Approaching Buffalo


Alfred Jacob Miller (January 2, 1810 – June 26, 1874) was an American painter and sketcher best known for his paintings depicting the northwestern United States. His 1837 painting  titled  “Approaching Buffalo” depicts a Native American buffalo hunt.

“The hunters form for themselves a peculiar kind of a cap; it has two ears with a flap reaching to the shoulders. This is worn with a double object in view, one of which is to deceive the Buffalo in approaching – under such guise, the hunter is mistaken by the animal for a wolf, and is suffered to approach quite near. The mass of hair covering the forehead of the Buffalo obscures his sight and aids the trapper in his deception. In the sketch, a couple of Bulls are lying down near the swell of a rolling prairie. A trapper (in company with an Indian) is stealthily creeping along the rise – as the arrows of the latter make no noise, he is privileged to shoot first, the Trapper reserving his fire until the animals regain their feet, when he instantly ‘draws a bead,’ using his ramrod to steady his rifle. This mode of hunting is used only under certain circumstances; running being the favorite method, from its affording more excitement.”

A.J. Miller, extracted from The West of Alfred Jacob Miller (1837)

Learn more about the work of artist Alfred Jacob Miller. 

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