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Hunter Orange

On June 4th, 2010, staff presented an informational report to the Commission regarding the potential of making the wearing of hunter orange mandatory during some hunting activities. After reviewing the report and hearing public testimony, the Commission narrowed the range of options to three, which they will consider for final rulemaking.

The three options the Commission will consider are:

  • Option 1 – No change to current status (voluntary wear of hunter orange).
  • Option 2 – Require hunter orange upper garment and hat for hunters 17 years of age and younger while hunting big game and upland birds (except turkey) with any firearm.
  • Option 3 – Require hunter orange upper garment or hat for all hunters while hunting big game and upland birds (except turkey) with a centerfire firearm or shotgun.

If the Commission decides to proceed with potential rulemaking related to hunter orange requirements, they would do so at the September 30th Commission meeting in Bend, where public comments would also be accepted.

Members of the public may testify in person about mandatory hunter orange at September 30 Commission meetings. Written comments about the proposals can also be e-mailed to odfw.comments@state.or.us or sent to ODFW Information and Education Division, 4034 Fairview Industrial Dr. SE, Salem, OR 97302.

Please note date change: This issue, originally scheduled to be considered by the Commission on October 1, has been re-scheduled and will now be considered on September 30. Written comments to the Commission on hunter orange must be received by Sept. 28. People wishing to testify before the Commission on this issue should plan on speaking on Sept. 0, though public testimony may carry over to Oct. 1.

Frequently Asked Questions about Hunter Orange

Complete Hunter Orange Process Timeline (doc)

Does ODFW support making hunter orange mandatory?

The department has always strongly encouraged the wearing of hunter orange while in the field for safety reasons. While most game animals won’t see the color, other hunters will. But the department is reviewing the issue of making it mandatory at the request of the Commission

Do other states require hunters to wear hunter orange?

Forty states require the wearing of hunter orange while hunting (pdf). Oregon is one of just ten states that does not. Other states without hunter orange requirements include Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, and Vermont.

State by State Comparision of Hunter Orange Requirements (pdf)

Does wearing hunter orange reduce shooting incidents?

Yes. In states where mandatory hunter orange laws have been enacted, there has been a dramatic decrease in the number of vision-related (shooting) hunting incidents.

Although many states have anecdotal evidence that wearing hunter orange reduces such incidents, several studies have also confirmed this:

A study titled “Firearm-Related Hunting Fatalities In North Carolina: Impact Of The ‘Hunter Orange’ Law” found that legally mandating bright orange clothing in North Carolina resulted in fewer firearms-related fatalities in which the victim was mistaken for game while hunting.

A study titled “Hunting-Associated Injuries and Wearing ‘Hunter’ Orange Clothing – New York, 1989-1995” found that in New York (a state without hunter orange requirements) of the 125 injured hunters mistaken for game, 117 (94%) were not wearing hunter orange.

The study found that hunters who do not wear hunter orange are more than seven times more likely to be victims of vision-related hunting incidents than those who do wear hunter orange.

Will wearing hunter orange reduce all types of hunting-related firearms incidents?

No. Wearing hunter orange will only affect vision-related incidents. Over the past twenty years in Oregon, just over one-half of all hunting-related incidents were vision-related.

Won’t wearing hunter orange reduce hunter success?

It depends on the species being hunted. While it should not impact big game hunter success, it appears to reduce turkey hunting success. Most states do not require hunter orange for turkey or waterfowl hunting because these species have excellent eyesight.

A study conducted by the University of Georgia found that deer have dichromatic vision, which means that they have only two types of cones which enable them to see color. Deer have cones that make them sensitive to short wavelength light (blue) and middle wavelength light (green), but lack the type of cones that enable them to be sensitive to long wavelength light (red). This means that deer are essentially red-green color blind like some people and so likely view hunter orange in the same way as they would green or red. This suggests that wearing hunter orange would not impact hunter success for deer. While this particular study focused on whitetail deer, one of the study’s co-authors, Brian Murphy, confirmed that the results would hold true for all North American Cervids (deer, elk, moose).

A study entitled “Influence of Blaze Orange on Spring Wild Turkey Hunter Success” published in the Wildlife Society Bulletin found that hunter orange reduced hunters’ chance of success in calling male wild turkeys during spring hunts.

How many shooting incidents in Oregon are vision-related?

Hunting related firearms incidents are reported to the department by Oregon State Police and/or local law enforcement agencies. All reports received by the department are entered by staff into an incident database. The following information is a summary of the information for the 20-year period between 1990 and 2009.

Summary of Oregon Hunting Related Firearms Incidents – 1990 through 2009

Number of Incidents, regardless of cause

170

Number of Fatalities, regardless of cause

32

Number of Incidents, Vision-Related

85

Number of Fatalities, Vision-Related

21

Number of Vision-Related Fatalities, Victims Wearing Hunter Orange

0

How many hunters currently wear hunter orange?

Based on field observations by Oregon State Police Fish & Wildlife Division Troopers, ODFW staff estimate that between 15-25 percent or less of hunters wear hunter orange while in the field.

Related information

 

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