Since the introduction of Rep Jerry Costello’s bill to allow blaze pink as legal safety color when hunting, I have spent more time reading and researching more about blaze pink than I ever would have thought I would devote to what essentially is a color and perception issue.
The first question for me was concerning safety – would blaze pink be as visible and safe as blaze orange? Well, after pouring through data from every source I could lay my hands on – the general answer is yes. There is a bit of caveat though – It may not stand out quite as well in low light, and is perceived a bit differently depending on where it is located in the environment around it. The second factor is the shade of blaze pink. Currently there is no standard to what exactly constitutes “Blaze pink” – so theoretically, that’s something that would likely need to be addressed going forward should Costello’s bill pass.
The second safety aspect is related to those who are color blind. Interestingly, in talking with hunters who were red/green colorblind; they indicated that a light bright pink was indeed more noticeable to them than blaze orange. However when a fellow hunter who was brown/green colorblind and I did a quick test- he reported that he perceived it as green and felt that would definitely be a problem for others with a similar color blindness.
The other piece of the safety puzzle is how we perceive colors and their meanings overall. Over our lifetimes it is ingrained in us that blaze orange means caution, pay attention, take note. It almost becomes an instinctive response when we see the color on thing signs, to hunter attire. Blaze orange is universal signal to people. Could blaze pink eventually be perceived them same way? I suspect so, given that we have come to the place where we recognize the hi visibility chartreuse (aka lime) green as a “cautionary” color as well.
When Wisconsin introduced a similar bill earlier this year Dr. Majid Sarmadi, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Human Ecology, conducted a series of experiments to determine if blaze pink was as safe as blaze orange.
Dr. Sarmadi analyzed of a variety of currently available hunting products in both blaze pink and blaze orange on the human eye and ultimately determined that currently available blaze pink clothing is equally or more visible than blaze orange products. Additionally, Dr. Sarmadi concluded because orange is a color found in nature and pink is not, that blaze pink is actually more visible for hunters. Although I question that conclusion because I do indeed see many shades of pink scattered throughout the natural world. Granted, not usually during hunting seasons when we need to wear blaze something, but yes, pink does occur naturally.
Satisfied that indeed blaze pink could be equally safe I moved to wondering how deer would perceive blaze pink vs blaze orange.
There are plenty of myths about how deer perceive colors and the overall myth is that deer are completely color blind – that’s not exactly so.
Deer can see blue, green, yellow and UV colors. This blaze orange, being a “red color,” is difficult for deer to see. Interestingly, I learned that pink is even more difficult for deer to see because it is further from yellow (a color that deer can see) on the color spectrum than orange. Keeping this in mind, Dr. Sarmadi’s research shows that blaze pink is actually more difficult for deer to see than blaze orange, making hunters more camouflaged in blaze pink.
QDMA did an interesting, albeit nonscientific, experiment with the color of deer stands blinds and the color bright pink – you can read about it here.
The Twin Cities Pioneer – Press developed this great infographic concerning how deer perceive blaze pink –
All in all it truly does appear that as far as safety and appearance to deer, blaze pink could be considered acceptable in both arena.
That leaves us with the question – how do women in the outdoors, or perhaps most importantly potential new female hunters view it? Is it indeed something that will sway those on the fence? Maybe, maybe not. But anything that can encourage someone new to explore hunting, shooting, the outdoors can be a good thing.
Some readers may recall that back in May I expressed my disappointment in the Wisconsin legislators that introduced a bill to allow blaze pink as an acceptable safety color for hunting.
Now the debate will begin here in IL.
I need to very clear that I truly appreciate Rep. Costello’s work for sportsmen and women in Illinois, and I appreciate very much that he is always looking for ways to help increase female participation in the outdoors and especially hunting.
I also appreciate that he did good research, and looked at the studies done by University of Wisconsin regarding blaze pink, and looked at the fact that it is not as easily seen by deer.
