The Truth About Hunter Orange

| Last Updated May 4, 2020

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“There are only two things that are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not so sure about the universe.” - Albert Einstein

Hunter Orange has been around since the 1960’s. Its advent along with the NRA Hunter Education Program, now a National Mandatory program, is instrumental in keeping hunting accidents to a minimum. Actually you are more likely to be killed by a lighting strike than in a hunting accident. But they still occur, and when they do, the liberal media blows it out of proportion, giving the anti-hunting groups more ammunition to whine about.

The hunter education courses work in a basic manner, but in my opinion it still takes at least 2 years in the field under the watchful eye of a Sr. Hunter to produce a truly safe hunter, this goes for both young hunters and more so for new adult hunters. The kids seem to catch on pretty fast, but the older ones develop a know it all attitude, and here the danger lies. Unfortunately the trend is to mass-produce new hunters, and quickly go hunting. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way, your playing with fire.

In an interesting conversation with a well-known Hunter Safety Instructor along with two Federal game wardens, the teacher complained that we are teaching the new hunters to shoot if they don’t see Hunter Orange. “Oh Mary Mother of God” I hope not. That statement did not pass the common sense test, but perhaps this might. Be absolutely sure of the target before you pull the trigger regardless of what color you are looking at. This is what must be ingrained in the hunting student at every teaching opportunity.

Consequently, we have another underlying problem. The camouflage companies in their competitive zeal to make us all invisible, have convinced the masses we must all be completely camouflaged in order to harvest the AWESOME MONSTER BUCK. This media hype with a market intent, rather than a reverse safety issue, has some people risking removing the Hunter Orange as soon as they get off the road or the watchful eye of the game warden. We all know the truth that Hunter Orange works, but you have to wear it.

100 Yards Out

Hunters on private hunting leases (In Louisiana) are allowed to remove the vest if the land is posted and just wear the hat in elevated stands. (This is ridiculous by the way; you should wear an orange hat and vest anytime while gun deer hunting) Others climb into box stands that are completely camouflaged wearing full hunter orange, but now, no one can see the hunter or the stand.

Now there’s one for the common sense test. The brilliant answer I got on this one was, “Well no one is supposed to be around my stand anyway.” Well, let’s see who just might be. It might be another one of your lease members. It might be a kid that just passed the hunter safety course, left in the woods by his ever present and watchful father, to fend for himself.

This I see all the time. It might be a marijuana farmer or a DEA agent after the farmer, who knows? Could it be a lost soldier perhaps or maybe a bird watcher, or maybe a hippie frolicking in the daisies, who knows? The comment of course, was too weak to stand debate. You might see anyone, if they are supposed to be there or not. I wonder if some idiots think they can shoot someone just because they are not supposed to be there?

Here’s another dumb comment I recently encountered. I almost stepped on a hunter wearing complete camo while gun hunting deer on a Louisiana Wild Life Management area. I started to quietly turn and go in the other direction like you are supposed to. But I wasn’t able to contain myself. “Young man,” “You need to get that Hunter Orange on.” “I have it on under my coat. ” In an attempt to idiot-proof hunters, we seem to have made a better crop of idiots.

Hunter Orange works, it’s that glowing ember in the distance that tells the other hunters “Don’t even think about it.” But there is another problem, Drinking and Hunting, and I don’t mean soda pop. Private Leases have this problem much more than WMA’s. As many lease presidents allow it, or are politically motivated to look the other way.

Several years ago I was walking back from my deer stand after shooting hours. Of course, I wore the solid Orange cap and coat. I walked across an open field to my truck and encountered a drunken hunter. He said in a stupor, “You know, I almost shot you.” “Really, what part of this Orange outfit seems to look like a buck deer?” He just stood there like the idiot that he was. There were two beer cans on the ground, two full ones tucked in his belt and one in his hand, and the other hand held a .308. (Oh by the way it was the president of the club.)

I suspect he had me in a telescopic sight for a moment, possibly to check to see if the Orange Deer glowing in the dark, had antlers. My rifle was far too expensive to butt-stroke him, so I just kept walking. Perhaps it’s time to stop just walking away. NEVER LOOK AT SOMETHING YOU DO NOT INTEND TO SHOOT USING A SCOPE SIGHT. Consider a pair of binoculars instead.

With the alcohol allowed, and lax hunter orange rules, you get a special package, littering, unsafe acts with firearms, unsafe acts with ATV’s, No insurance agency will cover an alcohol related incident, especially a hunting accident. Law suits, closing of hunting lands, and the terrible example you are setting for your younger generation of hunters. With all of this, you will still get an argument from those in total denial, usually the drunks. Here is a little hint, as they load the body on the ambulance. The Investigator will stop and check the victim to see if he was wearing hunter orange, either way there will be hell to pay.

Does Hunter Orange scare the deer away? I suspect it does if you can’t keep still, or watch your scent control. That goes for anything else that has a notable association with humanity. I don’t know how I ever managed to kill well over 100 deer wearing all that Orange. To be frank, many times I have had deer including big bucks stare at me inquisitively while I was wearing complete Hunter Orange. I hate to admit to it, but several of them stood there and let me shoot at them several times. Oh and just for the record about 80% of those deer could have been easily taken with a bow they were so close.

Some believe they are safe in an elevated stand and take off the Orange. I want to be seen so a hunter who chances my way will see me and go in the other direction, so as not to compromise my area. In hilly country you may be twenty feet up a tree stand and be at ground level to another hunter. So removing the hunter orange in an elevated stand doesn’t pass the common sense test either.

Young hunters want to get the edge on everything and of course older hunters move too slow for them. It doesn’t matter if your bird dog will hold point all day. Junior Go Daddy wants to get there first. Better wear that hunter orange, because that kid will walk out in your shooting lane every time. I would say teach your young hunter the rules of protocol, and good manners, but some how in a world without table manners, this doesn’t seem to work. I once saw a father take his belt off and whip a 14 year old boy who momentarily went brain dead, and stepped out in front of him on a quail hunt.

Then he handed the boy back his shotgun, put on his orange hat and continued the hunt. In the hunting world you don’t get a second chance very often when it comes to being stupid. Is this implying you should beat up your youth hunter, No, just teach them to wear the Hunter Orange and be careful.

Then you have the Darwin Award Alumni, or those who will cancel themselves out of the human race due to natural selection, no matter what you tell them. Now this bunch of complete idiots will not only harvest themselves but take you too if you get very close. No matter if Jesus, the twelve apostles, Buddha, and Mohamed came down from their respective heavens and told these yahoos to wear there hunter orange, and to leave the booze at home, they still won’t do it. Therefore, regardless of lax hunter orange laws and lax drinking and hunting laws, better wear your hunter orange, just like you would drive your car defensively.

Nature has given deer and other game animals extra sensory perception to out wit the only being on earth capable of reason. Use that brain and wear the Hunter Orange if you have to or not. Pass it on.

My name is Jeff and I have been hunting and fishing for over 40 years. I am an avid archery lover, bass fisherman, and all-around outdoorsman. Currently, I'm obsessed with elk hunting but I'm sure I'll move onto a different favorite soon. You gotta love hunting for that reason :) If you have any questions, or just want chat about your latest hunting score or big catch, you can reach me at Read more about Big Game Logic.