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Can Deer See Green Light? Deer Vision Research!

Hunting at night usually requires the hunter to use a specific type of lighting to see not only where they are, but also to spot the game that they are after.

The obvious choice would be white light since it complements our night vision immensely. However, hunters never use white light since its bright nature can easily spook dear or any other game that they are pursuing.

Can Deer See Green Light? Quick Answer: The most recent research shows that deer can see the green light but they can not distinguish it from many other colors of light. Basically they are color blind to the light so it looks grey to them.

What about red light can they see it? Check out our article Can Deer See Red Light?

Check out our top hunting light choices for great light options, most of them are RGB (red-green-blue) so you can use them for lots of different things. Check this one you specifically want a headlamp for hunting.

This is why hunters typically use colored lights, as they are not as harsh as white light. Using colored lights dramatically reduces the chances of scaring away the animals.

Nonetheless, hunters have noticed that different kinds of colors tend to elicit mixed reactions in various types of animals. But in general this does hold for most deer types like whitetail deer, blacktail deer, mule deer, elk, reindeer, etc.

Before you go nighttime hunting, it is necessary to understand how the game you are after reacts to different kinds of lighting. Understanding this allows you to choose a light color that will give you the highest chances of success.

Each animal is different we will also cover others including predators, hogs, and anything else you might be hunting.

In hunting circles, there is a never-ending debate on the best color of light to use when hunting deer. Green is one of the most discussed colors in this debate. So, is green light good for hunting? Does green light scare deer?

This article will explore available scientific research on this topic to answer that question.

What is Vision?

Before finding out what studies are saying about deer’s sense of sight and perception of green light, it is essential to understand how vision works first.

Vision is the phenomenon that occurs when light enters the eye and into specialized cells as the back of the eye. After absorbing light, those cells transmit a signal to the brain, which translates as sight. The wavelength of the reflected light is what determines the color that the brain perceives or makes out. 

This means that objects do not have any color. They simply reflect the light of a specific wavelength, which is what the brain perceives as color. Because of this white light can be seen by most everything since white light contains all of the different colors of light in it. So the last thing you would want to use if you were trying to be stealth would be one of these super bright lights on our highest lumen list.

Color, therefore, consists of light reflecting along a spectrum ranging from ultraviolet on the short end to infrared on the long end of the spectrum. Humans are only capable of seeing some colors within this spectrum. For example, we cannot see any color from either end of the spectrum.

Next, let us try to understand the general makeup of the eye. In mammals, the primary structures responsible for absorbing light into the eye are rods and cones, which are light-sensitive cells. They located in the retina, at the back of the eye. Rods work in the near absence or total absence of light. They only allow for black and white vision. 

Cones, on the other hand, function in full light conditions, which is why we use them for daytime and color vision. The reason humans can see a wide variety of colors is due to the three types of specialized photoreceptor cells (cone photopigments) in our eyes.

One photopigment is receptive to short wavelengths of light (blue range), another is receptive to middle wavelength light (green range), while the other is receptive long wavelengths of light (red range). This trichromatic or three-color vision is the most advanced type of color vision among mammals.

The Differences between a Human’s Eye and a Deer’s Eye

Studies done on deer eye show that they have a higher concentration of rods than humans do, but a lower concentration of cones. As mentioned, rods facilitate night vision while cones facilitate daytime vision.

This means that deer have a superior nighttime vision to us but cannot see as well as we do during the day. Additionally, deer’s pupils can open up to three times as wide as ours can. This feature allows them to gather much more light into their retina during low light conditions, which further enhances their nighttime vision.

Deer also have a reflective layer at the back of their eye known as a tapetum, which causes their eyes to ‘shine’ at night. This reflective layer acts as a mirror, reflecting any light that has not been absorbed by receptor cells so that it has a second chance of getting absorbed. Deer can use the same light twice while we only get to use it once.

What Science Says about Deer and Green Light

In August 1992, the University of Georgia assembled a group of vision scientists and leading deer researchers to determine what colors deer can see. The study made use of a highly sophisticated computer system that could interpret the electrical responses made by the eye and translate them into a ‘scientific guess’ of what deer are capable of seeing.

Findings from the study revealed that deer only have two types of cone photopigments, as opposed to the three in humans. As a result, their color vision is not as good as that of humans. The cone photopigment that they lack is the one that is receptive to long wavelength colors (the red zone). Nonetheless, this does not mean that colors such are red, and orange are invisible to deer vision; instead, they perceive them differently. Maybe why blaze orange is so popular.

Just like some humans, are red green colorblind. They see green or red as a shade of grey. However, deer can perceive blue light. As a result, they can distinguish blue from red light, but not red and green.

Should You Use Green Light When Hunting Deer?

If the findings from this study are anything to go by, then it would appear as though green light is your best choice when hunting. This is because deer are practically color blind to green.

However, this does not mean flashing your green light at them suddenly, because intensity also matters. Spot the deer, and then increase the power of your green light gradually.

You could also use red light since deer see red and green as almost the same. The benefit of green light is that to the human eye green stands out way more than red with the same intensity. Check out our article on hunting with red light.

However, the biggest challenge to deer hunting is not the color of your hunting lights; instead, it is movement. Deer can detect the slightest of movements in their vicinity, thanks to having eyes at the side of their heads, which allows them a wide field of view. This will also move onto camo patterns since as we said before vision is just light reflecting off of a surface.

Final Statement

Can deer see green light? Yes, they can sense there is an intensity of light but they can not tell the difference between other colors.

Therefore, consider using it the next time you go deer hunting at night. More importantly, be slow and deliberate in your movements so as not to spook your prey. Good luck on your hunt and enjoy the outdoors this season whether you are doing archery or using a gun.

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