Governor Terry McAuliffe has signed HB1939 into law, adding "blaze pink" as an acceptable safety color for hunting.
For decades, Virginia hunters have been required to wear blaze orange clothing while in the field. This is a safety provision to make sure that hunters can spot one another. Large game animals like deer cannot see colors like blaze orange. You could be out in the woods wearing a clown suit and it wouldn’t make much of a difference to the animal.
Thanks to Governor McAuliffe's signature, Virginia will soon allow hunters to wear another safety color. Starting on July 1, Virginia will become the fifth state – joining Colorado, Louisiana, New York, and Wisconsin – to allow hunters to wear blaze pink as a safety color.
Delegate James E. Edmunds (R-Halifax) sponsored the legislation. “I have a 13-year-old daughter who absolutely loves [hunting], probably as much as I do,” he explained. “I think my daughter was intrigued by the thought of blaze pink. It may help the hunting industry. Maybe the attention it’s drawing will, perhaps, recruit more females to the sport.”
Here are the amendments that were just made to Virginia law (edits in bold, eliminated passages struck-through):
A. During any firearms deer season, except during the special season for hunting deer with a muzzle-loading rifle only, in counties and cities designated by the Board, every hunter and every person accompanying a hunter shall (i) wear a blaze orange or blaze pink hat, except that the bill or brim of the hat may be a color or design other than solid blaze orange or blaze pink, or blaze orange or blaze pink upper body clothing
, that is visible from 360 degrees or (ii) display at least 100 square inches of solid blaze orange or blaze pink material at shoulder level within body reach visible from 360 degrees.
B. During the special season for hunting deer with a muzzle-loading rifle only, in counties and cities designated by the Board, every muzzleloader deer hunter and every person accompanying a muzzleloader deer hunter shall (i) wear a blaze orange or blaze pink hat, except that the bill or brim of the hat may be a color or design other than solid blaze orange or blaze pink, or (ii) blaze orange or blaze pink upper body clothing , that is either of which shall be visible from 360 degrees, except when any unless such person is physically located in a tree stand or other stationary hunting location.
However, not every legislator was a fan of the change.
“I just have a hard time picturing dudes in blaze pink,” explained Senator Amanda F. Chase.
Senator Richard H. Black agreed, saying “the idea of hunters dressed in pink just strikes me as flat-out silly."
Senator R. Creigh Deeds went even further, claiming that adding blaze pink as a safety color is "condescending to women."
Aside from the silliness and condescension, there are also legitimate safety concerns about the new color. Blaze orange was chosen because it was the ideal color to balance the needs of hunters to stay hidden from game, but visible enough to prevent hunting accidents. To this date, there still has not been sufficient research to suggest that blaze pink will keep hunters as safe as blaze orange. Additionally, there is no definitive shade of pink that is proven to be the safest. Even the states that allow fluorescent or blaze pink disagree on how to define it.
Virginia hunters should always exercise their own best judgement in choosing hunting attire and fashionability should take a back seat to safety.
While it is nice that the Virginia legislature decided to accommodate female hunters who want more fashion choices, there needs to be significantly more research done to determine whether blaze pink is equally as safe as the traditional orange.
HB1939 passed the Virginia House 97-0 and made it through the Senate 35-5. The Governor signed it into law on March 13. It goes into effect starting July 1, 2017.