Researchers Develop A Better Blaze Orange

Long gone are the days when wearing a red plaid wool shirt afield while hunting was considered acceptable attire.   Gone, too, are the brown wool pants and coats many hunters used to wear long before the advent of high tech fibers made their market debut.   Now if a trio of vision researchers have their way…soon those blaze orange clothes we are now often required to wear during various hunting seasons may also fade from popular fashion only to be replaced by a new generation of safety materials promising even better results.

Truth is no matter how you feel about wearing blaze orange afield it has definitely revolutionized the safety of our sport.   Undoubtedly countless lives have been saved over the years thanks to hunters who—whether they liked it or not—were required to wear the highly visible clothing.   Still, there is a rather large segment of hunters who maintain that wearing blaze orange is akin to advertising to the deer your presence in the woodlands.   They feel that while blaze clothing may quickly alert another hunter to your location for safety’s sake…it accomplishes the very same result for the deer, as well.

Over the years much has been written by various experts on just exactly what deer see.   Are they completely color blind?   Do they see certain shades of color in their world?   Do they see various bright patterns rather than distinct colors?   It seems there’s about as many theories offering up an explanation as there are distinct patterns of camouflage available on the hunting clothing market.

Personally, I’ve always felt the safety aspect of wearing blaze orange far outweighed any negative aspects of wearing the cloth.   Recently, however, three noted doctors in the opthalmology field have patented a new kind of blaze orange called “Covert Orange.”   The Covert Orange cloth hasn’t hit the stores quite yet…but this revolutionary new material should start becoming available this fall found in certain select retail outlets. 

Dr. Greg Hageman said, “Deer and other game animals differ from humans in that their eyes are sensitive to only two colors, blue and yellow, and they are therefore called ‘dichromatic’. As a result, a human and a deer perceive the color of the same object differently. For example, regular safety orange material stimulates two of our three color-sensitive cells and, as a result, appears as a bright, vivid orange.

In deer, however, the safety orange color stimulates only the yellow-sensitive cells and thus is perceived as yellow. This is the first of two important reasons why Covert Orange™ works. The second reason is due to the fact that under certain conditions, when all of the color sensitive cells of the eye are equally stimulated, the color perceived by the brain is a “neutral point” gray-beige.”

Researcher Dr. Don Anderson said, “This is true for humans as well as deer, however, because humans have three color-sensitive cells in their eyes, as opposed to two for deer, the color combination producing this ‘neutral point’ effect in deer is still perceived as a bright orange by human observers.”

Indeed, this miracle cloth is being touted as appearing highly visible to humans while being far less detectable by the eyes of most big game animals.   Furthermore, this isn’t some sort of spray on substance to mask the ultra violet (UV) properties of the cloth, either.   Instead, this new material is specially color corrected to achieve a new balance of good while virtually removing any of the perceived bad properties of wearing blaze orange.   Perhaps best of all, this 21st Century blaze orange is expected to be legal in all states which is particularly important in the few states that still do not currently allow unbroken (camo) blaze patterns.

So…if you’ve been apprehensive about wearing blaze orange because you believe it alerts game to your presence…with this new Covert Orange material on your torso you might just be running out of excuses for why you didn’t bag the big buck.

© 2006 Jim Braaten.  All Rights Reserved.   No Reproduction without Prior Permission.