Orange hunter

While snow makes hunters, game and recreationalists more visible, it doesn't replace the need for safety colors, including blaze orange.

Clothing colors worn by deer hunters has a history of successes, and a few failures. In addition, some rules are regularly disregarded, such as wearing a cap that isn’t at least partially blaze orange.

In 1945 red clothing was deemed required outerwear for gun deer hunters. While the clothing need not be a solid color, at least 50 percent had to be red on all items above the waist, including the cap. Caps need not be worn, but if worn, were to be red.

Blaze orange clothing (also known by other names) was introduced as a substitute in 1951 and then replaced red entirely in 1980. Other hunters are sometimes required to wear blaze orange, too, including anyone hunting (waterfowlers are exempt) small game, turkey, pheasant, squirrels, rabbits, and archers, if there is any gun deer season in progress in that part of the state.

There are several special deer seasons throughout autumn, too, which require other hunters to don orange. The statewide, two-day youth deer hunt is one such activity.

Hikers, bikers, runners, pets, farmers and woodland workers often wear some blaze orange or bright clothing, even though they are not required to do so. Orange is strongly advised, but not required, in state parks, state forests and other public lands during recreation.

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Another color, fluorescent pink, has been approved as an alternate to blaze orange, although some still believe it is a poor substitute color.

Deer hunters using blinds must have a 144-inch square of solid blaze orange or fluorescent pink material visible outside their blinds from all directions. The persons hunting and inside the blind must be wearing blaze orange, too.

Those not hunting but recreating outside commonly purchase vests instead of heavier outer clothing to save money while purchasing an article they wear infrequently.

While snow cover greatly increases visibility of people and animals, it does not lessen the need for wearing highly visible clothing. That’s where the phrases “sighting snow” and “safety snow” come into play, and have pretty much replaced “tracking snow.”

Jerry Davis writes daily Deer Trails 11 times during the nine-day, gun deer season. This is the seventh column. Reach out to him at sivadjam@mhtc.net or


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