Last Light in the Northeast Kingdom
- Honorable Mention, 1992 Golden Light Book Awards sponsored by the Maine Photographic Workshops.
144 pp., 10 x 10 in,
- Published: August 3, 1992
- Publisher: The MIT Press
Neither advocacy nor indictment of deer hunting, Deer Camp documents the rituals and traditions of hunting season in Vermont's fabled Northeast Kingdom, a landscape increasingly threatened by development and changing social values. John Miller's text and photographs capture the culture of hunting and its place in country life. The cabins, the hunters and their families, and hunting artifacts and memorabilia are evocatively chronicled. The sixty black-and-white photographs record with unsentimental honesty the multigenerational ritual of deer camp, showing the camps themselves (ranging from converted school buses with stovepipes sticking out the roofs to comfortable second homes in the woods), the pickups and jalopies, hand-drawn maps and hand-carved furniture, polished snowshoes, inlaid rifles, smoking camp stoves, and snowy woodpiles.Miller's text details - among much else - the methodology of the hunt, woods lore and recipes, and the basics of camp life and ritual. Especially moving are the oral histories he includes along with the narrative which reveal the complicated richness of the hunter's world: its hardness, its camaraderie, its passion, and its underlying respect and reverence for the woods and the deer. Copublished with the Vermont Folklife Center
These are powerful photographs. John Miller has the extraordinary eye that sees behind what is there. We get the feel of place, of the hunt, of the extended rural clan, of generations. The realities are instant coffee, 4WD trucks, ubiquitous logging roads and throngs of hunters with two-way radios, yet these camps strike us as remote and simple. The complexities work out in the text. There is a connection between meat and death.
E. Annie Proulx, author of Postcards and Hearts Songs
These are the finest photographs of hunters and the wild and remote places where they hunt that I have ever seen...In the end these splendid photgraphs record not hunters and their quarry at all, but men and women an animals and the special place where they all live together...Mr. Miller's book is a remarkable artistic achievement as well as an important historical document. We should treasure it, and him.
Howard Frank Mosher
Mr. Miller shows us that hunting is much more than shooting animals for fun. The ostensible subject of this book is hunting culture in Vermont. The actual subject is male nature, human nature. John Miller tells a human story, both a primal story in a contemporary setting and, at the same time, a contemporary story in a primal setting.
Alex Harris, Professor of the Practice of Public Policy Studies, Center for Documentary Studies, Duke University
Miller's photographs are superbly penetrating of the world they portray, documenting its hardness, its camraderie, its passion, its ritual and its underlying respect and reverence for the victim and the woods. As images the photographs are both revealing and poignant; they are starkly honest, edged with sentiment, but without sentimentality.
William H. Jordy, Henry Ledyard Goddard University Professor of Art Emeritus, Brown University
A splendid book, documenting and evoking the deer hunt at a level of awe and high seriousness befitting the subject.
Alan Jabbour, American Folklife Center, The Library of Congress
John Miller's photography impresses me very deeply, both on a visceral level and an intellectual one. I get an instantaneous feel for what the northern Vermont deer hunting culture is. The pairing of text and image is marvelous, just the sort of interdisciplinary venture we need more of in the realm of the humanities.
Thomas L. Altherr, Professor of History/American Studies, Metropolitan State College of Denver