Tapping Into What a Deer Sees, and Doesn’t

Approximately 30,000 years after hunters took to adorning cave walls with their image of a deer, it occurred to them it might be more productive to consider the deer’s image of a hunter.

This was not an easy task. Deer have not left cave paintings of any humans, much less of hunters in camouflage. Those manly overalls and caps splotched with green leaves and brown branches may have looked invisible in the catalogue and impressed the other humans back at the lodge, but what did the deer think of it? Were they just rolling their eyes at each other?

Eventually, though, a few deer were bribed to reveal their secrets. They were given food pellets in return for taking vision tests. The results were not good news for the camo-clad hunters — but ultimately not really good news for the deer either.

For now, thanks to decades of research into ungulate vision combined with the latest in military concealment technology, hunters can don a computer-generated camouflage with fractal designs that look nothing like a shrub or a tree, at least not to the human eye. Named Optifade, it’s being introduced this fall by W.L. Gore (the makers of the breathable Gore-Tex rain gear) and promoted as the first camouflage scientifically designed to make hunters invisible to deer.

The deer, as usual, are not available for comment, so these claims of invisibility cannot be directly verified. But the psychologists who worked with Gore to develop it — Jay Neitz, an animal-vision expert at the Medical College of Wisconsin, and Timothy O’Neill, who pioneered the United States Army’s digital camouflage as a researcher at West Point — say they’re confident the deer will be fooled.

“A camouflage that makes a person look like a tree can work if you’re in a place where other trees look like that,” Dr. Neitz says. “But what if you’re somewhere else, or if the deer sees you move? This new camouflage is a totally different approach. It fools the deer’s vision system at its roots, so that it doesn’t recognize the person as anything.”

At Dr. Neitz’s laboratory, he tests some animals’ vision by training them to press touch screens, but the deer weren’t quite ready for the computer age. He and researchers at the University of Georgia showed them three cards at a time and rewarded them with food pellets when they picked out the right pattern by pushing a button with their noses.

“We can measure in animals anything you can measure in a human being and every bit as accurate,” Dr. Neitz says. “The difference is that a vision test that might take 10 minutes in a human can take six months.” The research revealed that deer vision is a little blurrier than human vision — about 20/40 — and that deer see the world roughly like a human with red-green colorblindness. Their eyes have only two color receptors (unlike the three in the human eye). Fortunately for hunters, they have a hard time seeing blaze orange.

But they’re more sensitive than humans to light at the blue end of the spectrum. And thanks to the eyes on either side of the head, they can see a field of vision covering 270 degrees.

Once they had assessed the deer’s visual strengths and weaknesses, Dr. Neitz and Dr. O’Neill worked out colors, textures and shapes with Guy Cramer of HyperStealth Biotechnology, a company that designs military camouflage. Mr. Cramer’s computer algorithms create fractal patterns that exploit a couple of ancient tricks used by animal predators.

The first and most obvious trick is to fade into the background, as a leopard’s spots enable it to do while it’s patiently waiting to ambush a prey. The spots aren’t shaped like leaves or branches, but they form an overall “micropattern” matching the colors and overall texture of the woodland background.

That trick, though, won’t work for a predator on the move, which is why a tiger doesn’t have spots. It has a “macropattern” of stripes that break up the shape of its body as it’s stalking or running.

“The prey can detect the tiger’s movement,” Dr. Neitz says, “but if the shape isn’t recognized as the outline of a tiger, nothing registers in the higher center of the prey’s brain.”

After 19th-century naturalists and 20th-century psychologists analyzed these camouflage techniques, military researchers worked out formulas for the optimum patterns. Before he retired from the engineering psychologydepartment at the United States Military Academy, Dr. O’Neill developed the type of pixelated digital camouflage — made up of tiny colored squares — adopted in the past decade by many armies.

“The essence of digital camouflage goes back to the old question: Is the purpose of camouflage to match the background or to break up the shape of the target?” Dr. O’Neill says. “The answer is yes — you do both. You create a micropattern that matches the ‘busyness’ of the background and makes it harder to detect the target, and you overlay it with a macropattern that makes it harder to recognize the shape of the target once you’ve detected it.” (For a look at these patterns, go to TierneyLab.)

