UV Killers

Update 2014– I have updated this article, because this is still one my most-read pieces.  It originally was an off-hand post on D&DH Forum.  As we near the 6th anniversary, I thought I’d update things here and write a look back:

UV Killer Redux


It is absolutely ludicrous to believe that deer are sensitive to UV. The mammalian eye simply is not built to resolve visible light AND UV light– not to the extent purported. Deer do not have magic eyes. They see a lot like we do, except they see less red and more blue and green. (EDIT: I was partially right about this back in 2008. The real truth is that deer do have UV receptors in their retinas, but they cannot focus the light. It probably appears much as a defuse glow to them. However, read on and you will see why this point is moot.)

This is the classic case of somebody creating a need and then attempting to fill it.

I have a couple of books on deer hunting that devote whole chapters to this anti-UV craze. I’m sure the authors themselves were just reporting what was available at the time. If you go back and look at it, this craze was typical of hunting gadgetry. Somebody comes out with a product that promises no-UV brighteners added to their clothes. Then somebody comes out with a product that will kill UV brighteners already on your clothes. Then . . .

The fact of the matter is that UV-brighteners exist, but they’re put on clothes to make them whiter than white and brighter-than-bright– not something you’d do to the average camo material. At the time UV brighteners became the big bugaboo for hunters, women’s fashion was big on white stockings. UV sensitive dies were put on the fabric to keep them from looking dull in office lighting. As a result, when they got out in the sunlight they’d fluoresce to the point of annoyance. I’ve been in the woods now for 26 seasons. I’ve never seen anyone’s hunting clothes with that kind of day-glo. (Edit: In doing the testing for Atsko, I did find a couple of samples of Mossy Oak that had small white patches in the camo that flouresced in UV.  These were put there to improve the contrast of the camo pattern.  However, I tested a bunch of other camo material and none glowed demonstrably when exposed to any UV light)

That is with one exception. Why is it we go to such lengths to kill UV on all our other clothes and then don fluorescent hunter orange hats and vests? Has anyone ever stopped to think how silly this all gets? I can see an orange hat at a distance of a mile or more when it gets into the sun. I’m sure the deer can too. They just don’t pay any attention to it. To them, it’s just a BRIGHT gray (?). What is bright gray?  (EDIT:  it turns out deer don’t see hunter orange as gray. They see it as a muted yellow. I did a post on it a few years later: What do deer really see? )

So now I spray UV Killer on it– somehow this magic potion dulls one dye (the UV brightener) without touching any other color. Hmmmm. Selective bleaching. There’s a trick! It kills the UV dye on my camo clothes, but does not touch the florescence of my orange vest. How do it know? How do it know?  (EDIT: Truth is, Atsko was already selling a UV-Suppressed  vest in 2008.  I got a sample of the fabric, and though legal, I was inclined to pick safety over fashion.)

Back in the 20’s the canned tuna industry was a tight race– nobody had clear leadership in the field. All tuna was pink. Then Bumble Bee Tuna accidentally came up with a way to bleach tuna and turn it white. They didn’t mean to. It just happened that way. Stuck with bleached tuna, somebody in the marketing department came up with an idea. Their ad campaign: “Bumble Bee Tuna– Guaranteed not to turn pink!” Bumble Bee got on top and stayed there for years. I’ll leave you to ponder that one.


Update (8/8/2014)

This all started innocently enough. I was just expressing my opinion on UV suppression.  Next thing I know I’m embroiled in controversy over UV Killer.  I tested  the product at Atsko’s request and found it was useless. The real truth finally came out a few years later, when I discovered an article,  UV and Reindeer.    Along the way, it accounted for a bunch of posts on this weblog:

Shamanic Posts re: Elephant Repellent and Other Things Useless

What is the truth?  Deer DO  have UV receptors in their eyes, but they are meant to pick out predators in a snowy environment. Fur shows up darker in UV. This is the exact opposite of the UV suppression hype tries to tell you.

However, the real rotten snot in this whole saga is the basic fact that UV enhancers in clothing do not themselves emit UV, otherwise we  humans would not see the glow. What UV fluorescing dye does is react to UV light and then re-emit things in the visible part of the spectrum.  That’s why we see things like zinc oxide as being a brighter, whiter white in bright sunlight.  With UV suppression products, you are not only being sold something that does a lame job of what it is purporting to do, but what it is doing is useless and may be counter productive.

The shamanic clown suit

The shamanic clown suit

If you still doubt me, just look at this pic of me in my UV radioactive clownsuit that I got back in 2011 and have hunted in it more times than not since– if for no other reason than to show how stupid this whole UV Suppression thing is.  The deer still show up under my stand. They still look right through me.  When folks talk about UV and deer point them to the shaman. I will set them straight.



UV Killers — 10 Comments

  1. Dear Shaman,
    If you believe your readers would be interested in a two sided discussion of U-V-Killer and the science of deer vision, I will try to engage in a conversation.
    In any case it would be only fair to direct them to Atsko.com where the dvd and book and hundreds of references in juried periodicals are all available at no cost.
    Dan Gutting, Atsko Inc.

  2. Dan:

    I’d love to have that discussion. I’ve already been on Atsko.com I did what your demo video suggested and took a bunch of my camo and put it under a UV light. Zip. Nada.

