<< Previous  Next>>

Height of the Destruction

Many Indians and whites considered buffalo tongues to be a great delicacy; western soldiers craved them. In 1870, General John Pope, new commander of the Department of the Missouri, wrote to his old West Point chum, Lieutenant Colonel Richard I. Dodge, in command at Fort Dodge, requesting twelve dozen buffalo tongues. Dodge quickly obliged by detailing a sergeant and a squad of marksmen to scour the Kansas plains for the shaggy beasts. In three days they returned with a wagon filled with more tongues than were ordered. To kill over 144 buffalo, animals that could weigh over 2000 pounds each, solely for their tongues, which weighed an average of two pounds apiece, was perfectly justifiable to those frontier soldiers who believed the herds were expendable.

Richard Henry Pratt, Battlefield and Classroom: Four Decades with the American Indian,
1867-1904 (New Haven, 1964), 63.


Buffalo hunter’s home, Sheridan, Kansas Memory Date: 1870
This is a photograph of a buffalo hunter’s home on the Kansas Pacific Railway, Sheridan, Kansas. It is part of Benecke’s series “On The Kansas Pacific Railway.”

Buffalo Hunters Home Sheridan KS
Kansas Memory


The Atchison Daily Champion
Atchison, Kansas Jan. 4, 1870

It is reported that large herds of buffalo can be found in two days travel from Waterville, and we understand that several of our “sharp-shooter” sportsmen are preparing to make a raid on the shaggy bisons.


The Osage County Chronicle
January 8, 1870

Frank Root’s paper says it is reported that a large herd of buffalo can be found in two day’s travel from Waterville, and understands that several Waterville sportsmen are preparing to make a raid on the shaggy bison.

Kansas Feb 4th 1870

The Atchison Dailt Champion-Kansas Feb 4 1870 Leather Ad

The Leavenworth Times- Cincinnati Buffalo Hunters Apr 12 1870

The party of Cincinnati buffalo hunters are coming out in palace cars. We may expect to hear of seas of bison blood all the way from Hays City to Sheridan, which section of country has been selected for the sanguinary campaign. It is really a pity to kill all the buffalo. there ought to be a game law protecting them against Eastern marauders,  who are deadly shots in a herd of the innocent creatures. They never kill less that six or eight at a shot. And coming in palace cars. That’s too much. 


The Daily Phoenix- Columbia, S.C.  Apr. 13, 1870

The Daily Phoenix Columbia SC Buffalo Tongues Apr 13 1870

The Atchison Champion
Atchison, Kansas May 14, 1870

We saw a man coming to town on Friday evening that went out into the country on Wednesday. He went away feeling blithe and gay. He was arrayed in a light spring suit, straw hat, and all. He came back a wilted man, with a wilted hat, a borrowed shawl about his ears, a borrowed buffalo robe wrapped around him, and a borrowed pair of gloves encasing his hands! He was dejected and very sad. He concluded that the weather was a fraud, gotten up for purposes of deception. Moral- never go out in Kansas, in spring or fall, without taking with you an overcoat, a buffalo robe, a pair of gloves, a linen coat, and umbrella, and a fan. The weather is very uncertain, and a man ought to go prepared for all of its changes.

The Indianapolis News
May 21, 1870

Natural History for Boys – The Buffalo.