But no matter how carefully the patterns have been computed, no matter how precisely the new hunter’s digital camouflage is calibrated to deer’s vision, there remains one large uncertainty: Will hunters wear overalls covered with pixelated squares that look like computer-generated abstract art? Or will they stick with their traditional preference (see cave paintings) for representational art?

Getting soldiers, at least the male ones, to switch to digital camouflage wasn’t easy, Dr. O’Neill says, because for many men camouflage is less about invisibility than fashion. Some soldiers hung on to the old-fashioned designs because of what Dr. O’Neill called the C.D.I. factor: Chicks Dig It.

If male hunters feel that way about their old overalls, there may still be lots of shrubs and trees toting guns and bows during hunting season. These guys may or may not be right about women going for this look. But the deer probably appreciate it.

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Hiking and Camping: The Perfect Combination

Are you interested in taking a trip? Whether you want to take your trip alone, with your friends, with your family, or even just with your romantic partner, you’ll need to find a place to visit, as well as activities to participate in. If you have yet to decide what you would like to do for your next trip, have you ever though about going camping and hiking? When alone, camping and hiking are both fun filled activities, but when combined, they are, literally, the perfect combination.

Although it is nice to know that hiking and camping are the perfect combination, you may be wondering exactly why that is. If you are, you will find that there are an unlimited number of reasons as to why hiking and camping are the perfect fit for each other and the perfect way to spend your next vacation. For reasons as to why you should give camping and hiking a try, you will want to continue reading on.

As previously stated, camping and hiking are things that just seem to fit together. This is apparent in a number of different ways. For instance, hiking trails are commonly found in areas or establishments that are referred to as hiking parks. Hiking parks, especially large popular ones, often have their own onsite campgrounds. You will also find that most public campground parks have at least one or two hiking trials on them. The fact that hiking and camping experts automatically pair hiking and camping together is a sign that camping and hiking really are the perfect combination.

Another reason why camping and hiking may be perfect for your next trip or vacation is because they are both designed for individuals of all ages. This is important, especially if you are looking for something to do with your family. Children of all ages, as well as adults, enjoy both camping and hiking. In fact, in the United States, you will find that hiking trials come in a number of different difficulty levels. For instance, it is more than possible to find hiking trails that are designed for beginners. These types of hiking trials would be ideal, in most cases, for young children or elderly individuals.

The cost of hiking and camping are another one of the many reasons why they make the perfect combination, as well as why they may be perfect for your next trip, vacation, or adventure. Hiking and camping are both affordable activities for you to participate in. In fact, if you decide to make a reservation at a public campground park, you will likely find that you are able to go hiking, on an onsite trail, free of charge. The same may even be said if you visited a hiking park and decided to stay overnight.

If you are interested in combining hiking and camping to make the perfect adventure for you, your family, your friends, or you and your romantic partner, you may want to think about making your arrangements in advance. Hiking and camping are both popular activities. While you may not necessarily need to make reservations to go hiking, you may need to make them if you plan on camping overnight at a hiking park or in a public campground. In fact, the earlier that you make your reservations, the more choices you may have, as many establishments allow you to handpick your own camping spots.

As you can see, there are a number of different reasons as to why hiking and camping make the perfect combination, as well as why they would be great for your next vacation, trip, or adventure. Hiking and camping is something that you may at least want to think about discussing with your traveling party. Once it is mentioned, you may be surprised with just how many people would like to give this perfect combination a try.