    Some of this stuff is 20 years old. Some is fairly recent. None of it fluoresced the way the camo your video suggested. What am I doing wrong?

    I also tried a bunch of my other clothing, and only a small number of white and light blue shirts had the glow under my UV light.

    Normally, I only use Sodium Bicarbonate to wash my hunting clothes. Could that have something to do with it?

    Write soon. Write often.

  3. Dear Shaman,
    Thanks for the invitation.
    So you’re not seeing much glow on your camo. Maybe that’s a good thing.
    How about your blacklight. Is it a screw in bulb like a std 60 watt incandescent bulb? If so, it makes very little UV light and a lot of short blue light. It will light those psychodelic posters from the 70s , but only a small percentage of the 200 compounds used in cloth, paper, and laundry products.
    If you have a dark purple fluorescent tube that is marked 350BLB or an LED from Atsko you may have a lot of good camo reguardless of the pattern.
    I check back,
    Dan of Atsko

  4. Dan,

    I’ve got the 60 watt incandescent bulb. I’ve had it for years over the laundry, because I read an article years ago. The detergent the wife uses glows like all get out, but not the hunting clothes. Never has.

    None of my camo, old or new glows. What’s up with that?

    Could it be the way I wash the clothes?

  5. Dear Shaman,
    Nothing is conclusive because you are using an incondescent bulb.If nothing glows at all you may have “selected” clothing over the years that you were successful with. I would suggest that the reason why you were successful with these pieces may be that they don’t glow. If you have any interest in evaluating your need for U-V-Killer or the effectiveness of it you will need to get a 350BLB flourescent light.
    Sincerely, Dan

  6. Dan, it just so happens that I’ve been hitting Hancock fabrics for 20 years, picking up swatches of this and that when their camo remnants go on sale. Some are name brand camo patterns , some are no-name stuff. I just found it handy to have camo fabric around for making blinds,etc. My collection goes back to Crumley’s earliest Tre-Bark in 1986.

    I tried everything. Not only the fabric, but all my clothes. I mean EVERYTHING, and could not get a glow. On the other hand, the white bed sheets glow, the laundry detergent glows. Some of my wife’s clothes glow.

    If you want to send me your 350BLB light, some UV Killer, and whatever else you want, I’ll be happy to review it for my weblog, and I will also submit the review for publication in all the venues where I am currently being published.

    I’m also perfectly happy to let this whole thing drop. You can color me an unrepentant skeptic– live and let live. For my part, I just wrote a review of Dave Samuel and Roger Zaiglin’s book, White tail Advantage and politely left out any comment on their glowing endorsements of your product line.(pun intended)

    On the other hand, you can send me a day-glow UV-radioactive clown suit, and a big day-glo UV painted sign that says “DANGER: HUNTER” and I’ll wear the suit and sit in my treestand under the sign all during season as long as you agree to publish all my kill photos in full page ads wherever you are currently advertising. Frankly, I do not think the clown suit or the sign will make much difference to my success as long as I can treat them with a little baking soda to get the stink off.

    I’m not the Myth Busters. In fact, I am a practicing shaman; we live for myths and rituals. This all looks like a hunter doing some arcane cleansing ritual to get rid of the unseen evil spirits to me. I dig that. I would not want to see UV Killer go away anymore than I would like to hunt under a sky devoid of Orion.

    Write soon. Write often.

  7. I have received your sample, and I am conducting preliminary tests on it. I will publish the results as soon as I can.


  8. Tests completed:

    UV-Killer did have an effect of dampening UV-reflectance on a piece of copier paper, but showed no effect on dampening same on any tested fabrics.

  9. Dear Shamen,
    It is evident from your pictures that your incondescent Blacklight does not provide the short wavelenght energy to activate most brighteners. It has plenty of power, but all longer wavelenght than what is needed. Please google
    and you will see several examples of fabric and detergent under both incondescent light and 350 BLB.
    Is the counter accurate that indicates -0- following this blog?
    Perhaps we should move this discussion to D & D H ?
    Dan Gutting, Atsko Inc

  10. http://forum.deeranddeerhunting.com/tm.aspx?m=13598


    Per your request, I have moved this discussion over to the Deer and Deer Hunting Forum under General Discussions.  Yes, I saw the page for WASHING ACU BDU.  However, I must contend that the test I ran was valid, for at least as far as it went:

    1)  I was able to get a glow registering on the camera.
    2) There was a definite difference between fabrics that glowed and those that did not.
    3)  I picket several pieces of my camo fabric and used my detergent
    4)  I did see the effect your instructions said on the white paper, I just did not see it on the fabric

    I will be more than happy to repeat the test using any illuminating device you want to send me. I will also be happy to substitute your choice of detergent.  Obviously Ultra-Gain just didn’t have the right stuff.

    Whatever counter you’re looking at is probably not right.  I’m using Google Analytics on that weblog site, and I’m showing a pretty fair hit rate and it’s currently climbing.  The site with the test results on it had quite a bit more. Right now, UV-Killer seems to be a very hot search keyword.  Either that’s you, or there are a growing number of people interested in our conversation.

    The shaman

    BTW: This thread is getting quite old (9/22/2008). I suggest that we move to a more recent post in this weblog for future comments:


    It will probably get better readership that way.

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