The buffaloes live on the plains, and they die there, too, as a general thing. They didn’t always live on the plains. They once lived in a city which they built with their own earnings at the foot of Lake Erie and which they called it Buffalo. But David Gray and Jo Larnard came there and drove them away, the whole drove of them, and now they are compelled to roam. No one would Rome, or even Utica, unless he was compelled to.
The Buffalo is fond of plain food which accounts for his being on the plain so much. He is migratory in his habits, usually traveling in a herd. On a clear day he can be heard traveling a great distance. His principal industry is the manufacturer of buffalo robes, of which business he enjoys a monopoly subject only to the revenue collector and the Constitution of the United States. He’ll occasionally embarks in the show business, and is led around the rain with the ring and his nose; and as he strout’s and bellows (as those some of nature’s journeymen had made them well,) he sends everybody away with the ring in the ear. It is an opera buffa-low enough for anyone.
The Buffalo isn’t a good thing to pasture. Put him into a pasture and he will pasture in every other pasture rather than the pasture you want him to pasture in. When Dr. Kerr’s menagerie got reduced down to one comparatively mild and inoffensive buffalo he put that buffalo out to board with a farmer in the country, stipulating that he should have all the advantages of a home, as he had been reared tenderly. The buffalo would break into the neighbors lots, and the doctor had to stand a lawsuit with every farmer for miles around. He says it wouldn’t have cost him anymore to pasture an entire herd than it did that one buffalo. They tried everything to stop is breaking out, but even the Renovator, which cures almost every other breaking out, wouldn’t cure that. The Doctor becoming exasperated, at length sold him to a side-showman, and he is now traveling around the country running a “case” when he might have lived in luxuries ease if only he had behaved himself. But the buffaloes don’t know when they are well off any more than other folks.
People used to hunt the buffalo in the vicinity of Cincinnati. They hunted the buffalo for the last time about twenty years ago, just across the river. Mr. Wood, of Wood’s Theater, did the wood-work for that hunt. He imported, at great expense, a buffalo from the plains just west of Lawrenceburg. He was the venerable buffalo – the first white buffalo we believe born south of Marietta. He had voted for all the Presidents from Washington down, and remembered when the Ohio was only a little creek.
Although heavy in years, he was very light in flesh, and so weak that Col. Wood had to carry him into the ring in his arms. He was paralyzed in all his legs, and had fourteen different kinds of rheumatism. The hunters, several hundred in number, some mounted and some on foot, and all armed to the teeth with bows and arrows, tomahawks, scalping knives and Winchester repeating rifles, were drawn up one side of the ring and impatient for the hunt to begin.
But the buffalo refused to budge. He was deaf alike to entreaty or remonstrance. Col. Wood kicked him with a pair of heavy solid boots until he was out of breath, then jabbed him with a pitchfork, and burned him with the red-hot poker. The buffalo seem to take a melancholy pleasure in the latter practice; it reminded him of the burning of the Buffalo by the British, and occurrence which he distinctly remembered. They worried the life out of the old fellow where he lay, and it was the judgment of the Coroner’s jury that sat on his body that the treatment he received to make a Queen City holiday shortened his days and detracted considerably from his nights. It is a remarkable fact that although some 30,000 Cincinnatians participated in that famous hunt, not one of them can now be found. How soon we are forgotten when we are dead.


Bison led by nose ring.

Bison being led by nose ring
Buffalo Indian Chief cir 1870


The Holt County Sentinel
Oregon, Missouri May 27, 1870


By the Author of “Adventures in Texas.”

Whoever would now hunt the bison, or buffalo, as he is always named upon the plains, must seek him far west of the Mississippi. Formally, the buffalo is said to have wandered over nearly all North America, though it is probable that the Atlantic States were too heavily timbered to be a favorite range with these prairie-loving animals. During the short northern summer they have occasionally been seen as far north as the Great Slave Lake; but as soon as the first chill of the terrible northern winter approaches they take the hint, and migrate for more genial latitudes, sometimes going as far south as Cohahuilla; but their favorite winter range has always been the ever-sunny prairies of North-western Texas.

Before the introduction of the horse, the Indians were obliged to stalk the buffalo, and shoot it with their arrows, or else “stampede” the herd, and drive it over the bluff bank of some precipice, where they tumbled down pell-mell to the bottom of the canon, when the red men came up, and, vulcher-like, gorged themselves upon the flesh as long as it remained good. Since the introduction of the horse, however, the prairie tribes are all mounted, and the “drive” has given place to the “run;” nor could a fairer field be found for this sport than are those seas of grass upon which the buffalo is found.

Sometimes the prairie-hunter finds himself upon a flat prairie, where he can command a view for ten or fifteen miles in any direction from the center of the circle he occupies; at another time, when upon a “rolling” prairie, he cannot see further than a mile or two, and it is necessary to spend some time upon it ore he can conceive its extent.

