New for the 2016 Wisconsin fall turkey season: A whole lot of gun deer hunting is going to be going on. In my area, a month of the fall turkey season will feature a concurrent gun deer hunting season. Wisconsin game regulations require all hunters and trappers to wear blaze orange or pink while afield during any open gun deer season. Turkeys can easily see blaze orange and are spooked by this color, a serious problem for the state’s avid turkey hunters. But what about them seeing pink?
The eyesight of a turkey is nothing short of amazing. Not only can turkeys see in detail that is equivalent to humans with eight-power binoculars their color vision is outstanding and includes the ability to see UVA light.
Turkey retinas have seven different types of photoreceptors.
- One rod
- Six different types of cones
- Two of which are actually ‘double cones.’
- One of the turkey’s single cone photoreceptors has a spectral sensitivity to wavelengths near 400nm which is in the UVA light range.
- Seeing withUVA light helps when they are detecting prey, selecting a mate and foraging for food.
Human retinas have only four different types of photoreceptors, 1 rod, and three single cones.
There is one well-known chink in the armor of a turkey’s eyesight, and that is it’s only two-dimensional sight, not the three-dimensional view humans have. Turkeys compensate for this by consistently juking their heads to focus on objects at differing distances. An example of a hunter exploiting this vulnerability, if you can call it that, occurs while setup calling from brushy fallen treetop. The turkeys approach expecting to see movement, and a well-camouflaged human is only allowing a small portion of their figure to move tricking the turkeys into thinking there are more of them feeding in that hide away.
Back to; Can turkeys see fluorescent pink? On the UVA spectrum, definitely. Considering turkeys have six types of cones they can probably see pink. However, pink is sort of present on their heads depending on a particular bird’s mood. So if a turkey hunter is on a setup while wearing a pink camo vest only bits and pieces of pink are going to be seen by incoming turkeys who are expecting to see other turkeys. Might just work out better to wear pink versus the orange.
I know, I know, we all laughed when Wisconsin became the first state to legalize the wearing of fluorescent pink. As a matter of fact Wisconsin became and may still be the but of jokes in the national hunting community, and here I am thinking about this as a solution to replace wearing the ugly hunt messing up orange. Is pink ugly? Not on ladies but… Personally, I have lived with a pink allergy all my life mostly because I think of it as a girly color. During the pink legalizing debate, the whole purpose was to make ladies more comfortable hunting by allowing them to wear pink; there was no talk of real men wearing these girly outfits. Women felt this law was condescending, and men, for the most part, made jokes. Now in all seriousness, I am wondering if this is a viable solution for turkey hunting, where can a fluorescent pink camo vest be purchased and can I work past my pink phobia to become comfortable wearing one?