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Senator Moulton Column: Deer hunting safety

I know many of you, like me, are passionate outdoorsmen and women who love to hunt. Deer hunting is a popular pastime with more than 608,000 hunting licenses purchased last year. New female hunters outnumber new male hunters three to one. With this in mind, the Sportsman’s Caucus, a bipartisan group of legislators dedicated to Wisconsin’s outdoor heritage, has been interested in legalizing blaze pink hunting clothing along with blaze orange.

Because safety is the most important concern for hunting clothing, the Caucus decided to meet with a color scientist from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Human Ecology. Dr. Majid Sarmadi, one of the nation’s leading color experts, conducted a series of experiments to determine if blaze pink was as safe as blaze orange. Dr. Sarmadi spoke with the Sportsman’s Caucus about the biology of deer and human eyes and the science of color. Today, I would like to share this information with you.

Humans have three color cones in their eyes – red, green, and blue – that allow us to see the seven colors of the rainbow. While deer have excellent vision that is substantially better than human vision, deer have just two cones – green and blue – that make it difficult for them to see the “red colors” – orange, red, and pink. Each of these red colors appear to be different shades of gray to deer. Deer can see blue, green, yellow and UV colors. Orange, being a “red color,” is difficult for deer to see. However, pink is even more difficult for deer to see because it is further from yellow, a color that deer can see, on the color spectrum than orange. Because of this, Dr. Sarmadi’s research shows that blaze pink is actually more difficult for deer to see than blaze orange, making hunters more camouflaged in blaze pink.

Blaze orange is also worn to allow hunters to see each other, a safety measure used to prevent hunting accidents. Dr. Sarmadi completed an analysis of a variety of currently hunting products available in both blaze pink and blaze orange on the human eye and determined that commercially available blaze pink clothing is equally or more visible than blaze orange products. Additionally, because orange is a color found in nature and pink is not, Dr. Sarmadi concluded that blaze pink is actually more visible for hunters.

The next step would be to introduce a bill legalizing the sale of blaze pink hunting gear along with blaze orange. Safety is a crucial factor in this decision, but it appears that blaze pink is more effective than blaze orange against deer and more visible for hunters. If this idea has enough support, you may be seeing blaze pink on hunters in a woods near year.

If you have questions or comments about any state-related issues, you can contact me at Sen.Moulton@legis.wisconsin.gov or (888) 437-9436.