When first seen, the buffalo presents a very strange appearance, the smooth hind-quarters reminding you of the familiar farm yard cattle, whilst the great shoulder-hump, the shaggy fore-quarters, and the savage beards and manes upon the bulls give them a ferocious as well as comical look.

Their motions are not less singular than their appearance. With their tail stuck up right on end, and shaking their shaggy manes, they rush off with the roll in their gallop which is apt to deceive the spectator as to the real pace they are going at, whilst the earth shakes as they thunder over it.

In running buffalo the white man uses generally a smooth-bore, as the bullets, which may be carried in the mouth, can be dropped down upon the powder without its being necessary to use a ramrod, the moisture on the bullet causing the powder to adhere to it, which is quite sufficient to hold the bullet in its place for the moment or two it is required, as during the run the gun is carried muzzle and air, and is only thrown down against the animal the moment it is discharged. Of late years, Colts heavy six-shooters have been much used, as the cylinder, when emptied of its charges, can be instantly replaced by a loaded one.

Among the Indians the bow is almost universally used; for, although some possess fire-arms, they are not so expert in their use as they are with their ancient weapons. The Indian bow is a short weapon, rarely been more than 30 inches in length; so that they can readily use it on horseback. The bow is generally made of cedar or bois d’ arc, and these are stiffened and strengthened by having sinews glued to the back the entire length; the strings are twisted sinews, generally deer’s; and the arrows are as various as the owners, some been made of dog-wood, others of cane, etc., whilst all are tipped with flint or iron. Thus armed, and Indian warrior will drive his arrow close through the largest bison bull where a bullet from a rifle would have flattened ere it had gone half the distance.

The rifle, the deadly weapon of the backwoodsman when pursuing deer, bear, or turkeys in the woods, is comparatively worthless in a buffalo run; it consumes too much time in loading; the tightly-patched bulls requires too much force to send it home; and, during that time so occupied, one Indian would discharge half a dozen arrows, and a hunter armed with a Colt would fire as many shots. Unwieldy as the buffalo appears, he is, nevertheless, very quick in his motions, and very shy and wary; if the sees or scents a human being, he takes to sudden and rapid flight.

In the Indian warrior and his steed, when stripped for a buffalo run, would form a subject for an a list. A single feather floats from the chivalrous scalp-lock, his quiver of arrows is slung across his back, and his powerful, clastic bow is in hand; all else is naked to the waist-belt; below, his legs are encased in their fringed leggings, the fringes being the scalp-lock of his slain foes. His fiery wild horse, with gleaming eyes peeping through a mane that hangs in heavy masses over his broad forehead and floats and long waves from ears to shoulder, paws the ground impatiently, and arches his neck as he scents the game he is about to pursue. Then let the warrior spring to the back of his steed and dash off – wild horses and wild rider-and you see a representation of the living centaur, a mass of moving health and life that no painter could hope to transfer to his canvas.

Imagine, then, instead of one warrior, a hundred, all stripped ready for the run, all well mounted on their trained buffalo horses, all dashing and eager rivalry upon the brown masses of the buffalo, who, wild with tear at the yells of their pursuers, are flying over the prairie, whilst, with inflated nostrils, distended eyes, and swelling muscles, the tawny warriors thunder in the rear, each stride of their mustangs bringing them upon better terms with their victims, as each selects his game, and, placing his arrow on the string, bends the stout bow till its extremities almost meet. Then, losing the arrow, he sends it through hide and muscle, flesh and fat, till the huge animal, stumbling on a few paces, curls up his tail in the air, and falling on his knees, dies. A long quavering shout tells of success and the “brave” urges on his fleet little horse after another. If proper skill has been exhibited, each arrow has brought a huge carcass down, while some peculiarity in the make or staining of the shaft, points out whose hand twanged the bow. After the run is over, the arrows are handed to their owners by the squaws, who follow to do the work of butchery; and, if more than one arrow has been used, or if any has been carried off by wounded animals, the unskillful hunter is taunted and laugh at by the squaws, and he is glad to hide himself until, upon some happier occasion, he shall have retrieved his character as a hunter.

