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?
I’ve never had a problem with turkeys spooking from Blaze Orange. I’ve had a lot of birds walk past close to me during gun season. Granted it is a bright color, but it hasn’t spooked them. The problem with it is, is that it broad casts movement so much better than camo does. I hunt a lot of public land and I like to gobble quite a bit, I’ll hang a blaze orange hat on a tree limb above me for a safety protection and birds come in like always.
I think you may be onto something with the pink? Be interesting to see what happens if you try it.
Vic and I have had many turkeys spook at the sight of blaze orange. It prevents us from getting in close to the flock for a proper scatter. Interestingly, I quit wearing blaze while grouse and pheasant hunting when hunting solo. I’ve had much better success, especially during the late season, due to the birds delaying their flush until I’m in range.
I can relay to what you’re saying Charlie, whereas you’re moving it would spook them, because of it being such a loud color. For grouse and pheasant I’ve switched to the safety yellow hat and hoodie with my old duck kaki colored vest over it. The birds don’t spook as bad with that safety yellow as much as they do with a blaze orange, I’m guessing it may look like more of a sky color to them? That’s why I’m thinking that the bright pink may work a lot better for you, and it’s legal during the deer seasons.
Interesting regarding the yellow. Many birds have yellowish colors and hues to their feathers, for that reason, perhaps it’s not as alarming to them. Blaze reflects so much light I’m quite sure it’s like a beacon which is a bigger problem in small open woodlots as a hunter tries to move in; all the game that sees it likely leaves out the other side before the hunter even knows it’s there.
WRC is right on the money with movement. It’s movement that spooks game!
Bright colors do nothing for safety. It’s one of those things were law makers do something just to say they did it. A silly notion. It does make sense that brighter colors broadcast movement. Especially blue (at least for ungulates, Deer in particular). I feel very fortunate to live in a jurisdiction that does not mandate attire choices to hunters.
As per the pink? That’s what you wear when handgun hunting (unfortunately not happening legally where I live) with a Bren Ten! Takes a real man to pull off pink, no?
This is, of course, one mans opinion. Best to all for the fall!
I STRONGLY disagree that bright colors do nothing for safety. I would never even consider being in the woods during our shotgun deer seasons without wearing blaze orange. It does make a huge difference in visibility to other people. I don’t even want to think about how many hunting accidents there would be if blaze orange weren’t required, given how many careless idiots there are roaming our woods in those seasons.
busy hunter says
Perhaps in your area. But hunters behave differently in different locales, in my hunting areas I trust my fellow hunters to be responsible and refuse to hunt in fear of others. Blaze colors may have made hunting more dangerous because too many now have the attitude – “if there is no bright color the shot must be safe. ” This puts non hunters who are unaware of seasons and laws at grave risk.
naked turkey says
I met you yesterday charlie, that was a very tender looking turkey you and your dog got.
LOL, it was a good day’s hunt especially meeting you wearing only a loin cloth and headgear.
Well did you try the Pink Camo for the youth deer hunting weekend Charlie?
No, my grandson and I went pheasant hunting while wearing some blaze. Man o’ Man early season pheasant hunting is tough in WI when you’re chasing wild ones.
Yep, without any snow on the ground you’ll do a lot of walking and hopefully you’ll find one to flush. Years ago when WI. had a good pheasant population, you could find a few birds on almost any farm around, but since the population of wild birds have shrunk to next to nothing, you’ll hunt all day and maybe get a bird to flush.
Not sure if pink would be any better than blaze orange. Just glad I don’t have to wear either one here!
Funny, for some reason your comment caused me to remember you hunt turkeys in a kilt. And if that kilt was pink, it could pass as a Poodle Skirt. LOL
I had no idea what a Poodle Skirt was, so I had to Google it. You’re dating yourself, charlie! ;-D I don’t know anything about them, but I bet they weren’t very popular for turkey hunting.
busy hunter says
My daughter wears a pinik camo hat during spring turkey season and she kills more gobblers than any of the guys in our turkey campl.
Interesting busy. Thanks for sharing. I hope your daughter continues her success!
Bryan Ash says
Well I’ll just tell you “to tough for pink” guys , across what’s left of our nation , that if pink como is more forgiving of detection by game, then I’m man enough to wear it. I’m quite secure in my manhood !!
Plus , come on guys,…, it symbolizes your support in the fight against breast cancer. I think the little girl is on to something !! Go girl, Go !!