Why do hunters wear orange…and not yellow or hot pink? Is there a scientific reason behind it, or is it just some outdated practice adopted centuries ago that stuck? And why do hunters wear camouflage: doesn’t that directly contradict wearing orange?!
So, why do hunters wear orange (and camo)? Hunters wear blaze orange for safety reasons, so they can be seen by other hunters and not mistaken for the wildlife being hunted. Hunters wear camouflage to blend in with their surroundings to keep wildlife from seeing them. It may seem counterintuitive, but deer and other wildlife don’t see colors as humans do. Instead, they see orange as shades of green. They will, however, see a hunter’s silhouette if not broken up by a camo pattern. Camouflage patterned orange serves both purposes. It allows the hunter to be seen by other people and blends into the terrain to avoid being spotted by animals.
Due to the safety aspect of wearing blaze orange, many states have laws that require hunters to wear it during certain seasons or types of hunting. Camo is not a requirement but may give the hunter some additional advantage. There are many camo patterns available and what works best is up for debate.
However, where you are hunting and the type of terrain you’re in may affect what you choose to wear. But remember, years ago, there wasn’t all the fancy camo there is now. You’ll see old photos of hunters wearing blue jeans and red wool hats posing in front of their game. So, hunter’s orange is essential for safety, camouflage is not necessary. However, it just might improve your odds, assuming you’re doing everything else correctly.
Why do Hunters Wear Orange? For Safety?
Many states require hunters to wear blaze orange, also called “hunters orange,” for safety. It is essential to check the regulations where you are hunting because the rules can differ from state to state, depending on the type of game being hunted and the season you are hunting in. For example, blaze orange may be required during rifle hunting season but not during bow season.
There will also be specifics as to how many square inches of orange are required. The most common hunting apparel made with blaze orange includes hats, vests, shirts, and jackets. Most hunters will wear a combination of these.
Also, remember if you shed layers, you need to make sure your orange is still visible. For example, if you are wearing a blaze orange jacket but need to take it off, it’s a good idea to have backup orange. Some hunters will use an orange cover on their backpack, and it’s usually a safe bet a hunter will keep their hat on.
In recent years, several states have also passed laws allowing for blaze pink to be worn in the field. While there is much debate and even controversy surrounding these laws, studies have shown it to be as, if not more, visible than blaze orange.
Why do Hunters Wear Camouflage?
While hunting success depends on many factors, wearing camouflage does not guarantee a successful hunt. Instead, it is one tool in the hunter’s toolbox for increasing the odds of taking an animal.
Wildlife can see large blocks of solid color, even if they can’t see the color itself. Camouflage is designed to break this block up, so you blend into your surroundings.
If we removed all color and the world was black, white, and grey, the best camo would leave you unrecognizable. However, this only applies to the vegetation and terrain around you. If you stand up on top of a ridge in the open, to wildlife, you’ll look just like the predator you are!
You’ve likely noticed many camo patterns on the market. This is because companies are always trying to develop the latest technology and camo patterns to help hunters blend in with their surroundings.
For example, if you’re hunting Dall sheep in the Alaskan tundra, the camo pattern you’ll need will be much different than hunting mule deer in the New Mexico desert.
Many of the top hunting apparel companies have different patterns made for the terrain you’re hunting. Some even claim their patterns are one-size-fits-all. One thing is sure: the merits of camo and different patterns will always spark debates!
Best Fabrics for Hunting
Another thing people don’t think about is the type of fabric their orange or camo is made of. First, it is important to avoid cotton while recreating in the woods, especially if you’ll break a sweat. If you’re doing any spot and stalk hunting, this will likely be the case.
Cotton soaks up moisture and holds it next to your skin rather than evaporating it away. If you are hunting in cold conditions, this can quickly result in hypothermia. If you’re hunting in tree stands during cold weather, you’ll want much warmer clothing.
Regardless of the temperature, you’ll want soft, moisture-wicking fabric. Many companies are making technical fabrics designed to do just this. If you want high-tech camo, several hunting apparel companies make great camo patterns and use the latest innovations in textiles. However, if you’re not convinced camo is a must, there are many great outdoor brands whose clothing will also work just fine.
The bottom line is to make sure your clothing does not create additional noise and will keep you appropriately warm or cool.