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The Essentials Of A Home Barbecue Grill

The Essentials Of A Home Barbecue Grill

Holidays and weekends call for families and friends to get together and enjoy the outdoors. In such occasions, nothing spells simple, clean and delectable fun like an outdoor barbecue party. Even without the camping trips or the parties on the beach, you can still enjoy the outdoors in the comforts of your own backyard. Grilling while lounging, talking and having fun has been a traditional part of every family’s weekends that has been carried on for generations. In fact, it is estimated that almost eighty percent of American homes already own a barbecue grill. Thus, if you’re a part of the remaining twenty percent who still doesn’t have one in your backyard, then it is only a matter of time before you discover the advantages of having your very own barbecue grill.
• Versatility in choices. Nowadays, the options for barbecue grills are wide-ranging. Barbecue grills now come in different varieties such as charcoal, gas or infrared versions. For homeowners who don’t have a lot of space in their backyards, they can still enjoy outdoor grilling and cooking with the use of a portable barbecue grill. Do you plan to have a barbecue party but the weather isn’t too supportive? Indoor barbecue grills are the perfect solution to your rainy blues.
• Get the perfect barbecue. Getting the right texture and flavor for the perfect barbecue can be very tricky and you can only do this through a barbecue grill. Through the intense heat, the grill can bring out the flavor but seal in the juice of your barbecue meat, ribs, and even the vegetables that you plan to prepare for your family’s Sunday lunch. Barbecue grills also add the distinct smell and taste that only wood or a wood smoker box can give.
• Grill it your way. Different folks enjoy different kinds of barbecue. The popularity of cooking shows dedicated to outdoor cooking has made it possible for barbecue lovers to experiment on a great number of recipes as well as grilling styles, thereby making every barbecue meal a delectable and exciting occasion.
• Cook healthy barbecue meals without the added fat. Weight-watchers and enthusiasts of healthy eating will also love the fact that they are aware of what goes on in their grilled food, as they can control the proportions and the recipes of their barbecue.
• Save money. Having your very own barbecue grill at home allows you to save some cash, as it makes a perfect alternative to dining out in a fancy restaurant. You can also throw your very own barbecue and pool party without having to spend a lot. A barbecue grilling party encourages quality time and is the perfect venue for a great activity with friends and families.
Barbecue grills nowadays are already available through different options, thus there is definitely one barbecue grill that will suit your needs and preferences. Before purchasing your very own barbecue grill, take into consideration the advantages as well as the disadvantages of the different types of barbecue grills. This way, you can be sure that you will get the perfect grilling experience that you are aiming for.


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Why Camping Makes the Ultimate Family Vacation

Are you and your family interested in taking a family vacation soon? If you are, have you decided what you would like to do or where you would like to go? If you have yet to decide what you would like your next family vacation to be about, you may want to take the time to look at camping. Camping is a fun way to spend your next family vacation.

Camping is often referred to as one of America’s favorite pastimes. There are a number of different reasons for that, as well as reasons as to why camping is great for family trips and vacations.

One of the many reasons why camping is perfect for family vacations is because camping is an activity that is ideal for individuals of all different ages. For example, there are many parents who actually take their newborns camping with them. It is more than possible for you to go camping with your children, even younger children, as long as you make sure that you keep an eye on them at all times.

Another one of the many reasons why camping makes for great family vacations is because camping comes in a number of different formats. For instance, camping vacations can be as short as one day or they can last for a week or longer. This means that you can plan your next family camping vacation around you and your family. In addition to the length of your camping adventure, you will also find that you can camp a number of different ways. For instance, camping is often done in traditional camping tents or in motor homes. When deciding how you and your family would like to camp, you may want to think about what would be best or easiest for you and your family.

The activities that you and your family will have access to is another one of the many reasons why camping is great for family vacations. Although camping is considered a fun activity all on its own, you will find that it isn’t the only activity that you and your family can participate in. In the United States, a large number of campground parks have onsite swimming pools, onsite lakes, onsite playgrounds, and onsite hiking trails. What does this mean for you? It means that, in addition to camping, you and your family may enjoy swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, and much more!

The cost of camping is another one of the many reasons why camping makes for great family vacations. Although you will likely be charged an admission fee or a camping fee to camp at a public campground park, you will likely find the cost very affordable. The supplies and camping equipment that you need is also extremely affordable, as most of the supplies can be purchased for discounted prices, both online and in store.

As it was previously mentioned, camping is great for family vacations. It is a fun activity that is ideal for just about anyone, no matter what the age. As fun and exciting as camping can be, it is important that you remember to keep an eye on your children at all times, especially younger children. Although camping can be a fun and exciting activity, it is one that can also be dangerous.

