Found: Ready, Aim, Greetings from Crivitz, Wis.

Found: Greetings from CRIVITZ, WIS., "Ready, Aim -- but hold your fire. The deer is in the velvet and to shoot at one like him will make you a violator. Be a true sportsman an shoot only at legal game. That way we'll all have more legal game to shoot at." Vactionland Scene copyright The L. L. Cook Co.. Milwaukee, "A Genuine Kodachrome Reproduction," 1954.

Found: Silver Street at Night, Hurley, Wis., all rights reserved the L.L. Cook Co. Milwaukee. Written on back in ballpoint pen "Dear Nel: It looks better at night. Ken" posted marked Hurley, WI, May 1, 1956 5PM
On opening day of "gun hunting season" in Wisconsin, men in pickups wearing blaze orange fill the the roads heading north they populate typically tranquil rural side roads. Weeks before the season, Fleet Farm displays show off blaze orange fashions, scent elimination sprays, and products like Buck Bomb Doe-in-Estrus Aersol Fogger and Code Blue Whitetail Doe Urine. The press operators at the local printing plant used to get so distracted preparing for the hunt that we found it imperative to avoid scheduling runs in around the season. Hunter friends describe the sublime symbiosis with nature experienced while sitting for hours in a tree-stand pondering the landscape awaiting the perfect buck.  Fresh air and meditation counter the complexities of 21st century hunting -- the Chronic Wasting Disease some believed would wipe out Wisconsin's deer herd and high-tech gizmos like Stealth Cam Rogue Digital Video Scouting Cameras and GPS. The "Ready Aim" postcard illustrates the uninformed photographer's naive misunderstanding of the issues. A summertime Kodachrome portrays a hunter taking aim at a buck "in velvet" (note: didactic postcard caption above). The legendary night time post-hunt activities include tales of strippers around Manitowoc heading up north with the hunters to dance at the Boom Bay Bar in Rhinelander or on the strip in Hurley a/k/a  Sin City (note: density of bars in postcard above).  These days, liquor stores hang "welcome hunter" banners while meat market parking lots are bumper to bumper with pickups waiting to drop off their  wild game for processing.


  1. Nato14:04

    I wonder if numbers of hunters are increasing or decreasing and how the demographics have changed if at all.

  2. I will never forget the stories my brother told me one night sitting at a campfire deep in the Rocky Mountain backcountry. I was trying to understand his motivations for deer hunting - I have never done it. He told me that deer hunting was way more than shooting an animal; in fact, he describes it more like a mystical experience tripping on psychedelics in foreign place. He told me about getting lost in the woods for hours...walking in circles until he swore he had past the "same" tree a dozen times. Getting so disoriented and terrified that he sat and cried...thinking he'd never get out. He described how he felt when he shot his first buck. He talked about how hours of sitting in shear silence, waiting for this deer to walk through played tricks on his mind - he thought he heard and saw things that never existed. He discussed the intensity of his heart rate and the significant adrenaline rush he felt when he pulled back his arrow to kill this first deer. He said that the world went black the moment he released the arrow. He said he felt the most indescribable/existential feelings he had ever experienced. He realized that the sound of that arrow entering the animal...meant that he had actually killed something significant. He said he felt empty, yet alive in the strangest way. I could never explain it like he did...it gives me goose bumps just thinking about the night he told me this. I have never had any one/single significant influence on my art-making than his deer hunting testimonials. Life is relational and I can experience his deer hunting without ever firing a single shot.

  3. Anyone who has driven down Silver Street in the past few decades knows that the lights still glare at night but not like they did in the 50's, when the region was booming because of the mining and lumber industries. My first home away from home (college) was a brick house built by Italian settlers in the mid 1800's, which they called the "Capistrano Inn." The place happened to be right across the street from the "Silver Dollar" gentleman's club right in the heart of the bar strip on Silver Street. Over the course of that one year of living there, I witnessed both humorous and scary events. I have seen big tough biker guys come out of those bars at mid-day so drunk that they tipped their bikes right over onto the pavement just trying to kick start their motorcycles. I have also seen fist fights, knifes pulled and heard plenty of gun shots. I think it snowed over 300 inches that winter. The snowmobiling tourism was great economically for the area and specifically for the night clubs but it also provided a lot of late night entertainment for me and my friends. The rougher and tough elements of the local crowd didn't always see eye to eye with the tourists at 2am in the morning. After the sun goes down, Silver Street isn't for the light of heart.

  4. We do not want to gloss over the complexity of human experience in these places or with long held traditions. These stories affirm why. Thank you Tony.