Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Painting during hunting season

Peter Breugel, Hunters in the Snow. from the Art Renewal Center.

Tonight I am going to answer a question that appeared in the comments. I was asked about painting during hunting season. Here in New England that generally means deer hunting. I don't worry much about the bird hunters. In this area November is deer season and occasionally some body gets shot. Here are a few things you can do to cut down the odds of its being you.
When I first moved to Maine in the late eighties, (I live in New Hampshire now) I was very cautious during deer season and I painted in the villages for the month of November. But as the years went by I grew tired of that, I painted out in the woods and fields all the time, and I wasn't happy to relinquish my painting sites for a month. As I grew bolder, year by year I moved further out into those woods and fields. Here is a bulleted list of tips for avoiding the indignity of getting shot, gutted and tagged.

  • Wear hunter orange. I have a truly unattractive stocking cap that I wear. That's a good place to wear your hunter orange. I have an orange sweatshirt made out some weird foam that I hang on my easel. If I wear the thing, the orange reflects from my chest into the painting and that causes me problems judging my color. It is just as good on the easel as it is on me.
  • Don't dress up as a deer. I have friends who have deer colored highway worker type suits they wear, then they hold a paper towel. That's asking for it. I can't help thinking about shooting them myself.
  • Paint on private land, on a farm where you know the owner, and hunters are likely to be refused permission to hunt while you are there.
  • Paint in a state or federal park where hunting is not allowed. You still need to wear some orange, but generally hunters don't break these rules as the penalties if they are caught hunting there are so draconian.
  • But here is my favorite and it works really well.

the hunters avoid you like the plague, they know there are no deer around that din. I have had a few of them come upon me in the woods and laugh at what I was doing when they figured out why.


Gregory Becker said...

That last one has to be foolproof. Good info

Mary Byrom said...

I was teaching a few weeks ago on private trust land and some bird hunters parked next to us then went out to hunt in the view we were painting. As they flushed up birds the birds flew towards us so they fired at them (us). I figured it was not a problem as it was bird shot and they were far enough away. Having them aim toward us and hearing the noise was a bit of a distraction while painting. I wear an orange vest but the blaze on your easel is perfect. (and the boom box is the best)

Mary Bullock said...

Great ideas Stape - I hope to try them out soon.

Robert J. Simone said...

Stape, do you think that boom box will ward off gators, water moccasins, snow birds and european tourists, too?

Todd Bonita said...

Hi Stape,

Just a note to thank you for your signature in assisting me get into the Rockport Art Association. They just had juries this week and all went well thanks in part to you. Wanted to say a thousand thank yous my good man.

Deborah Paris said...

Hi Scrape :)

Really enjoying these winter images. I had not looked at Hibbards in a long time. They remind me of the 5 winters I spent in upstate NY (many many years ago).

JB said...

I do not share the enthusiasm for all this outdoors in the scary woods in cold dark New England in winter stuff. Mr. Kearns paints a pretty picture of outdoor life in the northland, but I think a more realistic view is given in Alfred Hitchcock’s fine scary movie THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY. This is a fine movie full of horrible and scary things. And it is set in VERMONT!. And it has a scary ARTIST in it! And he makes his drawings or whatever OUTDOORS!!! Mr. Hitchcock was the scariest movie maker the entertainment industry produced in the pre-Steven King-pre Al Gore era. And Steven King is from there! He has been chronicling the goings on up there for decades but apparently no one is paying attention. If Mr. King called you and said he suddenly had need of a new painting buddy and would you please meet in him in the woodlot at dawn do you mean to tell me you would pack a lunch and set the alarm clock for 5 am.? If I was a movie reviewer, which I am not, I would say something like: Alfred Hitchcock’s THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY is a shocking and unflinching look at the New England the folks at LL Bean don’t want you to know about. It is DARK and TROUBLING. It has murder in it. It has serial grave robbery in it. It has spooky moonlit scenes and intimations of things so horrible they could only intimate them in the movies in those days! It has a vindictive small town sheriff. It has a creepy, rabbit-hunting, horny old sea captain. It has spinsterish spinsters and a free thinking young woman from the city. It has rabbit shooting and foliage in it! It has a boy, a mere boy of five or six or seven who has been so horribly wounded (in some unspeakable way we never find out about) that he spends the whole movie wandering dazed across the countryside fondling a dead rabbit! The scariest guy is the artist! He is the brains of the outfit and a coolly amoral and avant garde artist who enjoys frightening the local populace by draping all the produce stands in the neighborhood with his amoral avant garde artwork. It is really a great movie and IT DEPICTS LIFE AS IT IS LIVED IN NEW ENGLAND TODAY! Except it was made in 1955 but I’m sure things are even worse now. And IT WAS BASED ON ACTUAL OCCURRENCES, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out. Mr. Kearns may very well be right in all he says but I would urge all readers to do some INVESTIGATING for themselves before heading out up there. Get ahold of THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY and you will see what I am talking about. I am not an alarmist but I do suffer from nerves. I am merely sounding a note of caution. I have done all I can do. I am out of exclamation points. I will tell you one thing I know Mr. Kearns is right about. There is nothing I like better than a good hot mug of Moxie with my fish chowder. It is nerve food and brain food in one sitting.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I think it is.