The squaws, I am said, follow the hunter; theirs is to the task to skin, to select the choice pieces for immediate consumption, and to dry and preserve that which is not at once devoured. At the feast which follows the savage gluts himself with the choicest parts of the game, and his time is spent in wasteful indulgence and tell all his provisions are expended, when the scene is repeated; for animal life is abundant on the prairies, and a brisk gallop supplies his necessities.

It was in Northern Texas, where the whole year round is one continued spring, so delightful is the climate, but I had my first run at buffalo. Without our guide, an old frontiersman, we numbered six in our party, and we rode gayly forward over the prairie in search of our mighty game. We had not far to go, and had not left our camp where we had passed the night to miles behind us, when we discovered a herd of buffalo feeding in the distance.

Mound of Bison Skulls
Mound of Bison Skulls to be Ground for Fertilizer

The blood, which with anticipation had coursed quickly through our veins, now at the sight seemed to boil, and our first impulse was to charge headlong at the herd. Our guide, who had killed buffalo ever since he could recollect, prevented this fall he by pointing out to us that to charge at the distance we were, and with the wind, would only blow our horses for nothing; and we soon felt the force of what he said. Circling round the herd, then, so as to avoid giving them are wind, we approach them on one side until we were about half a mile distant, when the word was given to charge, and off we went at the top speed of our horses, and we got within four hundred yards ere we were detected.

For one instant they seemed undecided as to our character; the next, after giving a loud snort, they dashed off at their best pace; and our horses, which were all buffalo-runners, if some of their writers were not, increase their speed, and seemed to fully as anxious as their masters to overhaul the flying game. With their absurd little tails, absurd when compared with the animals size, cock straight up in the air, and running close together, the buffalo held their course, whilst we, thundering after, endeavored to single out a beast, range along side, and then empty our gun into its side, behind or through the shoulder.

Repeated cracks of our fire-arms were heard in various directions, and, except in the line of our guide, who had bro’t down two animals, nothing was to be seen effected by our burning powder. Having got a bullet about half driven home, which at full gallop I was unable to force farther, whilst pulling up would only have thrown me out of the run altogether, I contented myself by watching the prowess of the guide, who at each discharge of his rifle sent down a buffalo in a cloud of dust upon the plain.

At last even he had had enough, and pulled up his now almost blown horse, when we did the same, and then I managed to finish loading my rifle. The guide gave me a satisfied chuckle as he looked back at the dark masses which marked his line in the run, and which had so lately been full of life, and health and power, whilst I felt very small at my want of success.

Gazing after the retreating herd, I noticed a large bull stop. It had been either wounded by my comrades, or perhaps I had given it the fatal ball. At any rate, I determined to give it the coup de grace, and, writing up, took a steady aim at the centre of its forehead. The ball flattened upon the matted mass of hair on the stout skull bone. Only a novice would have done us aimed at the head. In an instant the fierce beast was down upon me full charge, and, had not my good little horse nimbly swerved aside, the rush would have cost us both dearly. Loading again, and taught by experience, I tried a more vulnerable part, and this time with success. Upon receiving this shot the bull fell heavily forward, a quiver or two shook the huge frame, then all was still, in the wild Lord of the prairie was dead.

It was not a satisfactory hunt as far as I was individually concerned; but I took comfort from the thought that all things must have a beginning, even buffalo hunting.

I may add, for the sake of those readers who justly disapproved of the wanton destruction even of wild animals, but in my case the experience was not the pleasure of the sportsman, but it was for part of the early training for the life of a professional hunter, which I followed for some years in Texas.


Circus Ad May 31 1870

Circus Ad May 31 1870


The Atchison Daily Champion
Atchison, Kansas Jun. 3 1870


The chiefs, warriors, and head men of Red Cloud’s band, arrived in Washington, on Wednesday morning, fatigued with their long trip. They have been very quiet, and have not made their appearance away from their quarters. Spotted Tail and party had a talk with Commissioner Parker on Wednesday. They want to be removed to White Earth Reservation, and to be allowed the privileges of spreading out and hunting buffalo, and have stock sent among them. General Parker expressed the President’s desire for peace, but explained to them the power of the Government and its ability to protect its people. The Indians persist that they have no other desire than to be at peace with the whites. There will be a grand council in a few days.



