As another hunting season gets underway, a new trend is causing quite the stir in the brush: the color pink. Yes, pink.
Kevin Clements, an upland game hunter from the outskirts of Seattle, is ditching the traditional masculine orange for something a little more... let's say, eye-catching. Clements, a construction contractor by day and fashion-forward hunter by twilight, is all set to strut through the high desert in bright pink, hunting chukar partridges with both style and controversy, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Clements, ready to be the butt of the joke, admits, "My friends will absolutely give me a lot of crap. But they give me a lot of crap anyway" It appears that the ridicule is a small price to pay for this avant-garde pioneer in the hunting world.
"I hate blaze orange," he continued, rationalizing his choices. "I’m tired of wearing it. So that new pink vest is going on my list."
Washington joins a growing list of states where hunters can now swap their blaze orange for blaze pink, a move that has rattled the cages of traditionalists. Some proponents of pink swear by its visibility and safety benefits — not to mention it may woo more women into the sport. Yet, others see it as a the latest encroachment of woke bullshit into a traditionally masculine sport.
The pink debate has even reached the digital pages of NRAWomen.com, sparking what could be called a flamboyantly fierce debate between "never pink-ers," and those who say they'll never give up their orange hunting gear.
Clements, on his own quest for the perfect pink vest, has found an ally in Final Rise, a Utah-based company that’s breaking the mold by crafting technical upland vests for bird hunting in, you guessed it, blaze pink. Matt Davis, the founder of Final Rise, was initially hesitant to add a splash of pink to his line, fearing backlash from women hunters who might see it as patronizing. But, to his surprise, the pink gear has not only taken off but is also being snatched up by men who find the color more visible and less prone to fading than orange.
The science allegedly backs up the pink posse, with studies showing that blaze pink can be more visible than orange and may even be less detectable by deer — a win-win for fashion-conscious hunters looking to stay safe and undetected.
However, not everyone is convinced. Jeff Johnston, a hunter and outdoors writer, remains skeptical, quipping "Maybe I would wear pink if I was stalking flamingos," and predicted that when it comes to other hunters, "there’s no way that they’re going to switch to pink for the hell of it."
States wrestle with the topic. In 2021, a bill in the Minnesota legislature unsuccessfully sought to overturn a relatively new provision that allowed hunters to wear pink. Some said there were people who had trouble seeing pink and that the state should return to blaze orange only.
Proponents of pink fought back. “There’s been a long, long battle over blaze pink,” testified state Rep. Josh Heintzeman, who supported keeping it. He said he hadn’t heard of problems that warranted tossing pink. And what about hunters who had invested in pink clothing? -WSJ
Meanwhile, in the great state of Texas, hunter Greg Howdeshell fears that sporting pink could be more dangerous than facing the wildlife, half-joking that "I think I would get shot here in Texas if I get caught hunting in pink."
Legislators in states like Minnesota have grappled with the pink phenomenon, with some lawmakers pushing to revoke the allowance of pink for hunters. But the pink defenders, like Heintzeman, argue that this colorful battle is worth fighting for. He questions why the state would alienate hunters who have already invested in a pink wardrobe.
As the debate rages on, some hunters have had serendipitous encounters with pink. Joe Novak from Raleigh, N.C., donned his wife's pink vest by accident and bagged his limit of woodcocks in record time. It's been his lucky charm ever since, and size matters not when you're bringing home the bounty.
Firefighter and hunter Will Givens from Little Rock, Ak., takes a more practical stance, saying he'd wear any color that keeps him safe and ups his game — even if it's a "hot pink thong."
Then there's Ethan Pippitt from Pretty Prairie, Kan., who decided to make a statement by painting his shotgun pink. Initially met with raised eyebrows, he's now known as "the guy with the pink gun," and he wears it as a badge of honor, saying it's all part of his brand.
According to Pippitt, "At first they asked if I borrowed my wife’s gun or lost a bet."