Deer Ear Color, Again!

Submitted by Lianne on 10/13/99. ( )

Controversy fuels the quest for knowledge! I just went out to the deer pen and examined the ears of several deer of different ages and genders. In the summer, with the shorter hair all these animals have fleshy inner ear color. I heard one person describe the basic color as the color of the end of your thumb (if you are Caucasian). Now that most of them have thicker fall hair in their ears, they are a very pale. There is not "one" color in a single ear, ladies and gents. The color ranges from very pale inner to smoky at the lobe. The color itself varies depending on the time of the year, where and how much sunlight falls on the ear, exertion, individual spots and markings, etc. Look at LIVE deer and draw conclusions from your impressions.
P.S. I want to say that I appreciate George R.'s practical suggestions that benifit those of us for whom speed and efficiency (along with quality) are becoming more of a priority.

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Great imput...

This response submitted by Mike on 10/13/99. ( )


You have made a very important is called reference. Deer (or any animal), will vary from season to season, from individual to individual, with current weather conditions, and also will be governed by the attitude of the animal at that particular time (anxious, aggressive, relaxed etc.).

In deer, the ear is a radiator for the animal under "normal" circumstances. If the animal is heated, more blood flows to the ear, if cooler less blood will flow. More blood equals fleshier colored ears. With the density of arteries/veins, plus general ear thickness, a single ear will vary from point to point. Scarring, insect bites and bruising will also vary inner ear color of the blade.

The ear is semi-transparent, allowing light to also affect coloring. With all of this, one can perceive the amount of work it would take to produce a true and accurate coloring for the whitetail ear.

The general color references mentioned earlier are spoken in generalities, suitable for commercial work. The amount of inner ear hair gives an allusion to color, but does not actually govern the tissue color.

When you takes the time to do personal research on an animal, the amount of intrigue and knowledge gained is a tremendous asset to your work. It allows you to be more creative, but with greater accuracy.


May I add...

This response submitted by Bill on 10/14/99. ( )

...when I go out and study my TAME whitetails, I have to keep reminding myself that these deer are very content and easy going. When I return to my commercial studio, I try to accurately portray my customers wild whitetails, which get PLENTY of excersise! Mike, good point on the light coming thru the ears, I see lots of orange ears out in the field, but Im not quite ready to paint them that color! Most folks that know me know I prefer a slight pink to flesh tone in the ears, but I lighten it as I go further into the ear.In another month, these same ears will have more color as the exposed skin sees more sunlight, the same as the eyes and nose membranes. Yes, these exposed membranes freshen the same way as the summer coat of hair does...

Dead or Alive!

This response submitted by Dave Hammond on 10/14/99. ( )

I too have been caught up in this controversy, and have
come to my own conclusion. While it is true that most of the
capes I get and deer I see hanging in the freezers have a
milky white to blueish white color to them cant overlook
the one thing they have in common. THEY ARE DEAD! There is
no heart pumping the blood through these very thin membranes.
I would imagine that they drain quickly in the standard ass up head down
hang in the garage.
I'll go with the live reference any day, and stay light with my
pigments to make it realistic. I color my glue by the way, and
just let the color show through, then touch up with a little white-wash.
Thats my two cents anyway!

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