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Hiking Gear: Packing Tips

More and more people today enjoy the simple, wholesome fun of hiking. Hiking is an affordable, yet healthy and emotionally rewarding way to spend a vacation or a long weekend – and you don’t need to visit a travel agent.

Experienced hikers will always tell you that every detail matters when you pack hiking gear, especially tents and camping stoves. The right hiking gear and clothing, a properly and ergonomically packed backpack, positive mood and good fitness – all these elements play an equally important role in the success of any hiking trip.

Hiking boots are the most important part of your hiking gear. The right footwear will serve you longer and take you farther and safer than any training shoes or sneakers will. You can wear a cheaper pair of pants or an old t-shirt, but a good reliable pair of hiking shoes or boots should be as expensive as you can afford.

Many people consider their jackets as another important clothing item for a hiker, especially in the colder periods of the year. A hiking jacket can be a true lifesaver if you choose well. A Gore-Tex top layer will shield you from cold, wet, and windy weather. Many hiking jacket manufacturers use a layering approach in their jackets, so that an outer shell layer becomes not insulation, but goes over insulating clothing. Underneath a Gore-Tex layer your can wear a lightweight and even trendy fleece jacket, which you can use in warmer months and for other sporting activities too.

If you’re planning to camp in mountain regions during all three hiking seasons, spring, summer, and fall, then having a hiking tent is a must. Hiking tents can be used for protection from storms, winds, small animals and insects. Bringing a sleeping bag and an insulating ground pad are both very helpful as well. The insulating ground pad will help bring warmth as well as flatten out the bumpy ground.

A lightweight, dependable backpacking stove is much easier to use than campfires which are often prohibited in certain areas. Higher end models often do not require the use of matches or a lighter; however. it is always a good idea to pack matches anyway in case of ignition failure. Another version of a camping stove is a storm cooker which basically consists of a spirit burner with windshield and handle and a pot or pan for cooking. These stoves are lightweight because you don’t need a propane container, but are sufficient for one or two people only.

The newest models of camping stoves are environmentally friendly, odor-free, and very accommodating. To cook and eat take a pot, spoon, and a cup. To start the camping stove, if you don’t have an ignition feature, lighters are more reliable than matches. Take more fuel than you initially planned – camping stoves “eat” more fuel in cold weather.

To fully enjoy your hiking trip you must prepare beforehand. Even a small mistake in selecting your hiking equipment may result in an injury or at the least in discomfort and a negative experience. Check and fire up your camping stove while still at home and double check your hiking gear and equipment using a hiking checklist before you head out.

When you return from your hiking expedition, be sure to shower and wash your body from the, sometimes, harsh natural elements. A bath and body necessity is the Realtree 3-in-1 shampoo, conditioner, body wash combo! It is available in the top selling Signature for Him scent.

Happy hiking!



Hiking Clubs: Great Way To Meet Hiking Companions

If you are a beginner interested in hiking there is no better way to start than to join a club. Not only will you learn from other people’s experience but you will learn about the best sites locally and you will meet people who would share several tips you wouldn’t know otherwise. You may also develop new hiking companions. This is particularly useful for a person new in town or stay at home moms.

Selecting a hiking club is a personal decision because they all have their individual traits. Some hiking groups are casual and laidback others are more adventurous and aggressive. Some may cater to older members while others may be for the youth. Look around to see which fits you best. Below is a listing of a few clubs around the United Staes.

Alabama Hiking Trails Society

Located around Mobile to Huntsville, it is dedicated to protecting, promoting, developing, and maintaining a state wide hiking trail system. One bonus of joining this hiking club is that every activity you participate in is covered in the group liability insurance policy.

Fairbanks (Alaska) Area Hiking Club

This club is for Alaska residents. The members ski, snowshoe, and walk through all sorts of areas including the Denali National Park, White Mountains, Arctic National Wildlife Refuges, or ANWR, and along the Tanan and Chena Rivers and amongst others.

Off of the Beaten Trail

In summer of 2002 Loree and Ward began a hiking club for a group of singles who lived in Phoenix Arizona. Now the club has grown to more than three hundred members. Although it is a comprised of singles, you can separate the social from the hiking and pick and choose what events you want to participate in.

