What Color Headlamp Should I Use For Deer Hunting?

Whether you’re bow hunting or using a rifle, one of the best times to hunt is early morning, before sunrise. Another good time is around sunset. Deer are afraid of light and will be most active during the twilight hours. But it’s not easy to see a deer at night, so experienced hunters rely on headlamps. An LED headlamp is a great addition, giving you a convenient and versatile light attached to a headband.

Some colors appear grey to deer. But there are various headlamp colors available; using the right one can help you see everything you need to – and if you choose the right color, the deer won’t see anything. Some color lights will spook deer, though. 

The best headlamp colors for deer hunting 

Most night hunters will use green or red lights to hunt deer. White light has strong disadvantages that we’ll look at shortly. Red and green lights provide illumination without scaring deer away. Each color offers productive help for nighttime hunting, but one has key advantages over the other. Let’s take a look at the available light colors.

Red lights for deer hunting 

 Red is the color that a deer struggles to see the most. This is one of the reasons that red lights are most recommended. I’ve never been disappointed by red light; a deer can even have a light pointed at them for several minutes and won’t notice, giving you sufficient time to line up that perfect shot. The view is precise and clear enough to guarantee you a clear attempt, and it stops your eyes from adjusting to night vision. But red isn’t the only color available, so what about the others? 

Green lights for hunting deer 

While green lights are excellent for hunting some animals – such as hogs, it’s not a great idea to use green lights for hunting deer. 

Various studies state that green is one of the easiest colors for a deer to see, which is bad news for you. You won’t make a shot if you shine your light onto a deer. While it’s not as obvious as white light, it’ll still allow the deer to become aware of the lurking danger and make a run for it.

The retina composition of the deer prevents it from differentiating between green shades and other lights. It can’t tell the difference between yellow and green UV color due to its eye characteristics. But they can see blue, white and green. It would be best if you also were careful to ensure your clothing is selected with this in mind – you could use the perfect headlamp but use too bright clothing and it will reflect light and possibly give away your position. 

Blue lights for deer hunting 

 Blue light headlamps are rare, but you could use them to read a map. Red light can make it harder for you to read a map. It’s not particularly useful for deer hunting, though. 

White lights for deer hunting

 You should avoid white LED lights if you’re hoping to be stealthy. 

When you look for a headlamp, you’ll often find white headlamps. It’s among the brightest and, you may think, would make it easier to see. Why purchase a light that makes it harder for you to see? It’s because deers can easily see white lights. You’re guaranteed to scare away your prey. The deer’s retinas are susceptible to bright lights. 

Deer also feed at night to avoid danger, so upon seeing any noticeable light will quickly bolt and alert any companions. 

Unlike white light, dull filters work best for hunters preferring to set camp at dusk or dawn. Shades may prove fruitful in dark environments since it’ll take time for the deer to notice them. The outline of the target is also clear enough to secure a kill shot. 

But it may only work for deer, as other species such as hogs will react differently. The Nitecore Ultrabright 1000 Lumen headlamp is a popular option for those seeking a white LED, particularly a rechargeable headlamp.

You can use white headlamps to move around camp and navigate the woodland, but it’s ineffective to use them when hunting. 

Purple lights for deer hunting 

It’s rare that you’ll find a headlamp with purple lights included – but not impossible. Purple lights aren’t used for stalking deer, but purple (or ultraviolet) lights do have uses.  You can use ultraviolet light to track your deer once you’ve made contact; if you need a follow-up shot and need to track your deer, it’s nearly impossible to do it at night. This is where purple lights come in handy; they’ll light up the blood trail to allow you to follow it easily. You should carry a purple hunting light with you.

Multi-color headlamps 

You can get the best of both worlds from a white/red light combination as you can use white light to navigate your camp, read maps/notes, and orient yourself, then switch to red light mode to stalk a deer.

Combination headlamps such as the water-resistant Black Diamond Storm are popular for this reason. You can adjust the light settings and change light output,  a combination headlamp is ideal for hunting trips. The best headlamps for hunting are combination lights, and you can find headlamps with rechargeable batteries, removing the need for you to carry around AAA batteries.

Deer behavior 

Deer tend to spend more time active at night, so you’ll need to find a way to track them in the dark, but they are afraid of all lights, including bright lights. You’ve probably heard the term ”like a deer in headlights”. 

A deer will freeze in front of an oncoming car rather than run due to their panic when they see a light. The severity of the reaction will depend on the shades, the blue color is most noticeable, but red is near non-existent. The composition of their vision gives them the best vision at night. 

Check out our top 25 tips for deer hunting

Wrapping up 

Using headlamps when hunting is a great way to up your game and improve the efficiency of a nighttime stakeout, but some colored lights are better than others. A high-quality headlamp is an essential part of your hunting gear. 

A white headlamp is common, but it will scare away any deer, so you should keep using white lights to move around your camp. You shouldn’t use white light to stalk deer. You can use a green or red light to stalk deer, but red light has more benefits as it’s harder for the deer to see. You can also consider carrying a purple, ultraviolet light.

Purple lights can be used to stalk deer if you need to take a follow-up shot, as a blood trail is hard to see in the dark. Regardless of the light you choose, you should use common sense when hunting and wear clothing that won’t reflect bright light at your target. Camo is ideal. 

Trey

About the Author

Trey is a lifelong hunter and avid camper. He lives outside Denver, CO with his wife Kaci and their lab mix Ziggy. They spend as much time as possible outdoors - hunting, fishing, and camping.

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