By Kurt Von Besser

Deer Have Different Visual Make Up And Therefore See Their World Differently Than humans Do.

Picture courtesy of Jay Neitz, Ph.D. – Vision Scientist Medical College of Wisconsin

These two graphs illustrate the difference between the Daylight (color) vision of the Human and the Whitetail deer. Each trace reveals the profile of sensitivity of a single class of receptor. Notice that the deer has only blue peaking and green peaking receptors while the human has a third receptor that is normally referred to as “red” because it gives us the ability to see red light.

This third cone makes us far more sensitive to the longer wavelengths (such as blaze orange at 605 nanometers). Notice also that the sensitivities of our blue receptor and the short side of our green receptor are less than that of the deer.

This is the result of our Ultraviolet (UV) Filter that is absent in the deer. It makes us unable to see UV and far less sensitive to all wavelengths below 500 nanometers. The color bars illustrate the full range of color and brightness that each would see if deer and human both observed the spectrum in equal brightness.

Scotopic or rod vision is the black/white/gray capability in low light conditions at the peak hunting hours when these animals are most active. While deer are clearly superior in low light at all wavelengths, the advantage is greatest at wavelengths where the deer’s sensitivity continues after human vision has ceased (Blocked by the UV Filter).

This graph illustrates the extended capability of game animals and birds to see beyond our visible range. Note that at 400 nanometers (where human vision is fully blocked by our UV filter) the game animals have greater sensitivity than humans have for Blaze Orange. For ease of illustration, a logarithmic scale is used to compress the huge advantage in rod sensitivity of the deer.

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