The Atchison Daily Champion
Atchison, Kansas Jun. 12, 1870

Holton, Kansas


Holton town site was pre-empted by the Holton Town Association in 1859, at which time there were but seven buildings erected on the town site. The improvements of Holton at that early day consisted of one store, one blacksmith shop, and five dwellings, around which the sullen and winds swept and whistled from across the wild and unsettled prairie, rendering Holton a desolate and dreary place. What made the place doubly desolate, was the unwelcome visits from the coyotes, which came from their daily haunts as soon as the darkness had shut out the light of the heavens. Then the wild whoop of the red man could frequently be distinctly heard, and the footprints of the great herds of buffalo was often visible. Now Holton is the largest town within a scope of forty miles, and has a population of about seven hundred inhabitants. Through the kindness of T. J. Adamson I was shown the remnants of an old for on the town site, once occupied by Jim Lane. Mr. Adamson also showed me the spot where the Bogus laws in the Lecompton Constitution are barried.





The Evening Gazette,
Aug 6 1870

“Hitched to a Wagon”

Years ago, when the old Sussex Agricultural Society was “in all its glory.“ A huge buffalo made his appearance upon the track, much to the surprise and admiration of all beholders. He had been recently captured on the Western Plains, and shipped per order to Port Jervis, Orange county, N. Y., where his owner awaited him. It chanced to be in the languid days of August, when the sun beats down with peculiar fervor, ahke to the discomfort of man or beast, and when cattle take to the thickets to enjoy the shade, sheep to the rocks and ploughed fields, routing their noses in the ground to avoid the gad-fly and maggot, horses to the hills, to sniff the cool breeze and escape the annoyance of stinging wood-fly, and oxen, put out their tongues and loll from excessive heat. This was the condition of affairs when the old bison from the Western Plains, after a tedious and wearisome journey by railroad, set out at Port Jervis to make a journey to Newton. Had the weather been moderately cool, or the old bull in good condition to travel, the trip would have been a matter of but little consequence.
As might be expected, about mid-day, after making about half the journey over the Blue Ridge, the old fellow took himself to the near shade along the cool mountain-side, on the Colville turnpike, and there, despite the pricking and goading of his attendants, he began to chew his cud, quietly awaiting the setting of the “glorious orb of day.” Thus matters stood, when a country farmer made his appearance coming up the amount with a strong wagon and a sturdy span of horses. A bargain at once struck between the farmer and the showman, the farmer agreed to lead the Buffalo across the mountain to the Colville tavern for one dollar in hand paid. The bison was accordingly hitched to the hind axletree of the wagon, and the farmer touched up his team and proceeded to move off. The Buffalo finding himself jerked in a most unceremonious manner, gave a short grunt, and with head down and tail erect, he made a savage plunge at the unfortunate vehicle, and the next moment the farmer found himself sitting in the detached wagon-box at the wayside, while his team, with the furious buffalo attached to the hind axletree of his wagon, were making their way, like a streak of chain lightning over the Blue Ridge. First, the buffalo slowed the team and wagon, and alternately the team slowed the buffalo; first one had the advantage and then the other; the Buffalo more and more enraged at his rough usage, pursued the horses, running at the top of their speed until in the wildest affright at the dreaded apparition all were lost to human site in the dust and the mist which enveloped the Blue Ridge. In this way the race was Up for five miles, or until the whole establishment brought up in front of the Colville hotel, to the great dismay of unwary travelers. By this time but little difficulty was experienced in securing the animals; all been pretty well exhausted. What damage was sustained by the team were never learned, but the bison was pretty well done for, and died a few weeks after word at ‘Hoppaugh’s stables, Newton.



The Daily Milwaukee News
Aug 13, 1870

Buffalo races have been telegraphed to all parts of the country lately, and it would interesting to know which of the bisons won.


Wyandotte Gazette
Kansas City, Kansas Sep. 22, 1870

A Trip to the Mountains.


