David Brown, a hunter who rode west with the American Fur Company troop in 1837, remarked that sighting a herd of antelope was welcome relief to the sometimes monotonous expanse of “immense plains.” (Brown, 10) Certainly, in this scene, Miller suggests that the spirits of some fellow hunters were excited and animated by such a sight.
Miller suggests that these hunters are hoping for a moment of faulty judgment on the part of the antelope that could easily escape such an attack. “It is perfectly useless to run them…, as their speed far outstrips the fleetest horse.” It is the antelope in the front of the herd that are vulnerable. As Miller explained, while the majority of the herd retreats, “a few remain gazing in stupid curiosity at the approaching hunters.” (Ross, 89) There is thus a chance that one or more may make for a good supper that night.
Peter H. Hassrick