors if you are hunting turkeys.
- Hunting can be successful if you wear the right clothes for your specific hunt, but it doesn’t always have to be expensive camouflage outfits.
- The best of both worlds is a base color of blaze orange together with a break-up pattern.
- Be aware that UV brightened clothing could scare deer.
- Keep in mind that even if you are wearing the perfect hunting clothes for the type of hunt you are on, the following aspects will influence your hunt:
- Movement – animals are extremely sensitive to, and weary of movement as this could mean a potential predator is close by.
- Weather – pay attention to the direction of the wind as your scent could send your potential kill running off.
- Silhouetting – the human chest and head easily stand out against vegetation.
- The human face – and especially light complexions are easy to spot in the woods.
- Sound – most animals have exceptional hearing and will take off at the slightest indication of any sound.