Ellsworth, was passed in the gray of the morning, and by the time we were fairly awake, we were on the veritable Plains, which are receding farther away each day, but we were approaching Hays City, the initial point for all buffalo expeditions, and we cheerfully field our ears with dust in our eyes with cinders, in the hope of being the first to espy the great American bison unwarily disporting himself upon his or her native plains within gunshot, but the vision is denied us, in spite of the numerous fresh “signs” of their vicinity, in the shape of a million and one wallows, where they spin themselves around for amusement, instead of going to the sea-shore. The buffalo range is judiciously kept beyond our range, and the very first intimation we really have of being beyond the pale of civilization is, our inability to decide between buffalo and antelope, at the hotel at Ellis, with our knees under the hospitable table presided over by our mutual friend Mr. J. H. Edwards, giving us a pleasant anticipation of our future journeying which are to be continued.




The Daily Kansas Tribune 
Last Hunt of Season Oct 18 1870

Ryan’s excursion to bufflodom and Denver leaves Kansas City and this city to-morrow. As it is the last excursion of the season, it will be well for all who may have a desire to secure a bison trophy to engage s passage without delay.’ The tickets rate as follows: Kansas City to Park’s Fort (buffalo grounds) and return, $25 – to Denver, $45; Lawrence to Park’ Fort, $22 to: Denver, $42; from other points west of this city, at the same rates.


The Atchison Daily Champion
Atchison, Kansas Oct. 21, 1870

Arrival at Denver.

Ho! For the Mountains.

(Special dispatch to the champion and press)

Denver, Colorado, Oct. 20.

The Excursion party arrived here this morning, after a very pleasant trip. The weather is beautiful. We saw a number of herds of antelope and buffalo on the road. We were most cordially received by the people here. To-morrow we go to Golden City, in the mountains, and may also visit Georgetown and Central City. The party are all delighted with the trip. The ride over the Plains was a most interesting one, though I think it would lose its attraction if made a second time, as the scenery is very monotonous. We expect to see some grand scenery to-morrow among the mountains.




The Daily Kansas Tribune
Oct. 23, 1870

Denver, Col., Oct. 20, 1870


The game, in shape of bison, is pretty well banished. Only three small herds of buffalo were seen, and they were so far away that they might as well have been Texas steers for all the site of them amounted to. In one instance a solitary old veteran bull stood within a hundred yards of the track, but he was smart enough to get into a deep ravine and hence was not to be seen more than a few seconds. Antelope were quite plentiful, several fine large herds been seen within a half-mile of the train. The blades in the smoking car kept up a constant fusillade at them whenever we seen, with old muskets, warranted to carry a hundred yards, no matter whether half a mile or five miles off. Sometimes antelope could hear the report, it half a dozen guns were fired together when they would run. At other times they stood still, at which the boys would fire vigorously as long as insight, and then speculate as to the number of wounded. Some few small herds of deer were also seen about twenty miles east of Denver. Privately, we are of the opinion that the grand game era is over, and in a dozen years at best the noble bison in his confreres, the elk antelope and deer, will be seen no more on these plains. But will not do to linger too long on the plains.



San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco, California Oct. 23, 1870

Sport on the Western Plains – Buffaloes for the Million

A correspondent of the Boston Post has been on a buffalo hunt on the Plains, in company with General Custer and others. We extract a part of his narrative: In the early afternoon we come to the outpost of the herd, and separate in parties of two or three for the hunt. Miles away they are seen dotting the landscape in detached groups of a few individuals, each specs upon the Plains. We “lope” after them, and this


Is by no means the least inspiriting part of the sport. There is no easy riding after buffalo. Clumsy as the huge beast appears, he gets over the ground with strange rapidity, and the horseman who delays for ease or safety will find himself behind his quarry. Spur along the level ground with a keen eye for the treacherous boroughs of the prairie dogs, one stumble and which will send you and your horse outside the chase. – Down the ravines and surge up the opposite side, for the buffalo stops not for any such irregularities of ground, and would be too well pleased that you should. Jump the ”wallows” and do not pause at hill or declivity, but on over the great, limitless stretch of plain, dotted with patches of the prickly pear in bloom, and furrowed by deep gulches. Jack rabbits gallop away with their long ears erect as you fly by; the Memphites Americana whisks his bushy tail out of your way and you pass him odorless. The horse feels the excitement, and will carry you close to the side of