Trail Blazers Hiking Club

If you are near the Ouachita and Ozarkmountains of West Arkansas or Eastern Okalahoma you can join the Trail Blazers Hiking club. The club offers a range of hiking events, some short and some long, some difficult and others more laid back. There are hikes most weekends from the fall to the spring. You can see a listing of events on their website and decide what may be of interest to you.

Desert Trail Hiking Club

This hiking club has three levels of hiking activities available from easy to moderate to strenuous. They also offer up to five hikes every week. The group hikes in Coachella Valley and enjoys a friendly camaraderie among its members.

To find a hiking club near you, do a search on the internet or inquire at your local sporting goods store that sells hiking equipment. Joining a hiking club is a great way to meet hiking companions and have the opportunity to hike places you may not be able to do on your own.

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The Time For A Fire Pit Is Now

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Summer is just about done. One great thing about the late summer nights is that you can enjoy a fire pit, sometimes to warm you up and sometimes to serve as a romantic feature on your outdoor menu.

You should make sure that it is safe and permitted to burn wood in your living area and get yourself a nice fire pit, get some wood and it is almost as simple as that, you just need to find the right distance from where you and your friends are sitting and you could spend all night outside by a burning fire.

If you want to upgrade your outdoor experience, you can always look for a fire pit that has the option of serving as a cooking device, these are not very expensive and sometimes can be a real treat, you can cook all those classic outdoor things while you relax outdoors, the barbeque fire pit is something that you can also use for more serious cooking, it is in fact one of the most traditional and oldest way to cook, so you can even roast a small pig on a decent barbeque fire pit.

The benefits of getting a fire pit are numerous, you can enjoy a nice natural fire outdoor, as the months pass you could also enjoy your backyard in September and October, the only thing is that you will probably have to bring the fire pit a little closer to you, and you will probably have to get more wood to keep it going, but once you got a working fire pit by your side the chances you will be cold are low.

The fire pit provides a nice light in the night, this fire has a very good effect on socializing and having friends over for the evening, you will be surprised at the quality of interaction a nice fire brings out, it is just like those fascinating talks you used to have by the fire place, many years ago.

A fire pit can serve as an addition to a patio, it is a wonderful special thing you can add for parties and family dinners, and with a relatively low cost and low maintenance a patio fire pit is something that can only upgrade you patio.

You can also make your own fire pit, it is not complicated and you can find the basic materials in every do it yourself shop, the advantage of making your own fire pit is that you can tailor make it to fit your garden or backyard and of course serve your particular needs, some families enjoy planning and making the fire pit together, making this a family task, and afterwards everyone feels he has contributed to the new fire pit in the garden.

A fire pit is really plain fun, there is nothing expensive or complicated about it, it will warm you in cool summer nights, and cook nice meals for you as you enjoy a talk with your friends, it can add a nice feature to your backyard or patio and you will find that your friends, neighbors and family members adore the time they spend by it.

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Women and Camping

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Camping has long been seen as a tradition for men. However, women are camping more and more. Even women who aren’t outdoorsy are finding reasons and opportunities to not only go camping, but to enjoy it.

It can be quite fun for a group of women to get together and go on a camping trip. It’s fun to get away with other girls without having to worry about significant others or children. Camping is a true opportunity to relax and unwind, to rediscover nature and the outdoors. When you’re with a group that isn’t all family you get the best of both worlds. You’re able to get around a campfire with your friends and talk about anything. However, when you want some time alone to read or meditate you don’t have to feel obligated to be with the group. Make sure though that before you ever go to be alone that you let the others know where you are going to be and how long you expect to be. Safety should always be a concern when camping.

There also comes a great sense of fulfillment when you go camping with a group of women. There is a sense of independence knowing that you were able to survive without all the modern conveniences. Women often are seen as unable to camp. The truth of the matter is more that women don’t go camping while growing up as much as men do. Boys go camping with friends, with their dads, and with organizations like the boy scouts. Girls typically only go camping with their family if their family likes to camp. So, women just grow up with less camping training. However, with the advent of the internet, women are now able to learn all there is to know about camping from the comfort of home.

