When ExurbaniteArtist Austin Briggs landed in Boise en route to join an elk hunt he wore hisbest London suit. A Chevalier du Tastevin, Briggs gamely gulped Thunderbirdwine and coffee that resembled a roily river, struggled up and down mountainsand finally made it back with these moody, incisive paintings
"Waking up atdawn on the first leg of the hunt," Briggs said, "is like waking up atthe bottom of a surrealist's fur-lined teacup. The firred mountains rise allabout the flat bottom, and when the sun fills the cup it is as though the teais draining away." After a few days it was no longer a cup of tea, andArtist Briggs had little feeling for simile. Riding a horse for the first timein 20 years, in pursuit of hunters pursuing elk (below) he was bucked off at aspot thereafter known as Briggs Flats.
One morning,following a spell of bad weather that kept them near camp fishing for steelheadand repairing their boat, the hunters set out into the mountains under a redsky portending snow. Briggs depicts what ensued on the following pages. Beyondthe snow line they killed their elk and caped, or skinned, them. "The elks'last, dying plunges were clearly marked," Briggs said. "They had fallenover several logs in a strange, dignified pattern as though still insisting ontheir majesty." That evening the hunters grouped around the fire and talkedof women and Khrushchev, neither of whom they could figure out. The elk wereless trouble. Reduced to meat and antlers, they went down the mountain onmuleback.