July 25, 2022
The arrow’s impact resulted in a resounding thump, and the buck instantly disappeared into a thick backdrop of evergreens. I didn’t see exactly where it hit, but I felt confident.
This was back in the days prior to modern laser rangefinders, so I paced the yardage off as I approached where the buck had been standing. My 35-yard distance estimate had been fairly close. Now I really started to get excited.
Excitement soon turned to anxiety when I couldn’t find blood. I searched for quite a while before Jeff showed up to give me a hand. Jeff and I bowhunted a lot together as teenagers, and this was to be one of our biggest successes to date.
We started following tracks I’d found exiting the scene. As we walked a portion of the trail I had already covered, Jeff suddenly pointed at the ground and said, “There!” Before I could even react, he pointed again, repeating, “There, there, there,” as he followed a blood trail that seemed invisible to me.
“Stop!” I commanded in frustration. “Where? Show me what you’re looking at.”
Jeff knelt and pointed at a small drop of blood in the dirt and pine needle mixture. When I focused on the spot, I could finally see a hint of red, but to actually confirm it was blood I had to touch it and look at it on the tip of my finger. I couldn’t understand how Jeff could see those little spots so well. It didn’t dawn on me that I might have a color-vision issue. I identified all my colors in Kindergarten! I knew the sky was blue, stop signs were red, trees were green, and bananas were yellow, and if asked what color shirt someone had on, I could tell you. Soon, Jeff had us standing over my buck, and I wrote off my blood-trailing difficulty to not paying close attention.
A few years later, I entered the military and was given a color-vision test. Upon completion, I was shocked when the doctor told me I was color blind.
“What do you mean I’m color blind?” I asked as I frantically started pointing out colors in his office.
“The term ‘color blindness’ is a bit of a misnomer,” he responded. “Most color-blind people aren’t actually blind to color; they just don’t see color as well as people with normal color vision. Color deficient is probably a more accurate description of your condition.”
Now I understood why I had such a difficult time seeing blood. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot from being a color blind — or should I say — color-deficient bowhunter. First, my deficiency has forced me to refine my “dry tracking” skills. These are the tracking methods famously used by African trackers we’ve all heard stories about. While I’m not as effective as they are, I’ve been forced over the years to step back and carefully consider which path an animal might take, then to scour the ground and foliage for anything that might be the slightest bit out of place. I’ve recovered many animals using these techniques, and all bowhunters should develop these skills.
I’ve also learned that I am not alone. While color-deficient vision is rare among women, it is relatively common among men. As many as one in five men have some form of color-deficient vision, and my personal experience seems to confirm that. Two of the guys I hunt with most have color-deficient vision. Bill Pellegrino is one of the best bowhunters I know, yet he can’t follow a blood trail to save his life. Likewise, my son, Lane, inherited my curse.
Even among those with so-called normal color vision, the ability to see color comes in differing degrees. So, even if you can pass a standard color-vision test, your ability to see color might fall at the lower end of the normal color-vision spectrum. I’ve enlisted the help of so many others to help me blood trail over the years, it has become obvious that not all people with normal color vision see blood the same way, and some see it far better than others.
Lucky for me, one of the best blood-trailers I know is my son, Casey. If there’s a pin drop of blood on a trail, he will spot it. It simply stands out to him.
Two years ago, Casey made a single-lung shot on a buck that didn’t bleed much. The two of us took up the trail, and between my dry tracking skills and his ability to see blood, we were able to recover one of the most difficult-to-find bucks of my career. Portions of the long trail were completely devoid of blood, but we kept following tracks and parted grass. If we went too far without Casey spotting a drop of blood, we’d double back and follow another path until we confirmed we were on the right trail. Our success motivated me to research new technological advancements in eyewear that might help me see blood better.
I soon discovered Bloodvision color optimization eyewear from Skōpt Optics. Bloodvision glasses use a patented technology called Optichromatic Filtration to help you see blood by intensifying red colors while filtering and muting all other colors of the spectrum. This makes blood-red pop and jump out against other colors.
I had an opportunity to test Bloodvision glasses this fall after arrowing a buck here in Colorado. My fellow color-challenged compadres, Bill and Lane, were also able to test them next to two other pairs of color-vision glasses. While the competitors’ much higher-priced optics seemed to make all colors appear brighter, they didn’t really help us to see red when it was mixed in with all the other colors along a blood trail, especially in low light.
The Bloodvision glasses helped all three of us color-cursed bowhunters, as well as two of our buddies who have normal color vision, to see the blood more vividly. As advertised, other colors were muted, while blood-red stood out.
Regardless of where you fall on the color-vision spectrum, I highly recommend you give these amazing optics a try. Any bowhunter will benefit from the ability to see red more vividly, but for those who suffer from color-deficient vision, these glasses could be a game-changer.