1878-Flooded With Buffalo Hides
The New Bloomfield Times Pa. Cheap Robe Jan 1 1878
Brenham Weekly Banner
January 4th 1878
1878 We learn from the San Saba News some interesting particulars regarding the wholesale slaughter of the bison (buffalo) on the plains. It is estimated that at least two thousand persons are now encamped on Texas soil for the sole purpose of slaughtering the bison. These men have reduced the hunt to a system, and are as thoroughly organized as a well drilled army. The plan is to surround the whole buffalo range, which is done by sending out parties hundreds of miles from the settlements and completely encircle their prey, thus cutting off the retreat. Regular hunters supply stores have been established at convenient localities. The hunt is kept up during the entire year. The hides are sent to market – some of the meat is cured and sold, though the principal part is thrown away. The number killed annually amounts to hundreds of thousands. There should be some legislation to prevent this wholesale slaughter and waste.
Dodge City KS Jan 19 1878 Buffalo Meat n Mules
The Atlanta Constitution Jan 25 1878 Texas Buffalo Hunt
Fort Wayne Daily Gazette Feb 4 1878 Noble Game
Juniata Sentinel and Republican
Miffintown, Pa. Feb 27, 1878
Originally, the elk inhabited the entire breadth of the continent, both East and West of the Rocky Mountains, and from Mexico to Labrador. It seemed to prefer wooded regions to the open prairies, and though less easily driven off than the buffalo, yet is steadily gave away before the advance of civilization, retiring into the mountains and deep forest, or immigrating to regions beyond the tracks of the hunters. They long ago disappeared from all the older parts of the United States, incense about 1820, they have not been seen south of Lake Erie in Michigan. Some may get linger in Texas and Arkansas, and along the southern and western sides of Lake superior. They have nearly all disappeared from California, and only a few remain in Oregon. That they are to be found in considerable numbers in the Black Hills country, and in Washington territory, British Columbia and Alaska. In Labrador, and in some parts of Eastern British America, they are still found in large numbers, but almost everywhere, like the bison in the Indians, they are evidently a doomed and departing race
The Abbeville Press Mar 6 1878 Englands Bone Caves
The Weekly Star
Mar 7 1878
The old bison who has so long been an inmate of the park has a history. Some years ago a dispatch was received by Mr. Conklin that a “buffalo” had been seen in lower Canada, having evidently wandered from the far west, and that if some one was sent to assist in its capture it would be presented to New York, Mr. Conklin started in person, and after a few weeks of genuine hunting they discovered the wanderer, and he was successfully lassoed by Mr. Conklin. He would not be led, and at the last the huge creature was thrown to the ground and tied and dragged upon us sled to the nearest railway and rapidly wheeled to his present quarters.
In and about his cage a family of chickens have taken up their abode, and the roosting – place is a large beam about 15 feet above the floor and far out beyond the reach of the ordinary hen. The bison is therefore used as a ladder. The rooster generally starts first, and after three or four scrambling attempts obtains a foothold upon the back of his big friend; the hens soon follow, and five or six are at last upon his back throwing out their wings and legs in desperate endeavors to keep time to his ungainly movements. This curious scene often last an hour before all the chickens reached the roost.
The Opelousas Courier LA. White Buffalo Mar 23 1878
Manitoba Free Press
April 8, 1878
THE BUFFALO PRESERVATION LAW
The ordinances passed at the first legislative session of the Council of the Northwest Territories, under the “North-West Territories Act, 1877, “ having been laid before Parliament in accordance with the requirements of the statute, we have now to hand the text of the law for the preservation of the buffalo which went into force on 1st June last. The particulars we have already published were strictly accurate, but of the excellent provisions contained in the first, fifth, and sixth clauses we were not till now aware. It will be seen that the Indians are not debarred from killing buffalo to satisfy their immediate wants, even during the close season for cows, which close season, so far as the Indians are concerned, commences three months later than for other persons. Under these circumstances we can but believe that the tribes will gratefully accept and support a law so obviously constructed in their own interest, if they only have its nature and object fully explained to them. The matter is of such importance to all persons dwelling in the North-West were visiting it, that we deem it wise to publish this full text of the ordinance, in order that there may be no excuses on the part of white men or half-breeds going west for infringing its provisions:
- No pound,., Or like enclosure or contrivance shall, at any time be formed or used in the North-West Territories for the capture of buffalo, nor shall it be lawful to destroy buffalo by running them into rivers or lakes, or over steep banks or precipices.
- It shall be unlawful at any season to hunt or kill Buffalo from the mere motive of amusement, or wanton destruction, or solely to secure their tongues, choice cuts, or peltries; and the proof in any case that less than one-half of the flesh of the buffalo has been used or removed shall be sufficient evidence of the violation of this section.
