One of the main factors that determines whether a turkey hunter is visible is the type of clothing and equipment they use. Some tips for clothing include that a hunter be in total (i.e. from head to foot) camouflage while they are in a stationary position, waiting for a turkey to come by. Also their guns and bag should be camouflaged as well. This is suggested, not just because it will make you less visible to turkeys, but if you were only to go in partial camouflage you run a greater risk of being mistaken for a turkey. It is safer to be pretty well invisible to other hunters, while stationary, than partially because, if hunters can only see a part of you they may fill in the rest and convince themselves that you are a turkey and fire accordingly. Tying a orange ribbon around the tree at which you are sitting is one way to make other hunters aware of your presence. You can dress in orange clothing, but this is not a popular idea among hunters while sitting as turkeys are more likely to recognize you as a threat due to their keen eyesight. This and more safety tips are discussed in Safe Hunting Tips. Below are some pictures of some camouflage. It is important to remember only to be in full camouflage while being stationary.
While moving through a forest, whether it be to get to a position or to leave to go home, it is of the utmost importance to the safety of the hunter to be as visible as possible. When moving the hunter is at the highest danger of being mistaken for game as other hunters may notice the motion and mistake it for a bird. The most used method of making one visible while moving is wearing hunter orange colours. These mostly include vests, hats and coats. Some examples of these can be seen below.
The idea behind this is similar to the reflective vest that bikers wear while at biking at night or during dark times. That is, to make sure you are visible. But, the orange colour clothing may also possess the same problem as the reflective wear of the bikers, that is, being visible does not guarantee safety unless you can determine what is being seen. Now, this may not be a problem for hunters, since seeing hunter orange clothing may have become intimately linked with representing a person, since it is a highly taught safety tip. But one question may be is how the placement of orange clothing affects not only how fast you are recognized, but more importantly how fast you are recognized as being human. One method that might be consider a way to improve this recognition would be the biological motion paradigm. Biological motion is a concept derived from direct perception theory. Direct perception states that perception is immediate (Allard, 2004). Studies have been done using biological motion and "walking lights" and have found that people can accurately and quickly determine when a motion is human when the lights are placed on the joints (Allard, 2004). One way to test the effectiveness of this paradigm for this situation would be to do a modification of Moberly and Langham's (2002, as cited in Allard, 2004) study. The modification would be to video tape people walking through the woods with a normal orange vest and hat on, people walking through the woods with the orange clothing distributed around the joints and people walking through the woods dressed up in camouflage. The condition of having the orange clothing distributed around the joints could be split into two groups as well. In one group, the rest of the clothing that is not orange could be camouflage, while in the other group, the rest of the clothing that is not orange could be something else other than camouflage material. Other movements like turkeys and other animals could be added in as well to give a range of movement for the subjects to see. Groups of people, ranging from amateur hunters to experienced hunters and also a non hunter group, could watch the video and indicate when they see and recognize a human. Also, the groups can be given a button or toy gun and the participant can be instructed to "fire" only at the turkeys when they appear on the screen. The groups would have to be watching a different video than when they were asked to identify humans, so that memory of when things appear does not factor in to the results. The results should help determine or give insight on which method of wearing orange clothing is the safest.
For the non-perceptionist theorist hunter, who is concerned about how visible s/he is while walking in the woods or how well s/he is camouflaged when sitting still and does not possess a research grant, can do their own little test run. Preferably during a non-hunting season time of the year, get dressed up as you would if you were going hunting and take a hunting friend that you trust with you out into the woods. You can set up both scenarios of sitting in total camouflage with the orange ribbon tied to the tree and walking through the woods. Designate an area that is not too large or too small as you don't want to be out there all day and you also want to make it somewhat challenging. Next go and set up as if you were hunting a turkey. Have your friend then come and try to find you and see how close s/he gets and also what parts of you they think may be mistaken for something else. Afterwards, send your friend off and then get dressed up as if you were leaving. Walk around until again your friend finds you and listen to the feedback on how visible you were and potential problems they perceive may arise. If you are not satisfied with the way you dressed stood up, then change your clothing around in light of the results and go back and try again until you are happy and confident. Remember, safe hunting starts with you.
For places to go and buy some appropriate hunting clothing, check out your nearest hardware or hunting store for the latest styles or visit the links below.