Chapter Four

Chapter Four

Concealment From Deer’s Eyes

I sat perfectly motionless, enjoying watching a doe as she ate apples ten yards from me. She had just picked up her third or fourth fruit, and was working on breaking it up in her mouth, when she drowsily gazed in my direction. All of a sudden her eyes widened, the apple was ejected, and she bounded two or three times toward thick cover. She then spent the better part of an hour sneaking about and studying me, stomping her foot with a decidedly indignant air. Even though I was wearing full camouflage, on a stand that was placed up a double-trunked pine which offered good concealment, and even though I hadn’t moved a muscle, she had nevertheless seen me.

One big mistake that inexperienced hunters often make is their thinking that deer cannot see well. It is understandable that they might believe so, since the myth is so frequently perpetuated. I hear it all the time. However, anyone who has had regular close encounters with deer knows better. They can see very well, in some ways better than we can (night and peripheral vision).

It is often suggested that, although deer readily take notice of the slightest movement, they will not see a hunter so long as he sits perfectly still. The former is certainly true; the latter, not necessarily. More than once deer have picked me out of a well-concealed and elevated hiding place, without my moving a muscle. In fact, deer have proven to be more adept at doing so than are the hunters who sometimes wander under my stands, oblivious to my presence, even when I do move. Could it be that deer actually see better than we do? At the very least, they seem to be much more observant than we are. Of course, it would stand to reason that they would be; what to us is recreation, to them is a matter of life or death.

Another common assumption that may as well be addressed is the supposition that deer are color blind. There are two basic kinds of photoreceptors in the eye - rod cells and cone cells. Rods are responsible for night vision, and cones for color vision. Whitetail deer have both, although they have more of the former than the latter - hence their extraordinary ability to see in the dark. Nevertheless, the presence of cones suggests at least a limited ability to perceive color.

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