- It shall be unlawful to kill buffalo of either sex under two years of age, or to have the dead bodies or the peltries, or any other part of the bodies, of such young buffaloes in possession.
- On and after fifteenth of November, one thousand eight hundred and seventy-seven, and in every year thereafter, period between the fifteenth day of November in the fourteenth day of the following August, inclusive, shall be a close season for female buffalo: and during said season it shall be unlawful to kill such buffalo, or to have in possession the dead bodies, or the peltries, or any other part of the bodies of the female buffalo killed in the said close season:- Provided, that nothing contained in this section shall extend or apply to Indians or non-treaty Indians between the fifteenth day of November and the fourteenth day of the following February inclusive.
- Notwithstanding anything contained in this Ordinance, it shall be lawful for any traveler or other person in circumstance of pressing necessity to kill buffalo to satisfy his immediate wants.
- In order to convict any person of unlawfully killing buffalo, it shall be sufficient to prove that such persons was one of a party necessary to such killing: and taking the life of each and every buffalo unlawfully killed shall be deemed a distinct and separate offense.
- Every person convicted of an offense against any of the foregoing provisions of this Ordinance shall be liable for each and every offense to a fine not exceeding one hundred dollars, with cost of prosecution, and in default of payment to be imprisoned for a term not exceeding three months.
- When any offense is committed against this Ordinance, it shall be the duty of any sheriff, policeman, constable, sub-constable, or other peace officer, upon view their of or upon the information of any two persons, who shall declare their names and places of abode, to forthwith arrest such offender by the authority of this ordinance, and without further warrant to bring him before a judge, stipendiary magistrate, or justice of the peace, to be dealt with according to law.
- Every offense against any of the sections of this Ordinance may be presented in a summary manner before any judge, stipendiary magistrate, or justice of the peace.
- One-half of any pecuniary penalty recovered under this Ordinance shall be paid to the informer.
The True Northerner Paw Paw MI Apr 12 1878 Half Breed Buffalo
Dodge City KS Apr 13 1878 Prodigals Return
The Weekly Commonwealth Topeka KS Apr 25 1878
Chicago Daily Tribune Apr 26 1878 Man found dead with Buffalo Boots
Fort Wayne Daily Gazette May 3 1878 Buffalo to Sitting Bull
The Atlanta Constitution May 8 1878 Sitting Bulls Niece
The Valley Republican Kinsley KS May 11 1878 Buffalo Raid
Fort Scott Daily KS May 25 1878 Buffalo Mounts
Chicago Daily Tribune
May 31, 1878
Dr. B. T. McGillyeuddy, Indian Post-Surgeon, U.S.A., at Red Cloud Agency, D.T. arrived at the Palmer House last evening, accompanied by Mrs. McGillyeuddy. The gentleman states that everything was quiet at present among the Indians on the Missouri River, but that they were restless and dissatisfied. They want to be moved to the new reservation promised them by the President in Washington last year. If they are not removed, Dr. McGillyeuddy thinks that there will be another Indian war this summer, but that it will be further north. Sitting Bull now has a larger following than ever before. He has, besides his own bands, dissatisfied bucks from the Blackfeet, Assiniboines, Nez Perces, Crows, Sioux of various tribes, Crazy Horse’s band, and others giving him a force of probably 6,000 warriors. The arms captured at the Custer massacre by the Indians were never given up, and he thinks that Sitting Bull is also well supplied with ammunition. He thinks that he will begin to move south as soon as the buffalo go to the southern grazing grounds. The total mounted police force in the British possession only number three hundred men, divided into six battalions of fifty each. This force is too small to keep the Indians from crossing the border, and all they can do is to watch them- nothing more. If the Red Clouds are not moved soon, the doctor banks that some of them will go north in join Sitting Bull, unless they are dismounted.
The Emporia Ledger
June 13 1878
HUNTING WOLVES IN TEXAS
Gradual Extermination of the Prairie Wolf – Traps Baited with Strychnine –
It’s Habits – Running Down an old Buffalo Bull
(From the N.Y. Sun )
Forty years ago, when Raxton camped on the plains, and Washington Irving made his tour on the prairies, wolves were as plentiful as rabbits and considered more worthless. The trapper took nothing but beavers, killing only enough buffalo to keep him in meat. As the beaver disappeared, bison were shot for their hides, and the peltries of the wolves became valuable. They brought as much in market as a buffalo hide, and as they were smaller and lighter were packed from place to place with greater ease. The building of the Pacific Railroad drove the buffalo from the line of the Platte and Arkansas into Texas. Their range extended along the well watered streams in the northern and northwestern parts of the great State. The wolves followed the buffalo, and committed depredations upon the folds and herds of the cattle kings. But within the last ten years the trappers have cleaned them out, and the occupation of the professional wolf hunters is gone.
