Editors Blog

The Science Behind Whitetail Vision

Deer Vision

The first scientific study on white-tailed deer vision was conducted by researchers at the University of Georgia in the early 1990s. The research team, led by Dr. R. Larry Marchinton, used electroetingraphs to study and define a whitetail’s range of vision.

Electrodes were placed on each deer’s eyes via contact lenses. This allowed the researchers to study optic nerve movements and, hence, monitor sensitivity to different wavelengths of color. One thing they concluded is that ungulates can detect light 1,000 times below our threshold in the blue and UV wavelengths.

The researchers also taught us that deer vision is dichromatic, meaning they can basically see into two color wavelengths, blue and yellow. They can basically see blues, yellows, blacks,
white and gray. We have reported these findings in Deer & Deer Hunting over the years, but new information is now available.

A recent study on whitetail vision was completed recently, with results being published in 2007. This study was also conducted at the University of Georgia, this time by Gino D’Angelo and Dr. Karl Miller. They concluded whitetail vision is about five times better than a human’s. In other words, what a human sees at 100 feet away appears as if it is just 20 feet away to a whitetail. Miller and D’Angelo also concluded that whitetails do not possess the ability to focus clearly at some distances because their eye muscles are smaller and thicker than other mammals. As a result, whitetails appear to be somewhat farsighted.

Neither study tested the peripheral vision of whitetails. However, researchers and behaviorists tend to agree that the whitetail possesses a peripheral vision range somewhere between 250 to 270 degrees.

These findings not only give us greater insight on deer anatomy, they provide key insights on how to hunt deer in various regions across the country.