Climbing Back to the U.S.A.

Well, it’s official: autumn is here. I’ve spoken with several maple trees and tried to get them to turn colors in some kind of sequential order, so that the colors last longer. I just hate it when they all seem to deliberately peak together, and for three days the Island is glorious in autumnal splendor, and then, just out of spite, they drop their leaves all at once. Then it’s rake, rake, rake, bag, bag, bag, bang, bang, bang (deer season), and suddenly, the whole Island looks naked without its foliage.

Deer hunting season is always a little scary. It’s amazing how close the report of a rifle sounds in cool clear air. I remember I used to call my kids in when I heard shots, just in case… I know all hunters are pretty conscientious and make the kill as fast as they can, but I still don’t like to think about it too much. What makes me feel even worse is how delicious venison is…but I’m not admitting that to anyone.

Many hunters wear bright orange fatigues. How do they know that deer can’t see the color orange? Obviously it must be true because there are so few Shelter Island men who would shop for fatigues and ask, “Pardon me, do you have these in mango?” Some of them even have matching orange rifles—completes the look, I think.

What do deer really see? From “The results of our study confirmed that deer possess two (rather than three as in humans) types of cones allowing limited color vision. The cone that deer lack is the ‘red’ cone, or the one sensitive to…colors such as red and orange…This does not mean that these colors are invisible to deer, but rather that they are perceived differently. Deer are essentially red-green color blind like some humans. Their color vision is limited to the short (blue) and middle (green) wavelength colors. As a result, deer likely can distinguish blue from red, but not green from red, or orange from red.”

In other, other words, deer can’t see pink either. Which begs the question, how many girl and gay hunters (I’m sure there are a few) are out there in that hideous marmalade mash when they could be in flamingo pink? It’s hard enough to look good in the woods with all the dirt and buggy things they have out there without having to try to do it in orange. Bring on the pink fatigues and there’d be more hunters, I bet.

Of course, the only thing wrong with adding those who hunt in pink is that whole thing about being quiet—like for hours at a time—just sitting in the dirt with bugs crawling all over, sipping hot soup, coffee or beer and not talking, all at the same time. It’s really quite an accomplishment when I stop to think about it. Sitting silently in an orange outfit waiting for something to walk by that you can shoot. It’s like shopping I suppose, but you make the kill with bullets instead of credit cards and you eat what you kill instead of spreading it on the couch to improve the decor.

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