If you have the nerve to keep him to his work and save him from the quick horns of the game when it turns at bay. It is a long chase, but a sure chase and the six-shooter in your belt holds the life of a buffalo. In cooler moments it would seem a sin to close such a glorious, life-giving ride with slaughter; but when you see the bison turned upon a careless hunter, and lift your horse and rider from the ground on the point of his vicious horns, tossing them up as you would toss your baby in your arms, then comes a thirst for blood. How many balls a buffalo will carry off I do not know, but the amount of lead left with these carcasses on the Solomon will be likely to deceive some prospecting party into the belief that a mine of Galena is somewhere about. Only one buffalo did I see killed by the first shot.


Planted one of those huge Springfield bullets just back of the shoulder, and after three steps the mass of need and hair stumbled forward – dead. The hunt spread over miles of the plains. In one ravine our Indian scouts had driven an old bull, and were killing him after their own fashion. Riding around and around the lumbering monster, dexterously keeping their ponies out of the reach of his furious charges, they wheeled and shrieking circles, brandishing their rifles and yelling taunts in classic Kaw at their victim. They delivered their fire at full gallop not ceasing their yells or their shots until the bull sank from his feet to his knees, and from his knees to his side. So expert had practice made them that while one instant the animal was glaring at his pursuers from the bank of the ravine, the next the fatal shot was fired and hardly had his shoulders touch the ground before his throat was stripped of its shaggy covering, and his tongue, a choice tid bit, cut out by the sharp knives of the dusky hunters. In another part of the field General Custer’s dogs had corralled


Driving him to the water for refuge, and there he stood, calmly lowering his head now and then and tossing two or three of his annoyers up on the bank. Our Cabinet member was on hand with his Springfield, and when the bull charged up the bank at his human antagonist, he is said to have ahead of the horses. However that may be, he at least survived to return and give the bull his death wound, and now carried this severed tail as a trophy of the sport on the banks of the Solomon. Four balls did that tough bison receive before he gave his caudal appendage to the administration. Across the River, on the sloping plains beyond the narrow belt of fringing trees, was


Just coming into sight as the sun warned us of returned to camp. The yellow ground was changed to black, and the animated covering spread for miles. It moved, and it seemed the very earth was breaking loose in traveling. How many thousand there were in that herd, I do not dare to guess, for it is impossible to compute. Meat for millions and robes for all creation seen trampling the ground before us, while as far as the eye could reach, black points, the stragglers of the herd, speckled the smoothed prairie. We turned our tired horses southward, and many were the


Who sought the softest seats in the ambulances, after that wild hunt across the plains. The days of buffalo and buffalo-hunting are even now numbered. The Indians mournfully speak of their cattle, and the railroad is surely driving them off. Not many years will elapse for our party will tell of that buffalo hunt with Custer, and speak of the American bison as an extinct animal.



The Daily KS Tribune Oct 29 1870 Buffalo Slaughter Sole Ad

The Daily KS Tribune Oct 29 1870 Buffalo Slaughter Sole ad



The Leavenworth Times
Leavenworth, Kansas Nov 13, 1870

Snapping the Twig.

{from Appleton’s Journal.}

One of the most beautifully illustrated incidents of the knowledge which the Indian acquires of the habits of the animals he pursues as game, is displayed in hunting the elk, by what is called “snapping the twig.” It is a “still hunt” throughout, and requires a degree of patience and skill to overcome the watchfulness and self preserving resources of the elk which is almost inconceivable. The elk, for self protection, as an offset against many physical disadvantages, is possessed of the keenest sent in the most exquisite hearing. It depends for safety more on a precautionary measures then on a aggressive defense or speed. To hunt the animal successfully when he is resting through the day, with every faculty wide-awake, is therefore a test of skill which the Indians, along the line reaching from Canada to the Pacific, justly feel is worthy of a warriors skill. The habits of the animal are taken advantage of, to find a trail made by him in going to his regular drinking place. This don, the Indian hunters, one armed with a rifle and the other with a dry twig, know that the elk is spending his daylight repose somewhere along this trail, which may be a half-mile in length. So acute is the hearing of the elk that these Indians have to approach this trail always from a right angle, with the greatest precaution, not even in their progress disturbing a leaf, or making the slightest sound by their footsteps. Come into the trail in this way, they examined the footprints, and no well-written document is more plain in its story to scholar than are these natural signs to the children of the forest. The fact is developed, for instance, that the elk is between the spot of the trail they have reached and the water it drinks. Moving cautiously away at right angles, they make an immense circuit round, until they reach another spot in the trail. The sign now is, that the elk lies between the first and last examined spot. Again the Indians patiently make another immense circuit, and strike the trail again-this time near enough to make a gunshot calculation of the animals resting-place.

