Can Deer See Pink? (What Colors Can Deer See?)

deer standing in woods

Hunting is a significant part of human culture worldwide, and as a result of that, we’ve developed various advantages to help us hunt throughout history.

One of these advantages is camouflage clothing. However, surprisingly enough, camouflage might not make as big a difference as you were taught to think. 

The truth is that deer don’t see color (or motion, or patterns, or UV light) the same way we do.

So many things – such as camouflage clothing – work better as fashion statements than as disguises from deer.

This begs the question: what colors can deer see? Moreover, can deer see pink? 

What Colors Can Deer See?

When asking the question, “Can deer see pink?” it’s important to consider how a deer’s eye works.

As humans, we have three types of cones in our eyes that detect color: green cones, red cones, and blue cones. We can see red, green, blue, and any colors within that spectral range. 

Deer, on the other hand, only have blue and green cones in their eyes.

As such, while they can see colors ranging from blue to yellow (as well as some ultraviolet shades that we can’t see), they have trouble with reds, oranges, pinks, and anything on that end of the spectrum.

In essence, deer are what we would call “red-green colorblind.” 

Some of the colors that deer see will show up as other colors. For example, reds, oranges, and pinks likely show up as greens, browns, greys, and yellows for deer.

However, deer can see the color blue extremely well – even better than we can. 

This answers the age-old question of whether blaze orange gear really puts hunters at a disadvantage when hunting deer.

In essence, while the deer will be able to see a “blob” of something, it’ll be much harder for them to distinguish it from the surroundings, and it’ll probably look grey or yellow rather than orange. 

To sum this section up, deer can see blue, a little green, and other nearby colors on the short-wavelength end of the spectrum, but they have trouble with long-wavelength colors and some medium-wavelength shades.

The shorter the wavelength of a given color, the harder it is for them to see. Yellow is the far limit of what deer can perceive. 

The Question: Can Deer See Pink?

Surprisingly, the answer to the question of “can deer see pink?” is difficult to pin down.

This isn’t due to how deer see; it’s a result of how our visible spectrum of light works. 

If you look at our visible spectrum of light, you’ll notice that pink isn’t on it anywhere! That’s because pink is a color that our brain “creates” when we see violet and red light together.

For example, if you look at a color wheel, you’ll notice that pink exists in the area between purple and red. 

This is problematic when we apply our traditional idea of the color “pink” to deer.

Since deer see the blue end of the spectrum well, they can probably perceive shades of pink close to the blue end of the spectrum (i.e., purplish-pink).

However, shades of pink that are closer to red (i.e., rose pink and blush pink) would be just as difficult for them to see as red or orange. 

In essence, deer can’t perceive our idea of “pink” at all since they can’t see the color red.

However, if the pink item is closer to the spectrum’s blue end, they will see blue light reflecting off it.

It won’t look pink to them – it’ll most likely look to be a blue or purple shade instead.

The colors we see everyday follow this same rule. As we mentioned earlier, our eyes only contain blue, green, and red cones.

As such, all of the glorious colors that our brains perceive every day are combinations of red, green, and blue light. 

In the same way, since deer only have green and blue cones, the colors they perceive are combinations of green and blue light.

Since pink requires shades of red light, deer can only see pinks that reflect a lot of blue light. They can only see the blue portion of it, too. 

As long as you stay away from colors that reflect a lot of blue light, it’s likely that you’ll blend right into the environment for a deer. 

Final Thoughts

In the end, the answer to “can deer see pink?” is nothing more than a resounding “maybe.”

Since we’re not deer, we can’t know precisely how deer perceive colors and light, but we have a decent idea thanks to years of experimentation. 

The good news for you is that if you have a set of pink camo clothing that you absolutely love, you can probably get away with wearing it hunting, too!

image license: Freepik

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