Going into the unknown is scary, so it’s no wonder that many women are apprehensive about camping. They don’t know what to expect or what is going to be expected of them. Now the internet can help plan an entire camping trip and it’s possible for a group of camping novices to go out and have a successful camping trip.

The camping benefits are innumerable for women. You get to get away from family; sure you love them but often our identity gets lost in the two roles of wife and mother. While camping you are expected to just be you. You are not acting as anyone’s wife or mother, you’re just being yourself and sometimes that means rediscovering who you are. Camping also presents a great opportunity to meditate and think over tough decisions. If you are contemplating a major life decision or are faced with some tough choices, camping can be great for you.

The change in scenery can give you new perspective. By getting away from all the other distractions in your life you’ll be able to look at the choice more objectively and think of new ideas or angles. Camping is no longer just about roughing it and it’s not just for men. Everyday women are discovering how much fun camping can be. So, grab a group of your girlfriends and plan your camping trip today!

Camping Disasters

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Have you ever gone camping to find that it rained the entire time you were out?
Well, if so you probably thought it was a camping disaster. Even though you may not have enjoyed walking along the creek in the sunshine or lazily watching a beaver build a dam while fishing in a pond, you nonetheless have a disaster camping story to remind you that the greatest camping places have moods too.

There are many things that can go wrong while camping and it all depends on the location you choose. Imagine waking up in the middle of the night to a bear rummaging through your camp looking for food! That could spell disaster for this camping trip, even if the bear finds what it needs and then decides to leave without making a threatening scene.

Camping during a severe thunderstorm can really make you aware of the powers of nature and maybe even keep you up but if you are prepared you can weather the storm on this camping adventure. In the case of a storm you will need to have put an extra tarp under the tent and you will need to dig small trenches all the way around your tent for the downpour of rain to follow. If you do not the rain will puddle up around your tent and seep in from the floor. So make the trenches around the tent and anywhere in your camping site that you need to remain puddle free. It can help to put your camping equipment and tent on a slight grade.

Camping during a severe wind storm is particularly challenging and can be a terrible disaster if you let it. For this reason it can be wise to set up a lean-to or wind break that can alleviate the catastrophic event. A wind break for your camping spot can be designed within minutes between a couple of the sturdiest trees in your camping vicinity.

A forest fire can devastate camping if lightening strikes a nearby tree. Many times lightening can start a forest fire, but most often it is put out by the accompanying rains before it gets out of hand. This camping disaster is not very common but you should always have an escape plan in any camping situation. A forest fire can also be caused by a camping enthusiast being careless with their fire habits. For this reason you must always put out camping fires cold! This means with plenty of water, and until the fire pit is cold. Never allow a member of your camping party to play with fire at any time.

A camping disaster is never planned. So make sure you do your part so you can be ready in the event of a camping disaster and possibly prevent it from ruining your camping pleasures altogether. Most of the time you can avoid camping during a potentially bad situation by consulting the weather service for that area and by taking an emergency shortwave radio for continued updates.

Enjoying the outdoors – with Realtree

Recipe: honey smoked turkey

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Honey Smoked Turkey
1 (10 pound) whole turkey
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
2 tablespoons celery salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 (12 ounce) jar honey
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Remove neck and giblets from turkey. Rinse the bird and pat dry. Place in a medium grilling pan.

In a medium bowl, mix together sage, ground black pepper, celery salt, basil and vegetable oil. Drizzle mixture over the turkey. Flip turkey breast side down in the pan.

Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat. Loosely cover turkey with foil, and place the pan on the prepared grill. Cook approximately 1 hour.

Place approximately 2 handsful of smoking chips on the fire. Drizzle 1/2 the honey over the bird. Continue cooking covered approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until internal temperature reaches 180 degrees F (80 degrees C).

Uncover turkey and carefully flip it breast side up in the baking pan. Baste with remaining honey. Continue cooking approximately 15 minutes. The cooked honey will be very dark.

Makes 12 servings.