Approaching the trail the third, or possibly the sixth time, by this slow process, they are at last rewarded by distinguishing the elk’s an enormous antlers above the long grass and intervening brush. The Indian with his gun makes ready, and his companion snaps his dry twig a crossed his knee. The elk Springs upon his forelegs. The sound is not necessarily a suspicious one; it might have been made by another elk, or by a dried limb falling from a tree, and for an instant only he speculates; but this exceptional hesitation is fatal, for the hunter fires, and the noble animal falls dead in his track-a victire of the superior wiles of men.



The buffalo, or bison formally covered the “plains of the great West” in countless numbers. We say formally, because in a few years more, the railroad across the continent, and the attendant train of civilizing events, will confine the great American bison to narrower limits, and their constant destruction will make the spectacle of herds reaching from horizon to horizon an impossibility. There is something very grand in the appearance of these tremendous gatherings, these vast supplies of food, not only for the Indians, but for all the wild beast of the field, and the vultures in the air. Following the buffalo herd at a respectful distance, and ever ready to pounce upon a wounded animal, or upon the weak and inoffensive, is always to be seen the large white or Kiota wolf. It is one of the most rapacious and cruel of all the animals of prey, and is apparently the buffalo’s most dangerous enemy. While feeding the buffaloes keep the cows and young in the centre, and then, as pickets and skirmishers, have their strongest and most powerful bulls to “fight off” the ever surrounding enemies, among which, as we have already stated, is the Kiota wolf.

The Indians, who are great students of Nature, study for their individual benefit the habits of all the animals with which they come in contact. One of the favorite methods of entrapping the buffalo within reach of their deadly arrows, is to conceal their persons in the skin of the Kiota wolf. In this masquerade, they will make their appearance on the plains, and perfectly imitating the eccentric actions of the animal they represent, they will travel on their hands and knees for miles if necessary, so as to approach the herd and it’s fierce guardians without exciting suspicion, for the buffaloes are excellent judges of manners of the Kiota wolf, and the slightest variation from the original would defeat the Indians object. As a rule, the hunter is successful. It is a grand site to see the old veteran bisons standing on guard, jealously watching these disguised enemies, and rolling their eyes in undisguised wrath, and clawing up great clods of the prairie, in demonstrated anger. When the Indians, who act in concert, reach shooting distance, suddenly rising on their knees they seldom fail driving their arrows through and through the tough and well protected sides of their game, the herd now taken the alarm, and the Indians, dropping their disguise, managed to obtain one or more successful shots before the frightened animals beat their retreat from an enemy more terribly destructive than even the Kiota wolf.

This method is only pursued when buffalo are few in numbers, and wary from repeated hunts. Occasionally great herds will move toward a lodge, and then the Indians sleighs with the blood-thirstiness of the tiger. Possibly some stray animals may be surprised within the very site of the inmates of the village; on such occasions, the young warriors show their courage and fleetness by pursuing the animals on foot. This theme is spirited, and, if it could be transferred to canvas, we should have a naked Apollo, graceful in action, perfect in form, to contrast with a huge and terrible-looking game.



That Atchison Daily Champion
Atchison, Kansas Nov. 26, 1870

According to the Lawrence Tribune, since the return of the Kansas editors the buffalo are crossing the Kansas Pacific Railway track in countless thousands. At one time during the present week, they rub down the telegraph poles so as to prevent dispatches from being transmitted for about twenty-four hours. The bison have shown great wisdom in delaying their march in till after the editors return. They had doubtless heard something of the prowess of the knights of the pen, and kind of ammunition they use.