Those Blue Eyes
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Last Updated: Aug 6, 2010 – 1:11:39 PM
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Those Blue Eyes

By Wade Nolan – Bowhunting Biologist

Apr 13, 2008 – 12:02:18 AM

Understanding that turkeys have full spectrum vision plus UV vision can help you score. Kevin Smith dusted this bird partly because he understands the “Blue Eye” principal.

There are two kinds of science, real science and junk science. You have probably seen both. In that my background is in biology I’m partial toward real science. I rely on solid wildlife research and it helps me be more effective as a hunter. There is one area of solid research that should interest you if you are a turkey hunter and it concerns their eyes and yours.

Turkeys have incredible vision and we know quite a lot about it. First their acuity is excellent. That’s their ability to see fine detail. The next time you are sitting at the base of a tree and a gobbler approaches just wiggle your finger a little and watch the “putting” begin. Turkeys can see detail and they see it at a distance.

Turkeys can also pick up movement easily. The eyes are placed on the side of their head and this gives them 270-degree vision. Their stereoscopic vision is limited but they solve this issue of depth perception by moving their heads constantly and getting two angles on things they look at.

 If you have ever been in a treestand when wild turkeys were walking by you know that they are constantly looking for predators in trees. Great Horned Owls enjoy eating turkey and this may have contributed to their habit of looking up. It’s a challenge to have a flock of turkeys walk by and not get busted. Only one time have I successfully drew my bow on a fall tom and then pinned him to the ground. I usually get caught moving.

These birds are preyed upon by a host of animals including man and they have a poorly developed sense of curiosity. If something looks out of place?they boogie.

This hunter is set up like many turkey hunters…sitting at the base of a tree waiting for a red head to show up. The problem is that turkeys can see UV and being blue can wreck your chances at a big tom.

The other thing that turkeys have is full spectrum color vision. Unlike deer that see only two colors, yellow and blue, a turkey sees the same colors that you see. Their world is colorful and even better?they see Ultra-Violet. We can’t see UV because of a filter in our eyes but turkeys have no UV filter. This means that they see the UV brighteners that are so common in camo manufactured in China. Or if you wash your camo just one time in a detergent that has UV brighteners in it your camo is dyed with UV forever.

 We know that these UV-brighteners re-radiate light at around 440 nanometers and that color is “glowing blue”. You don’t want to be looking like a blue blob in the turkey woods. To turkeys and to deer, blue is the color of a predator. So let’s connect the dots.

The big fix that kills the blue so you can kill the birds is at

Here is what we know. You need camo to be an effective turkey hunter. It should look like the surroundings and color matters. You can’t be moving when they are in sight and you can’t have UV-brighteners in your clothes. How can you check your camo for UV? You can order a UV-detection kit from . They also sell U-V-Killer, a product that permanently destroys UV in your camo. One treatment lasts a lifetime. Now “Don’t get caught moving and aim at the base of the neck.”

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