Can Whitetail Deer See Red Light – Why or Why Not?

If you’re a deer hunter attempting to remain inconspicuous in the woods, you’ll want to choose the best light that won’t spook your prey.

But why is light color choice important and what do you need to know about a deer’s vision from a hunter’s perspective?

Can whitetail deer see red light- why or why not? Read on below to find out!

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Can Whitetail Deer See Red Light?

Whitetail deer cannot see the longer wavelengths of color, such as reds and oranges, and therefore do not see red light very well. Among all the light color options, deer probably see red light the worst.

Can Whitetail Deer See Red Light - Why or Why Not?

To understand why light color choice is important for deer hunting, we must first discuss how deer vision works and the ways in which they interpret light, color, and movement.

It has long been rumored that deer are colorblind. However, recent research has disproven this theory. Deer actually do see color, they do not see it the same way humans do.

To put it simply, two types of photoreceptors are involved in vision: rods and cones. The amount of color that can be seen depends on the type and number of cones in the eye.

Humans have 3 types of cones in their eyes allowing them to see a range of colors including reds, greens, and blues. Deer only have 2 types of cones, allowing them to only see greens and blues.

Basically, deer are red-green colorblind and have what is known as protanopia.

Another notable difference between whitetail and human vision is that deer lack a UV filter. This may increase a deer’s ability to see shorter wavelengths, like the color blue.

Can Deer See Red Spotlights?

As previously mentioned, a deer’s ability to see color has to do with the number of cones they have in their eyes.

Humans are trichromatic allowing them to see a range of colors, whereas deer are dichromatic species seeing only greens and blues. Therefore a red spotlight would likely be interpreted as a shade of green for a whitetail.

Although deer are unable to discern the red color in red spotlights, it is important to note that they are able to interpret its brightness. Red and green lights are among the top choices for hunters when stalking big game.

Do Red Lights Spook Deer?

Red spotlights can provide an adequate amount of illumination for hunters without actually spooking your prey.

Since red light is unable to be interpreted by deer, this would be one of the best-colored light choices.

Can Deer See Red Laser?

Deer cannot detect red wavelengths on the visible light spectrum and therefore will unlikely be unable to see a red laser. They may detect the motion of the light but not red the color itself.

Red Lights Vs Green Light For Deer Hunting?

Although red light and green light can both be used while hunting, one color outperforms the other.

When given a choice between red light and green light, most hunters prefer red light for deer hunting. This is because deer see red light the worst. Additionally, red light does not shine as far as a white or green light and therefore will only illuminate a short distance directly in front of it.

In theory, since red light is less intense, there is less of a chance of spooking a deer with the brightness of red light.

Can Deer See Infrared Light?

If you own a trail camera, you probably already know that most of them use an infrared flash.

A deer in infrared light.

Red colors are virtually almost non-existent to deer and therefore deer will be less likely to see and or be spooked by the use of an infrared light camera.

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