A friend of mine mentioned the other day that deer can see into the ultra-violet range. Naturally I did some research myself to confirm this, and found this interesting article.
I learnt that deer can see in colour, but not very well at the red end of the spectrum, which is why red and orange clothing can be used for deer hunting. (Bird hunting is another matter. Birds tend to have very good colour vision in general).
The UV sensitivity of deer vision has some interesting implications. Many laundry detergents include whitening agents that reflect UV-light. In short, what to our primate eyes may be a nicely camouflaged jacket may look distinctive and out of place to a deer. I suspect as this information becomes more widely known some clever company will market a detergent especially for hunters. If you are going to use this as an excuse not to wash your favourite hunting coat remember deer have a very good sense of smell too!
The discussion of laundry soaps reminded me of this statement made about US Woodland pattern camouflage garments:
“… When they are brand new this pattern choice isn’t bad. With daily (duty, military) use and washing the pattern starts a light graying process and doesn’t stop until they are lightened and useless for their intended purpose. With that said some of the woodland fatigues do start to "brown out" and that is a good thing when it happens. With normal civilian wash and wear this seems to happen more often. With most military personnel we notice the graying on a larger more pronounced scale.”
If this observation is accurate a likely explanation is in the laundering process. Civilian owned garments are less likely to be washed by industrial laundries.
As many of you may be aware, the US Army has had considerable problems with its ACUPAT camouflage. Supposedly this pattern is a mix of grey, sage and tan. Most garments you see in use seem to appear to be various shades of grey and dirty white with very little contrast between the elements. Is it possible, perhaps, that some of the problems are a result of the Army’s laundering system? Another element of the problem may be in using combat-wear as general work and barracks wear, increasing the frequency of washing. Worth investigating.