What to Wear for Deer Hunting? Choosing your deer hunting outfit has everything to do with protection from the elements (keeping warm), color for blending in with your environment (camouflage), safety and comfort.
It is therefore important to ensure your clothing includes all the necessary items. The success of your hunt may be affected if your clothing checklist is not complete.
When looking back at the clothing trends for deer hunting over the past few decades, and more specifically the colors thereof, we see enormous changes that took place. Research has led to a new understanding of what and how deer actually do and don’t see. It turns out they do not see in black and white only as was believed for many years.
As we all know, it has to do with their eyesight and the most valuable research in this regard indicates the difference between deer vision and human vision:
Cones and Rods – The human eye consists of more cones and can, therefore, distinguish between more colors. On the other hand, we have fewer rods, which inevitably cause us to have limited night vision. Deer eyes have more rods but fewer cones, so they can see better in the dark and can see some colors more vivid than us.
Shape of the pupil – the shape of a deer’s eyes and more specifically the pupil, has a horizontal oval shape in contrast to a human’s pupil which is round. This enables them to have a larger scope of vision from left to right than observing what is above or below.
Position of the eyes – deer’s eyes are situated on the sides of their heads giving them the advantage of a 310-degree scope as opposed to a human’s 140 degrees.
UV light – Deer are able to see UV light in low light and for this reason, they will detect hunters wearing clothes that were washed with detergents containing UV brighteners.
Red-green Color blind – Deer are red-green color blind and can therefore not distinguish between green and red or orange and red. So, in effect, hunters can wear green, red and orange but should avoid blue. On the other hand, deer can distinguish brilliantly between blue and red.
Quick Tips on choosing your hunting clothes
When shopping for hunting gear; keep in mind the reasons why you would prefer some items to others:
1.Clothes should protect you from the elements; therefore consider the weather and climate that you will be hunting in.
2. Comfortable – There is nothing like uncomfortable clothes to distract you from focusing on the hunt itself. A good option is clothes made of stretchable polyester.
3. Always make sure your clothes are waterproof.
4. Avoid items that make too much noise because that will instantly give your presence away.
5. Additionally, avoid wearing cotton shirts since they may take forever to dry and are also heavier than traditional outdoor clothing.
6. Do not wear jeans since deer are extremely perceptive to the color blue.
7. Layer your clothes.
8. Always include blaze orange items. This is a safety measure and what makes it ideal is that deer cannot see the color orange.
9. You do not have to go for the most pricy items on the shelf as that is not a guarantee for a successful hunt. As long as you keep all of the above in consideration, you will be good to go at any price.
Deer Hunting Clothes Checklist
Hunting Jackets – The right jacket will keep you warm and dry and will protect your arms from being scratched by branches. Hunting jackets are available in bright orange which will keep you safe. The different States have different specifications regarding the amount of orange to be worn, so please check our section on “Hunter’s Orange” below.
Pants – Long pants are ideal since it will prevent injuries to your legs and keep them warm too. Now, there’s nothing wrong with choosing fashionable pants, as long as you make sure they are comfortable and functional too. You might even try wearing a larger size for extra comfort.
Boots – for hunting in cold weather you have to look for comfortable, insulated boots which also includes waterproofing. If possible, opt for boots with thick rubber soles too. In contrast to this, when hunting in warmer conditions your boots should allow cool air through allowing your feet to “breathe.”
Boot laces – be careful of laces that are too long since they can cause injury.
Socks – the importance of hunting socks is easily underestimated when in fact, they play a significant role. Socks prevent uncomfortable and painful blisters which will bring your hunting trip to an abrupt end. They also play an important role in insulating your boots and keeping your feet odor free.
Gloves – hunting gloves is an essential item whether you are hunting in warm or cold weather and even more so when you are hunting with a bow. Depending on the weather and the specific needs you can choose between gloves that cover your entire hand or fingerless gloves.
Belts – This seemingly inferior piece of clothing might just be more important than expected. Since we suggested that you consider buying larger size pants, you will most certainly need a belt to keep it from falling down.
Suspenders – these are excellent substitutes for belts and are often more comfortable too.
Backpacks – a backpack is a backpack, right? As any hunter knows, no it isn’t. Your best option is to choose a backpack that is specifically designed for hunters. The main reason for a backpack is because you carry gear with you and the pockets in jackets and pants are seldom adequate.
Backpacks which are specifically designed for hunting is made to last, it is durable and hard-wearing.
The controversy whether to wear camouflage or not originates from the fact that deer will not spot you if you simply dress in muted colors and by wearing grays or browns. So why go to great lengths to obtain expensive camo clothing?
It is indeed true that unless you wear blue, deer might not easily spot you unless it picks up on your scent, your movement or your silhouette against a light background. A relevant example is skylining, where your body is silhouetted against the sky. In situations like that wearing, the most expensive camo will not save you. It does seem that scent is the biggest reason why a deer spots a hunter, followed by movement and then only camouflage.
However, camo clothing is still extremely important and relevant for the following reasons:
- It breaks up your silhouette against the environment;
- The camo patterns keep you hidden;
- It keeps you warm;
- Face masks and gloves are crucial to hide your moving hands and face.
