It’s early, you’ve arrived at your hunting land 45 minutes prior to daylight and you’re certain where you need to start your morning. You know this already, because you have been scouting the past 3 weeks and have identified a pattern and created a plan to harvest this year’s trophy.  You send out a call into the dark cool morning and just as predicted, you are greeted with a response from one of the Tom’s currently roosted in the area you figured he’d be.  It’s time to make your move and get set up.

You quickly and quietly set up your position and await the excitement of the morning.  Again, as predicted the Turkeys make their way off the roost and follow the course, they’ve taken most every morning leading up to today. Excitement is brewing as they approach your location, and close the distance to 100-yards, then 50, 45, 44, 42 annnnnnd that’s when things start to take a turn for the worse. 

You’ve done nothing different, as the flock lead by the targeted Tom shift away from you.  With your bow still in your hand, as it’s been since they approached 150 yards, you’re left to wonder what happened… There’s no way they saw me… or did they

We’ve all heard the expression “eyes like a hawk” but instead maybe it should be “eyes like a turkey.”

We’ve all heard the expression “eyes like a hawk” but instead maybe it should be “eyes like a turkey.”  Turkey Vision deserves that level of appreciation. And better understanding their greatest survival strength may be the difference in your success. When studying Turkey Vision there are a few things that stand out.

  1. They see 3X sharper than a human who has 20/20 vision. Imagine a human, with 20/20 vision, aka the perfect vision. Multiply that by three and that’s how sharp the turkey’s vision is.
  2. Wild turkeys have monocular vision, which limits their depth perception. However, a turkeys monocular vision provides them with a very wide field of vision about around 270 degrees of peripheral vision. Compare this to our ability to see around 180 degrees.
  3. It’s understood these amazing birds also see around eight times further away which is the equivalent of a human using 8x binoculars. It’s like they come with built-in binoculars.
  4. They have an incredible ability to see color and UV

Can turkeys see colors? – Wild Turkey’s Vision

To make things even harder for us Turkey hunting enthusiast, the Wild Turkey see color exceptionally well and cannot only see into the Ultraviolet (UV) spectrum, but they use UV for survival purposes.

The structure of our eyes that allows us to perceive colors are the photoreceptors, namely the rod and cones. While a human (non-color blind) has four photoreceptors, with one rod and three single cones, a wild turkey has 7 photoreceptors, one rod, two single cones, and two double cones.  Which is just crazy.

This is a defense mechanism that helps turkeys identify patterns and easily spot predators. It also helps them notice movement, even the smallest of them. 

Turkeys’ ability to see UV light

One of the most interesting facts about the wild turkeys’ vision is that they can see in the ultraviolet spectrum. One of the turkey’s cones has a spectral sensitivity that is centered in reaches the UV light range, which increases their visions’ ability.

The UV light helps birds of prey

  • Monitor urine trails to detect preys for food and location of predators
  • Choose where to nest based on predator sign
  • Select mating partners based on the UV reflection of their feathers

Most importantly, they use UV light as a means of survival.

Avoid UV reflections and be undetectable!

Given the turkey’s sensitivity to UV light, it’s crucial for you to know more about UV reflections and where it manifests. For one, some laundry detergents might leave UV residue in your clothes, making it easier for turkeys to spot you due to glowing of the phosphors left behind from the detergent. So even your skin reflects UV, somewhere around about 12%. One way to reduce the reflection of UV from your skin, is to use non-reflective camo paints and sunscreen.  Yes sunscreen. When UV is reflected it takes on a white appearance and when it’s absorbed it appears black. So, wearing a UV absorbing sunscreen will effectively conceal your presence, as it will appear black and better conceal you to your environmental surroundings. Plus, as an outdoor enthusiast we are often exposed to direct sunlight for an extensive period of time. So, wearing sunscreen is really a practice we should religiously adhere to, so we remain safe from the harmful rays of the sun which increases our risk of skin cancer and other health related diseases. 

But there’s one thing that might be giving you away, more than anything else – your glasses.

Eyeglass Lenses can reflect between 20 and 30% UV light at zero incident angle (meaning straight on) the percentage of UV reflection is exacerbated as you move 20, 40, 60 degrees etc. in any angle from center. Making UV even more available to the field the Turkey is in and exposing you. Add any subtle movements to it, and your turkey is gone.  The solution to this is a patent pending technology called Concealment Coating which is part of the RLVNT Wildlife Vision System. It’s the only product in the market that allows the pass through of UV to be absorbed in the lens, and not reflected back into the field, which is what is happening with all the other coatings and lenses in the market.

Key Takeaway

It’s been said that if turkeys could smell, you wouldn’t be able to harvest them. harvesting them would be nearly impossible. That’s probably true because with such an incredible visual system vision it’s already hard enough. The key to succeeding is concealment. So, next time you’re out there, move as little as possible, choose your camo-gear wisely, wear absorbing sunscreen and be sure you are not wearing eyeglasses that reflect UV. 


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