"Hunter pink" remains the feminist option, but manly "blaze orange" is still a must if you want to hunt this fall in Michigan.
And that goes for deer slayers of both genders, according to a ruling this week by the state’s top body of hunting officials — the Michigan Natural Resources Commission.
"The commission has retained the blaze orange requirement for hunter safety," said Ed Golder, a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The ruling says that hunters must wear some highly visible attire that's colored in blaze orange although they can choose something in hunter pink to, well, accessorize.
"To be clear, this doesn’t mean that people can’t wear the pink. If you want to wear hunter pink, if you want to wear green, that’s fine. But you have to comply with our blaze-orange requirement," Golder said Friday.
Uh oh, some might say, orange and pink clash. The deep-rose color called hunter pink has become a hip, outdoorsy hue for hunting attire that some boosters of the sport thought might attract more sharp-shooting women. The idea of substituting hunter pink as an option for blaze orange got a thumbs up last year from state lawmakers in a bill sponsored by former state Rep. Lisa Lyons, R-Alto, who now is the Kent County clerk. In her bill, signed by Gov. Rick Snyder, the hue was defined as "the highly visible color commonly referred to as hunter pink, including blaze pink, flame pink and fluorescent blaze pink."
Whatever you call it, this shade between red and magenta is allowed to substitute for blaze orange in six states — Colorado, Louisiana, Minnesota, New York, Virginia and Wisconsin — although it recently was rejected as a substitute in Illinois, Maine and Montana, according to an MDNR conservation report in August. Arkansas allows another safety variant, known as neon green or chartreuse, according to the report.
But blaze orange has been required for hunting in Michigan since the 1970s. It’s an international standard for safety. Hunting-related injuries and deaths have steadily declined as a result of the requirement, the report said. The report added that — frankly — not every hunter would welcome peering into Michigan’s woods this fall and seeing pink. In fact, hunters opposed to it have been vocal on Internet forums, with some charging that the adoption of pink amounts to reverse sexism, the DNR report said.
"There are various online articles that reference the opposition to hunter pink. Many claim it divides the hunting community and that it is chauvinist," the report said. In addition, because the color is so new to hunting, “there is not an accumulation of field data” supporting it, the DNR report said.
Taking heed, the state’s final arbiters of hunter safety ruled that Michigan’s hunters must continue to wear at least one prominent piece of attire, visible in all directions, colored in blaze orange after citing the hue's solid safety record, proven visibility and history of research showing it enhances the safety of hunters and people like construction workers. The ruling came after the DNR’s Law Enforcement Division studied the issue and recommended in its August report sticking with blaze orange.
Bottom line in the woods this fall? Hunters must wear at least one of the following, tinted blaze orange: a cap, hat, vest, jacket or rain gear, any of which "must be the individual’s outermost garment and be visible from all sides," according to this week’s commission order.
The few exceptions to the blaze orange requirement include those hunting with bows or crossbows during archery deer season, the order said.