That headline is rather unsettling, at best. Is it the truth or just someone’s (brilliant) scheme to sell a product? If the headline is true — is there any other solution (than the promoted product)? As with most things, the truth is somewhere in between.
In a nutshell, the problem is related to the UV brighteners in most clothing. China produces just about all of the fabric used for clothing, including camo suits. Even before the cloth is printed, UV brighteners are added.
The largest group who would NOT want these brighteners added are — hunters. Why? The short answer is: Turkeys and deer see differently than we do and they do see the UV brighteners. It makes the hunter look like a bright blue blob.
The solution is obvious: Only buy hunting clothing without UV brighteners! Therein lies the problem; even companies that promise they have added no brighteners — parts of the garment (pockets, lapels, etc.), may have been brightened before sale to the clothing manufacturer. So, what can you do?
Buying New Camo Clothing
First, you will need a black light. Lots of sports stores carry black-light flashlights. Check the camo clothing you already own. If you need new garments, the black-light flashlight will be an important tool. Shine the light over all portions of garments you are considering. If it glows, it has UV brighteners. Remember: Almost all camouflage, blaze orange, street clothes and detergents have UV brighteners. If you have washed, even once, your hunting clothes in regular detergent, UV brighteners have been permanently added to the garments.
Before your britches get bunched, 😉 let’s pause and consider some aspects of this problem. Folks in the forums have taken positions on both sides of the aisle. Some posture the idea that our ancestors did just fine hunting with what they had at hand. Of course, they seem to be forgetting that our fore-mothers didn’t have brighteners (UV or any other kind) in their clothes washing kettles.
Others espouse the idea that they’ve ‘done fine in the past, so what’s the big deal?’ Some hunters are of the mind that they should use every tool at their disposal. Where are you on this issue?
The Long View
I will admit that the photos of hunters in “hot UV” clothing is pretty damning! They certainly do look like big blue blobs. However, I’m not planning to burn all of my husband’s hunting clothes, even though they have all been washed in detergents.
I’ve decided to take the long view: Reading the reports by the scientists conducting the tests, I can see there is a problem. However, the scientists admit that deer and turkeys see this “blue glow” at two distinct times: early morning and late evening. This is during low light conditions. True, deer seem to be more active during these times. During regular daylight hours, the animals’ eyesight seems to be less acute.
Implications and the Real Considerations
If you are concerned about this issue, there’s a product available that will remove the UV brighteners. It is manufactured by ATSKO (www.atsko.com), the U-V Killer. Once this product eliminates the “glow,” you will need to always use their washing liquid to keep the fabric safe.
Another company is touting their wool hunting garments as an alternative to the ‘glowing goods’ that seem to be rampant in the stores today.
However, I think there is something close to ‘undue concern’ about the glowing hunting goods, to the exclusion of issues that just might matter more. Deer are much more sensitive to scent — and they can detect scent from much greater distances. There are some products that promise to remove scent from the hunter. I wonder if they work because deer are alerted when there is no scent, as well as when there is too much human smell. I think movement is another important consideration, that has been sidelined during this discussion.
The same studies (referred to above), make certain recommendations about camo clothing. Having patterned clothing that blends in with the landscape is more important than its color. The scientists warn hunters about wearing large patches of unbroken color. Two specific materials are discouraged: vinyl and plastic. Why? Because they reflect light. It is not the color of these two materials that’s important, but the fact that light reflects so readily from them.
Only you can decide how important this issue is to you. Perhaps the UV brightener-killer is right for your needs. However, I read something from R. Henshaw (on a forum) recently. He suggested purchasing a large box of 20 Mule Team Borax. “Wash your hunting clothes in that, do not use fabric softeners, do not use dryer sheets. Problem Solved!!!!!”
I’ve decided that ‘it’s a plan.’ Before I try the high-priced solutions, I’m going to keep it simple. Another idea I’m considering: Repair MDH’s (my deer 😉 husband’s) old hunting clothes, languishing in the back of a closet! Until recently, when textile manufacturing moved to China, this was a non-issue, no problem. I’m also planning to check out thrift stores in our area for camo not bearing the tag, “Made in China.”
**For more info about the amount of borax to use, go to article, “Words of Wisdom & A Bit of Humor” and look at the bottom paragraphs.
This blog is a companion to my website: GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com