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02/24/17 The Science Behind Hunting Coyotes Using Red Spotlights

Article - February 24, 2016 By

5 Million Candlepower Handheld Rechargeable Spotlight - Red Hunting Lens - Spot/Flood

The Science Behind Hunting Coyotes Using Red Spotlights

Hunting nocturnal animals, such as coyotes and wild hogs, call for unique practices that expose the natural weakness of nighttime creatures. One of these practices involves the use of red spotlights to target animals that are color blind, dichromatic or have poor eyesight. The application of this technique strongly relies on the hunter’s knowledge in light manipulation and various degrees of color perception displayed by the nocturnal creatures.

This article elaborates on the use of red luminaries to gain a competitive edge over coyotes and other hunters in the field. It is important to consider that the application of this specific type of fixture (including the color) is only effective when used on this particular animal. Moreover, due to a myriad of external factors that affect the effectiveness of this technique, such as noise, scent and a hunter’s ability to wield a weapon, it would be impossible to fully (and solely) rely on this practice while hunting coyotes.

Coyotes and Color Perception

Coyotes are colorblind; and therefore, cannot distinguish color accurately. For such animals, red appears gray. However, it is important to consider that out of all the colors in the visible spectrum, the creatures are able to detect the color blue. The animal’s inability to see red colors is the main reason why hunters use red lights to locate, track and distinguish coyotes in open environments. The creatures only have to two types of color receptors, compared to three for humans.

In this case, colorblind does not mean that all the animal can see is black and white. A study titled “Color Vision in the Dog” published by J. Neitz, T. Geist, and G.S. Jacobs (1989) suggests that green, yellow and orange look very similar for dogs. During testing, scientists uncovered that the animals can differentiate shades of violet, indigo and blue. Coyotes (canis latrans) also fall under this study, even though it focuses solely on dogs (canis familiaris). Wolves (canis lupus), dogs and coyotes are all related to each other. In fact, the three species are so close that they can interbreed and produce healthy offspring.

The study further concludes that color-related factors during hunting are the least critical factors that can help individuals meet their objectives on the field. But for a thorough approach to this technique, it is recommended not to wear blue or use blue lights.

How to Avoid Spooking

Red light is the best option to go with, as long as you can control the brightness settings of the luminary. Brightness features are needed to prevent spooking. But how can coyotes get spooked over a light that they can’t see? The animals have robust night vision skills and are extremely sensitive to movement. This makes up for their lack of “fovea” (a dense section in the retina that helps decipher details in vision-related functions and characteristics). Coyotes can also hear and smell very well. Therefore, if you use a very bright light, which could easily disrupt your target’s surroundings, the animal will likely get spooked and leave the area immediately.

Many hunters assume that using a red light would allow them to simply walk up to the creature and start shooting. There are numerous videos online of hunters doing this, with some being successful (against wild hogs in farm settings). While hunting coyotes, the technique of approaching animals directly should be avoided. This is because the creatures will still be able to smell you approaching them, which is why most people use scent-free detergent on their clothes to avoid detection. Even the scent of unfamiliar objects, such as burnt wires, fecal droppings on shoes and hair products could give away the position and intentions of hunters.

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