No doubt that blaze orange saves lives

No person in their right mind can dispute the fact that the “blaze orange” hunting regulation has dramatically reduced the number of hunting shooting accidents during the deer firearms season.

When I was a teenager and learning how to hunt, the buck gun season (then only one week or six days) was considered to be the most dangerous hunting season for the entire year.

This year, there have only been four fatalities involving sport hunting, as of Nov. 30. Two of them have been heart attacks. On the opening day of the buck-gun season, there was a fatal hunting accident in Wetzel County involving a 20-year-old hunter. The details of the hunting accident have not been fully released. In Pendleton County, a 54-year-old man was fatally injured when his all-terrain vehicle (ATV) rolled over near his home at Franklin.

Today, there are still many hunters who say that the blaze orange apparel hunting regulation has often given them away to the sharp eyes of the deer. Here is where I have to disagree with these hunters and agree with most, if not all, of the wild game biologists nationwide when they say the animals are nearly colorblind.

Normal human vision is capable of perceiving the long-wavelengths of red and blaze orange. At the same time, the deer shift their heads to gain a three-dimensional perspective of an object by looking at it from several angles. This could possibly be the leading reason why they are constantly bobbing their heads when they sense or smell potential danger.

Deer and most wild animals have less binocular overlap because their eyes are on the sides of their heads. Without moving their heads, deer can see nearly 300 degrees of their surroundings.

Fine detail, however, is not a deer sight strength, but they are good at detecting outlines and movement within their surroundings.

When outdoors, the colors of light are at their most abundance when the sun is below the horizon at dawn and at dusk. During this short period of daylight, the deer could have some advantage.

Now, the answer to the question about the deer being able to distinguish blaze orange is an emphatic no. The deer cannot see the blaze orange the same way humans see it.

To be a successful deer hunter, the individual needs to keep his movement to a minimum. A deer’s eyes are well-adapted to detecting movement.

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Last week, I reported about a hunting incident where a hunter was injured when his bow accidentally discharged. This happened in Kanawha County in the Campbell’s Creek area. A man was hunting with a crossbow when he observed a group of deer in the distance, officials said. When he started moving toward the deer in an effort to get in range for a shot, he turned off the safety on his crossbow. While moving toward the deer, a branch hit the trigger on the crossbow, firing the bolt or arrow toward the ground and striking the hunter’s foot in the process. The hunter was taken to a Charleston Hospital and treated for his injuries.

In Braxton County, a 12-year-old was treated for a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his toes. The youth was reportedly riding in an ATV holding his brother’s rifle. Stories like this point to the need for youngsters to take the state hunter education safety course.

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