Science of Deer Vision
By: Trey Reid
Research studies reveal visual perceptions of white-tailed deer, what they can see, their strengths and weaknesses
It’s a perfectly crisp and clear autumn morning when a white-tailed doe wanders into view beneath your deer stand. Despite a favorable wind, the doe stops dead in her tracks, staring cautiously in your direction, twitching an ear and flaring a nostril.
You’re perfectly motionless. The deer stretches her neck and twists her head from side to side. After what seems like an eternity, she eventually turns her attention to the acorns scattered on the forest floor.
Why didn’t she run away? Her scrutiny supports the idea that she saw you, but instead of running for safety, she finally relaxed and started feeding.
It could’ve turned out another way, with some visual cue triggering a flight response and the deer high-tailing it in the opposite direction. With either outcome, the result may be attributed to processes of whitetail vision.
What exactly do deer see? What colors can deer see? Can deer see blaze orange? Since the deer can’t tell us, we turn to science for answers about what deer can see and how they see it.
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