Can Deer See Red Light? (Explained)


Deer’s eyes are built differently than ours, and therefore they can see different colors than us. While we are well equipped to see the red spectrum, like a blaze orange vest or red flashlight, perfectly clear, deer may not see it the same way.

Can Deer See Red Light?

Can Deer See Red Light?

Deer cannot tell red apart from orange or green colors, which means that there is a big chance they won’t see red light the same way we see it.

There are specific cells responsible for different things in each mammal’s eye. These cells called cones help deer, and other animals, see colors.

Depending on the number and type of cones, mammals can or can’t discern colors from one another.

Due to the lower number of cones in their eyes, deer struggle to see a longwave spectrum of colors, including reds and oranges. They can’t make them out from each other and also from greens.

How does that translate to a red light, though? It is rather hard to say. Although deer don’t discern the red color of the light from their surrounding, they can see its brightness.

Most hunters use red light primarily to preserve their night vision but not necessarily because they want to be “invisible” to deer.

We must remember that before the deer sees any brightness or color from our light, it may hear or smell us walking by.

The red light doesn’t reach as far as the white, yellow, or even green light, meaning it will usually illuminate only a short distance directly in front of it. In that case, there is a smaller chance of deer noticing the brightness of the red light.

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However, if the red light is directed at the animal, they will see the bright spot of the light. Although, to them, it won’t be red but rather grey.

Will Red Light Spook Deer?

Can Deer See Red Light?

Considering deer can’t really distinguish the red color from their surroundings, there is a chance they won’t spook at the red light.

Many hunters who use the red light noticed that deer are less prone to spook by red light than green or white. The color of the beam of the light fades into the background and is less noticeable.

However, the reason could be not only the color per se but the brightness of the light. As mentioned before, red light is usually not as bright, and therefore deer shouldn’t find it as disturbing.

Nonetheless, as prey animals, deer are genetically predisposed to bolt at any sign of danger, whether a small movement they are unsure about, a strange light moving in the distance, or shining directly right at them.

Even though deer cannot see the red color, as mentioned before, they can determine whether something is brighter.

Though a red light looks more grey to deer and blends with the surrounding, it is still light after all, and shining it directly at their eyes may give them a cue to run.

Can Red Light From Trail Camera Spook Deer?

Trail cameras with night vision use red light to illuminate the darkness and produce bright, good-quality pictures and videos.

If you look directly at the camera, you will notice the small red light beside the lens in the dark and a little red flash when the picture is taken.

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Usually, the light is too dim and the flash too small for deer even to pay attention to it.

Most times, deer won’t spook from the red light of the trail camera. There is plenty of photo and video evidence confirming that deer don’t care much for this type of light.

What’s also important to mention is that the red light used in the night vision trail cameras is infrared. It means that though there is a trace of visible red light to us, most of the trail camera light wave is completely invisible to deer.

Can You use a Red Flashlight Walking to Your Stand?

Can Deer See Red Light?

Yes, you can use a red flashlight walking to your stand. Considering that the best time to travel to it is before sunrise, you ought to have a light with you when it’s still dark.

Many hunters believe that you should know your forest enough to travel safely without any light and, if necessary, use the moon and stars to illuminate your way, but it is always good to have a light as a backup.

Red light is probably better than white in that situation because it doesn’t obstruct your night vision.

Red light is not bright enough to make you squint when it’s on and become temporarily blind when you try to adjust to the darkness after turning it off.

It also doesn’t seem to affect wildlife as much, and what’s more important, having a light on in the dark can alert other hunters in the vicinity of your whereabouts so that they won’t mistake you for an animal.

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The only problem with red light is that it doesn’t offer the best help in the dark because it is not the brightest. While using red light in the forest, you have to move slowly and watch out for hanging branches and roots under your feet.

It is also good to remember that while using red or any other light in the forest on your way to your stand, it is always good to point it at the ground in case there are deer around. There are fewer chances of spooking them that way.


Deer can’t see the red color as vividly as we can. It means using the red light is a safer option than using the white light because there are fewer chances of spooking the deer.

Even though deer can see the brightness of a light, the red light is less luminous and won’t be too much of an intrusion for animals in the dark.

It is also a good color to have with you if you want to preserve your night vision, as the red light is not as invasive as the white or yellow one.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>