Humans are keenly aware of their own abilities. We believe we are masters of the universe. Even when acutely aware of another species superiority, we continue to behave as if we are superior. A very common example of this is the use of scented products to fool the nose of a deer. We have no way of knowing what a deer is smelling and how he interprets the odors we introduce, but if we see an anticipated behavior, we are certain it’s “working”. Our egos run wild with how we think we are manipulating this deer with scent. We think we have outsmarted his nose. The truth is, he is at least 1000x as sensitive. He can recognize at least 6 odors at the same time and he has a progressive record of how each odor in his environment has been changing from day to day. Food that wasn’t ripe yesterday may be harvested today and the scent of that noisy hunter that tried to cover signature with “Tinks 69” is still lingering 3 days later.
If our egos run wild about scent where we clearly have no chance of superiority, how much worse is our under appreciation of deer vision? We have read that he has only 20:200 vision. This suggests that he can see at 20 feet what we can see at 200 feet. We are told that deer see only blue and yellow while we see the “entire” rainbow of colors. We will give him credit for superiority in the dark because their eyes shine and we don’t find them dead in the morning from having crashed into a tree they could not see. But what can they really see that we don’t see better?
Well for starters, that 20:200 is measured in the light we all see by, full daylight, rich in long wavelengths. It happens that deer have very few receptors for full daylight and even fewer for long wavelengths. 90% of our receptors are for bright light, but 90% of the deer’s receptors are for low light. If we did the test in low light the deer would do 10x better and we would do 10x worse. This totally reverses the outcome of the test. And you won’t find this published anywhere because our egos are so in control that we are only interested in how well they see what we see. It never occurs to us to ask how well we see what they see. This is like taking a piece of camo out to the field in bright light and making judgments about how well you can see it. What difference would it make, unless you are going to wear it for paintball?
Deer avoid activity in bright light when they are at a disadvantage. They prefer to be active in reduced light where they have a huge advantage. And when we think it is dark, there is plenty of short blue and UV light available for the deer. He can run at full speed through the woods without hitting a fence or a tree. We would be challenged to do this equipped with thousands of dollars of the latest night vision equipment.
This ability to see in short wavelength light gives him a special advantage whenever optical brighteners or UV reflecting material is present. Some plants and the urine of most warm blooded animals are visible to deer. More importantly, humans can easily be seen by the optical brighteners in their clothing.
To ignore this fantastic ability just because we don’t have it, is just another trick of our gigantic ego.
Here is how this ego trip will typically play out. You spend plenty of money for camo with great reviews written by other humans, all handicapped by their inability to see short wavelengths in low light. You carefully verify that it is nearly invisible to you and your buddies.
Now you’re in your favorite stand when the buck of a lifetime emerges. (I’ll skip the painful details about size and rack and neck because you’re not going to get him anyway) He is dead up wind so all you have to do is freeze till he turns away. But he swings his head just one time and it comes to a stop staring right at you. He is now waiting for you to make the SLIGHTEST movement to confirm that the bright blue glow means it is time to go.
Your ego has you dead certain that he can’t see you. You “know” that if you were in his position you could not possibly see yourself in this stand. Your ego says this upwind deer must be staring at you because of your scent trail? Before you finish that thought he stops staring and disappears.
It’s time to check your ego and get a UV light so you can check your camo too. Deer can easily see short wavelengths of light and you can’t. Get over it. Buy a UV light. It cost about as much as an arrow and will probably last a lifetime.
Visit atsko.com or just google “check camo and orange” for complete information on what kind of light to buy and how to use it correctly. Then, check everything you wear or carry with you. Any item that glows must be washed with Sport-Wash and then treated with U-V-Killer. One permanent treatment will stop the glow. Learn how in “Application Tips for U-V-Killer” While you are there be sure to read our online book “How Game Animals See and Smell”.
You will see so many more animals you will be master of your universe.