But honestly, my heart sank when I first received the press release. Why you might ask? Why wouldn’t I approve of anything that would encourage women to try hunting?
You see, it’s not that I am against blaze pink. As I commented back in May, if it’s safe and legal and your preference, scamper around in head to toe pink if you wish.
It’s this outdated notion that slapping pink on something outdoor related automatically makes it appealing to women. Please everyone in the outdoors could we just stop with this nonsense???
I have over the years made my peace with pink, and yes I use a pink bowfishing bow - especially when teaching young girls. I’ve come to the realization that in some cases it indeed may be the pink that catches their eye, and then it is up to us to build from there to recruit and retain new outdoors women.
I appreciate that Representative Costello is looking for a relatively easy and low cost way to help encourage women, especially the teen and preteen girls to take up outdoor activities such as hunting.
I recognize that during these turbulent fiscal times in Illinois, there exists little to no hope that a new program could be developed in Illinois that addresses the recruitment of non traditional hunters, nor would it be feasible to expand current programs while we are in fiscal crisis.
It’s with those thoughts in mind that despite my feelings about pink, despite my disappointment that the notion that adding pink will automatically bring the women flocking to something in the outdoors, I still have to somewhat grudgingly, say thanks to Representative Costello for trying a low cost way to bring women into the outdoors.
“As a father of two daughters, I know that the tradition of hunting is not just something that fathers pass
on to sons, and in fact women are the largest growing population of hunters,” Costello said.
“Blaze pink or camouflage pink products have expanded recently, and this is a great way to promote
those products as well as giving charities, such as for breast cancer, opportunities to tie in hunting with
their efforts,” Costello said. “Hunting is a great tradition in Southern Illinois that I have cherished
sharing with my daughters, and I hope that time next year sees even more families wearing blaze pink as
well as orange.”
This tells me he gets that women have a place in the outdoor sports, and is advocating for recruiting more. I firmly believe when it comes to women in the outdoors and shooting sports, Representative Costello is in our corner. Perhaps when this budget debacle and fiscal crisis has been resolved we will see Representative Costello introducing and supporting some actions to add more Becoming an Outdoor Woman Programs, more women’s wingshooting clinics, more targeted programs and partnerships with conservation groups to provide increased education and mentoring.
While I would much rather see those types of actions to increase female participation rather just adding pink - we have to start somewhere.
Until then, maybe this is the best we can do at the moment.
There are still plenty of spots available for the Youth Pheasant Hunt that will be held on November 14th at Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park.
ILLINOIS YOUTH PHEASANT HUNT APPLICATION INFORMATION
Please review the application information in addition to these instructions to ensure that you have a complete understanding of all application procedures. Application information is available at: http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/programs/controlled_hunt/default.asp
For the Illinois Youth Pheasant Hunt (IYPH) the application must be in the name of the young hunter. The application must also contain correct information for the young hunter.
Young hunters must be between the ages of 10-15 inclusive on the date of the youth hunt.
Each young hunter MUST be accompanied by a non-hunting supervisory adult. Young hunters with a valid Illinois Hunting or Sportsmen’s License must be accompanied by a supervisory adult at least 18 years of age. Resident hunters born on or after January 1, 1980 must have successfully completed the Hunter Education Course provided by the Department of Natural Resources to obtain a Hunting or Sportsmen’s License.
Young hunters may also hunt with a valid Youth Hunting License and be supervised by a parent, grandparent or guardian who is 21 years of age or older and who has a valid Hunting or Sportsmen’s License.
No fees are assessed for the Illinois Youth Pheasant Hunt.
Stand-by permits will be issued by drawing held at the conclusion of check-in time when daily quotas are not filled.
To apply online - please visit https://dnr.illinois.gov/PheasantHunt/ApplyYFCFS.aspx
Additionally, volunteer adult dog handlers are also being sought for the Wayne Fitzgerrell Youth Pheasant Hunt. If you are interested in serving as a dog handler please contact Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park at 618-629-2320