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The Wearing of the Orange

Hunter Education

Published on: Aug. 14, 2012

I recently got a note from a thoughtful hunter whose safety suggestion bears repeating. He expressed concern about the alternative-methods portion of firearms deer season Dec. 15 through 25.

This replaces the old muzzleloader portion. In addition to allowing the use of muzzle-loading rifles and pistols, the new alternative methods portion allows hunting with center-fire pistols or revolvers, air-powered guns, longbows, crossbows and atlatls. Like the old muzzleloader season, the alternative methods portion permits archers to hunt without wearing hunter-orange clothing.

Exempting archers from wearing hunter orange during the muzzleloader season recognized a couple of facts. One is that archers must get much closer to deer before shooting, and wearing camouflage clothing helps them do that. Probably the more important fact was that muzzleloader season never drew more than a tiny fraction of the number of hunters who took part in the November portion of firearms deer season. The chances of a muzzleloader hunter encountering an archer in the field were very slim.

The hunter who contacted me expressed concern that this situation might change if the liberalization of hunting methods brings more gun hunters out in December. He worries that hunters who are new to the December season won’t realize that camouflaged archers might be hunting nearby, resulting in more accidents.

“I was taught … to always make sure of your target before pulling that trigger,” he said. “But also, and just as importantly, to know what is beyond and to the either side of your target.” He noted that following that rule is more difficult if other hunters aren’t wearing hunter orange.

Of course, this is a problem that turkey hunters deal with every spring because Missouri has no hunter-orange requirement for turkey hunting. The dramatic reduction in spring turkey-hunting accidents over the past 20 years has been achieved by raising awareness of hunting safety and encouraging spring turkey hunters to voluntarily wear orange when entering or leaving the woods or moving between calling locations. There is no reason why this can’t work for the alternative methods portion, too.

If you are a deer hunter, talk this up among your friends, whether they are archers or gun hunters. Firearms hunters need to be keenly aware of the possibility that camouflaged hunters will share their little corner of the woods during the alternative methods portion. Archery deer hunters need to remember some things that turkey hunters already know.

1. Wearing hunter orange when entering and leaving the woods is excellent health insurance.

2. Hanging an orange vest or other cloth on or near your tree stand alerts other hunters to your presence without attracting the attention of deer.

3. Research at the University of Georgia proved that deer are red-green color blind. Since they see orange as simply a shade of gray, wearing orange does not make you any more visible to deer. Hunter-orange camouflage isn’t legal for other portions of the firearms deer season, but since archers are exempt from the hunter-orange requirement during the alternative methods portion, orange camo is the perfect compromise. It allows archers to break up their outline while alerting gun hunters.

Finally, remember that any hunt that ends safely is a good hunt!

Key Messages: 

Conservation makes Missouri a great place to hunt and fish.

Comments

On August 16th, 2012 at 11:25am TANK said:

Good article, The way I see it is that it's your life that's on the line any time you step into an environment that you are not 100% possitive of what can or will happen while you're present. I wear orange when gun hunt, (hat & vest only). When I'm in a blind, I put a camo patterned orange hat on the outside top of my blind just incase someone else is around. I too as a hunter in Missouri wish we could wear camo orange in the rifle season only because i feel like a big block of one color to the deer. (375lb guy. Hint's the name. LOL) I love watching nature while hunting as well. And I see plenty of animals that either do or don't see me. Either way I see things every year. It's up to you rather or not you wear orange when you aren't required to do so. I'd rather be seen by any animal every day I hunt than not to be seen by one hunter who doesn't know I'm around as he takes aim on the same buck I'm half way through a squeeze on. That could go both ways. You just never know. Be safe.

On August 15th, 2012 at 1:59pm lowj said:

Actually, I wasn't suggesting changing the rule for those taking part in the alternative-methods hunt. In fact, I was hoping to convince archers to wear orange duing this hunt, even though they aren't required to. I agree that the increasing use of ground blinds presents another problem. It's one that the Regulations Committee continues to discuss. - Jim@mdc

On August 14th, 2012 at 12:16pm Anonymous said:

THIS WOULD BE A GREAT COMPROMISE! I'd like the idea of not having to wear hunter Orange during the muzzleloader portion of the season. wearing hunter orange when walking or entering the woods and then removing it when you get to your stand and hanging it in a location to be visable to other hunters. I like viewing other wildlife while hunting Deer, and hunter orange spooks all other wildlife.and wearing camo orange breakup would help too.

On August 14th, 2012 at 11:44am Anonymous said:

With the increase in ground blind usage, there needs to be some thought given to making a rule marking a blind with orange when hunters are in it.
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