Stapleton Kearns said...


Was any of them Dick Cheney?

Stapleton Kearns said...

You live in a good place to do that!

Stapleton Kearns said...

Nothing works on the tourists except recession and then you will begin to miss them. As for the water moccasins and gators I understand that they can actually be attracted by playing Gale Garnett, Pet Clark, Hannah Montana or Neil Diamond.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thank you and congratulations.

Stapleton Kearns said...

There are more in the archives of this blog.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I guess now I will have to go and find that movie.There is something in what you say about the dark mysterious side of New England. Many horror stories have been set here. Perhaps its because there is so much history and the sets are good. We produced Poe too.
I wonder where you are from, I checked your profile and it is blank, I am guessing Minneapolis.
Why would you have so much to say in the comments and so little to say on your profile, you are quick, and very witty, being anonymous seems so hostile in this open forum. Take the sheet off and say hello.

willek said...

Well, I have tried to be silent during the hunter fear portion of this discussion, but I have to say that anyone in the woods during deer season would be a damn fool to not ne wearing a blaze orange cap and a blaze orange vest. ( 200 Sq inches by Mass law) You can get a cheap little vest at Wall Mart for a couple of bucks. (No Pun Here). I would as Stape suggests, get one for the Easel as the legs can look like deer legs. It would still be unwise to be out in the woods during bird season without a similar orange rig up. But most bird shot wont hurt you after 60 or 70 yards or so. Us bird hunters are spraying shot all over each other all the time. Duck shot, now that is a different story, it is bigger and carries a lot further and can sting you, but it has to be steel and steel is lighter than the old lead shot and its energy plays out faster. Moreover you would have to be in a swamp or a swail or a pond or a lake to be in a duck hunter's path of fire, and it would be hard to set up your easel in that environment. Paper towels during deer season? I use all blue. I get them at Wal-Mart, too and they are the best to to use all the time. They are thick and hold lots of goo and feel like a very expensive t-shirt. Great product. The improtant thing is to get a hold of Slim and go out in the deep dark woods and paint. He will lose his fears after a while. Although I don't think that Neil welliver ever lost his. I have seen pictures of him out in the deep winter woods painting at his easel with a six shooter in a holster on his belt. THAT was impressive. Perhaps the biggest fear we should have in the woods is meeting up with another artist!

Stapleton Kearns said...

I met Neil Welliver out in the woods once, he was unarmed. Your advice is good and we will heed it. I believe the mysterious Slim may be a woman,a very clever woman..
I just watched the Trouble with Harry on line and enjoyed it tremendously. I am now going to call it a night. Good night Gregory,Mary 1, Mary 2, Simone, Todd, Deborah,and Slim.

George said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert J. Simone said...

Where would one find a boom box anyway in a vintage 80's store. Is there such a thing vintage 80's store?

Stapleton Kearns said...

My music machine holds an i-pod and is about the size of a brick, it holds enough music to charm miles of gators and snakeopods.It has enough volume to do the trick, although more would be nice.
Boomboxes are smaller but readily available in the big box stores.

Philip Koch said...

The Bruegel painting is one I've loved for years. It seems to have the whole world in it.