One final tip to remember is not to wash your hunting clothes with detergents containing UV brighteners as this will cause it to glow blue to deer’s eyes.
Although we pay close attention to hunting clothes in this discussion, it is important to remember that your accessories are equally significant for the success of your hunt.
Accessories to include are trail cams, scent-reducing apparel, scent eliminators, deer calls, decoys, tree stands, tree stand safety devices, and blinds.
Keeping warm and dry are two of the biggest challenges when you are hunting out in the woods, but fortunately, there are a number of quick and easy ways to achieve this.
Dress warm – layer
If we can single out the two most important rules here, it will be to layer and to go thermal, so here are a few quick steps:
- The first step in layering is to invest in a good quality base layer, and if possible a one-piece thermal base layer which is light, comfortable, stretchy and keeps your body extremely warm. Heated vests are also an option if you want to go high-tech.
- Your next layer will be a long-sleeve shirt. Woolen ones are great but some of them might be itchy and uncomfortable. To avoid this you might want to opt for a warm sweatshirt or fleece.
- Wear lined or insulated pants and if you haven’t opted for a one-piece base layer, then simply wear thermal long johns underneath.
- The final layer is a good quality hunting jacket.
The golden key to staying dry when hunting is, of course, to avoid any type of moisture which is your biggest enemy when out in the cold. Make sure that your outer layer of clothing is waterproof and inner layers are fast-drying as sweat will dampen your clothes.
In addition, an extra pair of socks in your backpack will be a lifesaver when your feet are wet.
Keep your head, neck, hands, and feet warm
Body and back – in extreme weather conditions, nothing relaxes your body more than a heated back and body wrap, so make sure to include these in your checklist.
Head and neck – a facemask or even a beanie and/or a neck gaiter will go far to keep the worst cold out of your face and keep your head warm. Top this up by adding an insulated cap.
Hands – since gloves can sometimes be uncomfortable and difficult when shooting, most hunters prefer hand muffs as they offer a number of possibilities. For example, they can be clipped around your waist and in extremely cold weather, you may even put a few disposable hand warmers in it.
Feet – nothing can spoil the mood of a hunting trip more than cold and wet feet. So you want to make sure you have all the means in place to avoid this. First of all invest in insulated, waterproof boots.
The next step is to add quality, thermal socks. There are a vast number of different items available and in the end, it comes down to individual preferences, keeping you warm and dry and offering comfort.
Boot covers are your next stop. Wear this over your boots to keep the heat inside. And while you are at it, try adding a disposable toe pack or warmer inside each boot. They should always be fully warmed up before inserting them and should go between your socks and the liner of your boots.
Keeping warm while you are walking is easy. However, it is when you are in a stand or blind for several hours that you can quickly feel the effect of the cold. Although you cannot do extreme exercises here, you may still perform small stretches and movements to keep warm.
Keep in mind, however, that you do not want to scare deer away by making elaborate movements and you also do not want to exercise to the point of sweating since this will cause damp clothing and feeling colder.
Tree Stand Carpets
Although this has little to do with hunting clothes, it has everything to do with staying warm. A valuable tip from an experienced hunter is to add a piece of outdoor carpet to the bottom of your tree stand. This will keep the wind and cold air off the bottom of your feet.
Can deer see the color orange? The answer is easy; scientists have proved that deer are red-green color blind which means they can distinguish between blue and red but not between green and red and also not between orange and red. This means a hunter will not easily be spotted by deer when wearing green, red and orange.
Furthermore, scientists strongly suspect that deer will observe orange as gray or brown, thus blending it in with the environment.
Hunters orange or blaze orange can thus not be seen by deer. However, the fact that hunters wear this has actually little to do with the deer but has everything to do with humans.
In contrast to deer’s eyes, orange is quite vividly observed by the human eye, making it a perfect safety tool because it lowers the risk of hunting accidents.
- The specific orange color of hunters orange is also known as blaze orange, safety orange, vivid orange, Caltrans orange or SSHA orange.
- Although wearing blaze orange when hunting during the specified hunting seasons, is a requirement in ±43 states, those who do not require it, still encourage it.
- The specifications for each State vary between covering the upper body in at least 144 square inches to 500 square inches. The specifications are very specific and strictly regulated for each State, so we strongly suggest you visit the IHEA website for full details of the State where you will hunt.
Legendary Whitetails has an affordable blaze orange vest. Check it out on Amazon.
What colors can DEER not see? Deer cannot see the colors red, green and orange. These colors will appear as grey or brown to them and will, therefore, blend into the surroundings.
As mentioned previously, deer are red-green color blind and can therefore not distinguish between green and red or orange and red. So, in effect, hunters can wear green, red and orange with great success without being spotted.
This brings us to the next question:
Can deer see blue jeans? Yes, deer can spot your blue jeans miles away. Scientists proved that deer can see blues and specifically short-wavelength colors approximately twenty times more enhanced or amplified than humans do.
The reason for this is that the differences in the cones of their eyes cause deer to observe different colors more amplified than humans.
In the case of deer, they lack definition of red, but their ability to see blue is more profound. For that reason, deer will spot a hunter wearing blue much easier than one wearing blaze orange.