Eanger Irving Couse was born in Saginaw, Michigan in 1866, and during his childhood he became familiar with the large Native American population which continued to flourish in the Saginaw area into the 1870s. From an early age Couse had wanted to become an artist, and he regularly visited the local settlements of the Chippewa and Ogibwa tribes to sketch the tepees and make figure studies of the Indians. His formal artistic training began at the Art Institute of Chicago, then continued at the National Academy of Design in New York. Finally, Couse spent four years studying under Adolphe Bouguereau at the Academie Julian in Paris, where he adopted the French Academic painting style, which would endure for the rest of his career.
While in Paris, Couse married a fellow student, Virginia Walker, whose family lived on a ranch in Washington, near the Oregon border. In 1891 the couple resumed to the Northwest and Couse gained access to the local Klikitat, Yakima and Umatilla tribes, and completed his first Indian paintings. Couse did not visit Taos until 1902, after he had met Joseph Henry Sharp, Ernest Blumenschein and Bert Phillips in Paris, and they had told him of the beauty of the New Mexico landscape and the Indian population who lived in the relatively undisturbed Pueblo culture there. Couse immediately took to Taos, and Patricia Janis Broder writes: "Taos was everything Couse had dreamed of. The Taos people and their routines of life at the Pueblo satisfied all of his artistic requirements and desires. He recognized that in the Pueblos of the Southwest he had found the ideal Indian subjects for his paintings" (Patricia Janis Broder, Taos: A Painter's Dream, Boston, Massachusetts, 1980, p. 149).
Couse spent every summer in Taos from 1902 until 1927, when he became a permanent resident. He was a prominent figure in the town and was elected the first president of the Taos Society of Artists in 1915. He established many close friendships within the local Indian population who became willing models for him. Patricia Janis Broder writes: "He was not interested in depicting the daily or ceremonial life of the Taos Indians but preferred to paint his models in traditional studio poses" (Broder, p. 141). However, he did paint a series of Indian subjects as hunters, in which the Indian is depicted in a traditional role, proving his skill as a hunter and living off the meat from the animals and birds of the forest. Images such as this provided Couse with a subject that spans both the traditional concept of the Indian as a hunter warrior and the peaceful, sympathetic characters who inhabit Couse's popular interior Indian subjects.