Why Do Hunters Wear Orange?

Camouflage is the most common thing one may consider wearing while going hunting. It hides you from your prey, and even wild predators have developed camo patterns to be more efficient.

To non-hunters, it doesn’t make sense to wear blaze orange on top of the camo clothing. However, there is a reason why hunters wear this highly visible color while hunting out in the woods.

Why Do Hunters Wear Orange?

The blaze orange, or hunter’s orange, is one of the most visible colors to the human eye. Unless you are color-blind, you would certainly notice it in the forest all year round.

First and foremost, the blaze orange is necessary for the hunter’s safety. As bright orange is not a color seen in nature, other hunters would easily see it in the foliage, and after hearing a rustle in the bushes, they can recognize another hunter passing by. Wearing blaze orange reduced the risk of being mistaken for a game animal and shot during the hunt.

By wearing orange garments during hunting, hunters are seven times less likely to get shot. Even when the law doesn’t specify if orange clothing is necessary or not, one should always have some orange garment at hand when passing through to or from their hunting destination.

Do Hunters Have to Wear Orange?

In most states of the U.S., blaze orange is a requirement. However, depending on the state, there are some exceptions, i.e., a mountain lion and mountain goat, waterfowl, and upland hunting. Each state has its own rules, and it is wise to get to know them before heading out for a hunt.

Apart from requiring a blaze orange color, each of those states also has regulations pertaining to the size and placement of the color. 

Alaska, Arizona, California, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Vermont do not require any blaze orange garments during hunting seasons, but they strongly encourage hunters to wear them for their own safety.

Idaho and New Mexico also don’t require hunters to wear blaze orange, with a few exceptions. In Idaho, only sponsored hunts and pheasant hunts with Upland Game Bird Permit require orange. In New Mexico, orange is only required during hunts on military properties and in the Valles Caldera National Preserve.

What Kind of Orange Do Hunters Wear?

The orange color for hunters’ clothing is blaze orange, sometimes called simply hunter’s orange. It is a bright, sometimes also called a fluorescent shade of orange, easily visible from a distance. 

In hunting regulations, there is only mention of blaze orange, but if anyone has a problem identifying which shade of orange it is, there are some pointers in American National Standard for High-Visibility 

Safety Apparel (ANSI ISEA 107). It gives some indication about safety fluorescent orange parameters.

However, the easiest way to get an idea of the blaze orange color one should wear when hunting is to visit a hunting store and find blaze orange apparel. Hunting clothes manufacturers have done all the homework for us and have all the appropriate shades of orange ready.

Do Bow Hunters Need To Wear Orange?

Why Do Hunters Wear Orange

During bow season, bowhunters are not required to wear blaze orange clothing. However, sometimes, archery season overlaps with firearm season, and regulations change. 

In some states, wearing blaze orange is required by law during rifle hunting seasons, including bowhunters, even if they don’t have firearms with them. 

It is also safe for bowhunters to wear an orange hat or vest while traveling to and from hunting spots during hunting season, especially on public and private land shared with other hunters. 

It is also wise to display some orange by a bowhunter while carrying the game out while in the hunting area.

Can Animals See Hunters Wearing Orange?

As previously stated, people unfamiliar with hunting would scratch their heads seeing hunters wearing camo clothes and covering them with an orange vest. They may assume the orange-colored clothing is likely to be seen by animals and render the hunt unsuccessful. 

However, there is a method to this madness. Orange color is not always as visible to animals as it is to us. Some species are color blind, and therefore wearing an orange hat or vest doesn’t necessarily mean an unsuccessful hunt.

Deer, elk, and moose can’t recognize orange colors. They are what we can call color-blind. Scientists discovered that ungulates have dichromatic vision. It means that they can only recognize a certain amount of colors, and orange isn’t one of them. Bears have a very similar vision to ungulates. They can discern a difference between green and blue, but orange and red are not so visible. The same is true for wild pigs. 

However, all animals mentioned so far can notice any object contrasting sharply with the environment. Unfortunately, blaze orange looks like a brightly colored spot with no saturation in their eyes. It means that there is a big chance of being noticed wearing a blaze orange vest while surrounded by dark drees.

On the other hand, ducks and turkeys can see orange just fine, and in fact, they flee when they notice anything slightly out of the ordinary. That includes a bright orange color in the forest or marsh. 

Final Thoughts

Wearing blaze orange during hunting is necessary because of the hunter’s safety during the hunting season. By wearing orange clothing on top of the camo, one becomes more visible to another hunter. It prevents accidental shooting. In many states hunting regulations dictate that an orange vest or a hat are a legal requirement during rifle hunting season.

Although there are exemptions to wearing orange garments in some instances, i.e., stand, bow, or waterfowl hunting, one should always have orange clothing handy for traveling to and from their hunting destinations.

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