Here, as in each of the versions of this composition, Miller shows the Indian hunter in a moment of arrested action. His arm is still raised, but the bow string has been released and the arrow has flown toward its target. According to Miller, elk were not a preferred game. Their flavor was not as good as bear, bison, antelope, or bighorn sheep. But if one were lucky enough to kill an elk, they provided a great deal of meat. Their hides could be made into strong and soft buckskin, and their horns yielded bows.
Like the watercolor for Walters (CR# 375B), this piece has all the hallmarks of Miller’s late style. There are strong color contrasts between the shadows and the light areas in the prairie grass. The horse’s mane and tail are rendered in strand after strand of thick hair, and likewise the hunter’s leggings are rich with fringe. Unlike earlier versions, where the elk are lightly sketched, the foreground elk has clearly drawn hooves and horns.
LL: AJMiller. LR on mat: No. 11./Shooting Elk
The artist; Alexander Brown, Liverpool, England, 1867; by descent to Mrs. J.B. Jardine, Chesterknowes, Scotland; present owner by gift