BLAZE ORANGE – Whitetail Deer Hunting in Wisconsin
Dark silhouettes of hunters walk deep into the land; a piece of property only accessible off the muddiest and grittiest of back roads. Their rifles are loaded as they stalk what everyone in blaze orange is after- the story of the biggest and most allusive buck, the hero, and layers of ghosts that surround the tales of the hunt. The culture and ritual of deer camp is a setting of nostalgia, the ramshackle of a cabin is a sacred temple of woodcrafts, trust, sweat, and secrets. Images of blood soaked cement floors, dead deer lying motionless on the ground, in the bed of a pick-up or hanging from “buck poles” in the camp yard offer testimony to the bountiful landscape that generation to generation proudly pass down through topographical maps with hand drawn symbols and markings.
Author and Photographer, Travis Dewitz, is a true visual storyteller as he defines moments of distilled beauty through storied images in his stunning book, Blaze Orange. Through the eyes of his illustrative lens he depicts traditions that are rooted in memories as he feeds the imagination and allows deer hunting to be an integral part of your soul and feel alive. “Working on this project brought back all the feelings I remembered from my own hunting trips—smelling the pines as a sharp cool wind would push against my face. I tried to show these emotions through my photographs. I was on the hunt again that season, carrying a camera instead of a gun, searching for hunters instead of whitetail deer.”
Blaze Orange captures the heart of deer camp through our eyes as Dewitz depicts various aspects of the nine day gun season through photography; told in the most unique ways of storied images. An illustrator that brings fleeting memories to life; as if you can smell the stench of bleach that fills the room after the gutting of a deer, feel the fathers love as he hands over the reins to his children, and hear the heralding stories that fill in the local taverns as blaze orange envelopes the chairs and bar stools. Blaze orange is the face of Wisconsin’s hunting heritage that is steeped in a rich tradition connected to the whitetail gun hunting season. The Wisconsin whitetail gun season takes place in November around Thanksgiving. During the season, orange silhouettes can be seen in the early morning hours moving slowly across cut fields and into the trees of thick Wisconsin woods. Travis Dewitz leaves us with a sense of adventure that is ignited by the beautiful allure of the curious Wisconsin wilderness that is draped in blaze orange for what dreams are made of.
“TRAVIS DEWITZ PRESENTS THE DEER HUNT IN A WAY THAT IS UNVARNISHED AND YET POETIC, GRACEFUL, AND SUBTLE. PAGE BY PAGE, BLAZE ORANGE MAKES YOU PART OF THE WISCONSIN DEER SEASON, FROM THE HUNT ITSELF TO THE MANY PEOPLE AND BUSINESSES THAT DEPEND ON AND PROVIDE SUPPORT TO HUNTERS. THESE IMAGES TRANSPORT YOU TO THE SNOW-COVERED WOODS, AND THEY LET YOU SEE THE SOFT LIGHT OF A NOVEMBER SUNRISE, IMAGINE THE SMELLS AND SOUNDS OF THE LOCAL BARS, AND CONSIDER THE CRAFTSMANSHIP OF A CUSTOM KNIFE MAKER.” – JEFF DAVIS, EDITOR OF WHITETAILS UNLIMITED MAGAZINE
Blaze Orange is a photographic coffee table book full of timeless images of the Whitetail Deer gun hunting season in Wisconsin. Wisconsin deer hunting is all about family. Families raise their children safely into the sport of hunting which is filled with traditions. Wisconsin’s Whitetail Deer gun season is 9 days long and requires hunters to wear Blaze Orange for safety. The season in closely monitored by the Wisconsin DNR. The DNR expects more than 600,000 hunters, about 10% of the state’s population, to take to the Wisconsin woods and fields next weekend. Wisconsin deer hunting runs deep with heritage for many Wisconsinites as the deer season here has an almost cult like following.