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November 21, 2013

Hunters still need orange for safety

By Cathy B. Koplen The Daily Star
Cooperstown Crier

---- — Hunting season is upon us and people are gearing up for the thrill of shooting the big one. But there is a danger, experts say, that could be avoided with just a piece of clothing.

In addition to a hunting license and firearm, hunters should be prepared before venturing into the woods. One of the most important items of clothing necessary for a safe hunt is blaze orange. But for whatever reason, there are those who just refuse to wear orange while hunting.

“It is interesting because it is the younger hunters who are usually the safer hunters,” said David Leibig, director of the Conservation Alliance of New York, Region Four. “The younger kids have recently taken a hunter safety course and they know what is needed to be safe and they understand why it is important to wear blaze orange.”

Most experts agree that deer are colorblind and can only see shades of gray and blue. If people are wearing blaze orange and camouflage together, the varying shades will blend in with the environment.

“They can see ultra-violet colors like blue, and they can see shades in gray, darker and lighter, but they cannot see orange,” Liebig said.

According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, deer do not have red-sensitive cone cells in their eyes. They are unable to discern red or orange from green and brown. They do, however, have a sensitivity to various wavelengths of light. Deer are able to see short wavelength colors such as blue but they are less sensitive to longer wavelengths such as orange and red, therefore these colors look darker to deer.

“People should wear a blaze orange vest or hat when they are out hunting,” said Jim Losie of Losie’s Gun Shop. “Only really goofy people will not wear orange. I think most people know that deer are colorblind.”

Bear and deer hunting with firearms opened Saturday. There are several things hunters may have done to prepare for the three-week season.

Although New York state law does not require hunters to wear bright orange, studies on the Environmental Conservation website say that hunters wearing blaze orange are seven times less likely to be injured than hunters who are not wearing orange.

“During the past 10 years, not one person who was wearing hunter orange was mistaken for game and killed in New York,” the website states. “On the contrary, big-game hunters who were involved in firearm-related incidents were not wearing hunter orange.”

In addition to blaze orange, worn to ensure hunters can visually recognize other hunters, Losie recommended layers of warm clothing that are appropriate to the temperature, a good pair of boots, a hunting knife and a survival bag with food, water, a thermal blanket, a flashlight and matches.

“If you get lost, you want to have some food and water, and a blanket in case you are not found by nightfall,” Losie said. “I tell everyone going hunting always to tell someone where you are going, especially of you are out hunting alone. A lot of time you get out there and you think you are OK because you have a cell phone, and then you realize there is no coverage in the woods.”

In addition, hunters should be physically ready to walk several miles up and down hills.

There have been underreported incidents of heart attacks during the hunting season, according to information provided by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. Heart attacks are responsible for more hunting related incidents than careless hunting practices in the state of New York.