The Quiet Beauty of a Hunter’s Lair

The Photo Blog
March 16 2014 11:03 AM

The Quiet Beauty of a Hunter’s Lair

10_Columbus_WI
Columbus, Wis., 2013.

Jason Vaughn

When photographer Jason Vaughn moved to Wisconsin, he had little previous experience in the Midwest and had never gone hunting. So when he started noticing deer stands—structures hunters use to protect themselves from the elements and get a good vantage point for shooting—he was naturally curious. “It was pure visual interest. Once I found out what they were, I was intrigued,” Vaughn said. “I grew up only ever seeing one hunter ever in my area, and my mother was this crazy animal lady. I thought it would be interesting to get more information,” he said.

To complete what became his series, “Hide,” Vaughn started going on drives through the state looking for stands. Before photographing them, he'd find their owners to get permission to do so. Often, they'd tell him about the significance of their stands, which were often handmade and passed down from generation to generation. “Occasionally I found a few that were purchased straight from the store. Most of the permanent stands I saw were all pretty unique in the way they were built or their materials or their placement,” he said.

Vaughn didn’t photograph the interiors of the stands, instead choosing to capture the stands in the context of their environment. And although the stands are heavily populated during the hunting season, Vaughn decided to capture them in the off-season, when they were empty. “I’d seen other photographers do projects on hunting before, and they always included the kill and the gruesome aspects of it,” Vaughn said. “Ninety percent of hunting is sitting and standing quietly. I wanted to capture that element of it and not that other stuff.”

01_Endeavor_WI
Endeavor, Wis., 2013.

Jason Vaughn

02_Portage3_WI
Portage, Wis., 2013

Jason Vaughn

11_Cottage_Grove_WI
Cottage Grove, Wis., 2013.

Jason Vaughn

05_Portage2_WI
Portage, Wis., 2012.

Jason Vaughn

Advertisement

When Vaughn was still in the beginning stages of his project in 2011, he was diagnosed with leukemia. His work on the project was postponed, but while he was in treatment, he gained a new perspective on the themes of the work. “I started thinking a lot about what hunters told me about building these structures to pass on to their sons. I just started thinking about my son and my legacy and what I could leave to him,” he said.

In photographing the stands, Vaughn wanted to highlight an important part of a tradition that seems to be in decline due to an aging hunting population and a lack of interest from young people. Specifically, Vaughn was interested in the sense of community the stands foster. “It's a reason for people to get together and spend time together. They're sitting in the stands for hours a day with nothing to do except talk and connect,” he said.

12_Waupun2_WI
Waupun, Wis., 2013.

Jason Vaughn

08_Ladysmith_WI
Ladysmith, Wis., 2013.

Jason Vaughn

03_Forest_WI
Forest, Wis., 2013.

Jason Vaughn

09_Portage4_WI
Portage, Wis., 2013.

Jason Vaughn

04_Portage_WI
Portage, Wis., 2012.

Jason Vaughn

06_Two_Creeks_WI
Two Creeks, Wis., 2013.

Jason Vaughn

TODAY IN SLATE

War Stories

The Right Target

Why Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS may be more effective than people expect.

The One National Holiday Republicans Hope You Forget

It’s Legal for Obama to Bomb Syria Because He Says It Is

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

Should You Recline Your Seat? Two Economists Weigh In.

Doublex

It Is Very, Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Or, why it is very, very stupid to compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice.

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

Why Is This Mother in Prison for Helping Her Daughter Get an Abortion?

The Only Good Thing That Happened at Today’s Soul-Crushing U.N. Climate Talks

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 23 2014 6:06 PM Nothing to See Here The one national holiday Republicans want you to forget.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 23 2014 2:08 PM Home Depot’s Former Lead Security Engineer Had a Legacy of Sabotage
  Life
Outward
Sept. 23 2014 1:57 PM Would a Second Sarkozy Presidency End Marriage Equality in France?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 2:32 PM Politico Asks: Why Is Gabby Giffords So “Ruthless” on Gun Control?
  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Sept. 23 2014 3:04 PM Chicago Gabfest How to get your tickets before anyone else.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 4:45 PM Why Is Autumn the Only Season With Two Names?
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 5:36 PM This Climate Change Poem Moved World Leaders to Tears Today
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 23 2014 4:33 PM Who Deserves Those 4 Inches of Airplane Seat Space? An investigation into the economics of reclining.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.