Deer eyesight

Recently I have given some thought to deer's eyesight and so thought I'd look into this matter some more and perhaps get some feedback from other peoples observations?

The issue first arose in my mind after stalking one of my grounds in Hampshire. The ground in particular has both Fallow and Roe and it is the comparison between the eyesight capabilities of these two species that first gave rise to my thought.

It appeared consistently true to me that Fallow have superior eyesight to Roe. I am not referring to the obvious advantages gained from Fallow deer being in a herd and Roe being more solitary, but instead with reference to the individual.

On many occasions I have observed that on those occasions that I have found myself face to face with a deer just a matter of a few tens of yards away, the two species have behaved quite differently to the site of me.

Provided I remain completely still I find that Roe deer after a long period of starring directly at me appear unable to distinguish me from my surroundings on the other hand Fallow seem more able to make out my human form and are quicker on their hooves!!

Clearly there will be a huge number of variables in each situation ie type of camouflage, background, levels of light etc, etc however as best I am able to distinguish Roe appear to consistently possess poorer eyesight than fallow.

Being a prey species and having their eyes on the side of their heads Deer have far superior visual field than man, in fact a deer's field of view is approx 310 degrees as opposed to man who has a 180 degree field of vision. Their pupils are also oval in shape and positioned parallel to the horizon.

Whilst this gives deer a huge advantage in spying an approaching hunter their lack of binocular type vision along with only a small amount of cone cells in their retina means that they have poor depth and colour vision. Indeed it appears that their colour vision extends only to shades of blue and green.

Understanding the pro's and con's of our prey's senses is key to successful hunting. However the question in my mind still remains: Do Fallow genuinely have better eyesight than Roe?

Sadly most studies have been on Fallow and White tail deer and so perhaps until we have more scientific research it will be impossible to get a conclusive answer. In the mean time I'll continue to test my findings in the field and will be interested to hear the opinions of other stalkers?

 

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