Mr. James Graham, and old Texan hunter and trapper, is now stopping at the Sturtevant House in this city. He gives some interesting particulars of life on the buffalo range. The professional wolf hunters, he says, gave up the business three years ago. Their great hunting grounds were watered by the Red River, the big Wichita, Brazos, Colorado, Concho, and Pecos. The highest grade of hides, technically termed “Southern fur,” brought $1.75 apiece. Skins taken north of the Arkansas were more valuable, because the fur was finer and thicker. The wolf pelts were classed as follows:
No.1 Fine Fur
No.2 Coarser Fur
No.3 Hair and Fur
No.4 More Hair than Fur
The price varied from $1.25 up, according to the quality. The animals were killed between 1 November in the middle of February. After that their coats became thinner and they began to shed their hair, so that the skins were worthless. Further North the season last much longer. The coyotes were hunted with the big gray wolf, but their hides, being much smaller, brought only $.75.
One Bell of Fort Griffin is credited with killing more wolves than anyone man on the plains of the Arkansas. In one season he poisoned over 500. From three to four good hunters used to club together in hunt this season through. They started out with a wagon well loaded with flour, bacon, sugar, salt, and coffee. An extra pony or two came handy to ride around, keep the baits in order, and bring in the hides. The trappers carried plenty of ammunition, and when using breech loading rifles, filled their own shells. As the Comanche were trouble- some, the rifles were loaded in the horses strictly guarded. At night they were hobbled in the brush near the camp, so that they could not go astray. If the “sign” was good, camp wish easily made in a secluded spot near a running stream, tributary to one of the large rivers. As the wolves followed the buffalo, and the buffalo cropped the juicy grass along the streams, the “sign” was always good in a wild and well watered section of country. By the “sign” -the tracks and half eaten dead buffalo – the trappers estimated the number of wolves, and prepared their baits. Buffalo, antelope, or deer, were killed in an open place, and strychnine placed in those portions of the carcass first torn by the wolves. But the trappers, as a rule, did not plant the poisoned before sunset, for the wolves of the air, the innumerable ravens that shadow the plains and feed upon dead animals, displaced the baits if the traps were set before they went to roost. The ground near the carcass was sometimes sprinkled with dead ravens. Small flocks staggered around the dead bulls under the influence of the poison, and gyrated through the air like tumbler pigeons.
The colder the weather, the more wolves. A nipping, frosty air seem to sharpen their appetites, and give them a keen scent. While Graham was on the Brazos, five winners ago, eight bison were killed on the side of the hill, and their bodies skinned and poisoned. During the night the wind veered to the north, and the weather became intensely cold. A storm of sleet made the campfire hiss, and the howls of the wolves ring above the ravine in which the hunters slept. With the first break of daylight they visited their baits, fearful that the ravens might tear the fur of the dead wolves and damage the hides. Within three hours they found the bodies of 56 large gray wolves frozen so hard that they dragged them into the ravine and thawed them out. All agreed that if the night had been mild the animals would have kept undercover.
A wolf begins to feel the effect of the poison within ten minutes. He stops eating. His ears and eyebrows twitched, and his limbs are cramped. Frequently he whirls around like a dancing dervish, sweeping the ground with his tail and throwing up the dirt with his fore paws. His comrades cocked their heads to one side and watch his spasms with curious eyes, but resumed their feast when the victim stiffens or starts for the scrub. Few of the poisoned animals died at the side of the poisoned buffalo. Old hunters assert that the strychnine produces a burning thirst, and the wolf makes for the nearest water. This keeps the band of trappers busy all morning. While two of them skin the wolves nearest the baits, the other mounts a Mustang and scours the chaparral and banks of the river in a further search for bodies. The ravens assist him, filling the air with wild cries, and fluttering over the gasping animals in the brush. Many of the wolves are not dead when discovered. They are scattered about in all stages of paralysis, and are put out of their misery by the hunter. Occasionally a dying wolf is found stretched on the sands of the river lapping the water, but he does not rush into the stream, and his body is never found floating upon its surface. Even in death he seems to have a horror for wedding his feet.
The only adepths at skinning are the professional hunters. The body is turned upon its back and work begins at the forequarters. The trapper grips a leg between his knees, opens up the hide to the brisket, and rips down to the tail. The tail is the most valuable part of the wolf. If injured, it spoils the beauty of the robe. It is therefore taken off with the greatest care. The skinner than plants his foot firmly upon the neck, and by main strength peals the hide up to the head. Here more care is required. The ears and nose are torn away with the skin, so that spread upon the prairie it presents a perfect picture. The hide is then folded flesh side in, thrown across the back of a pony and borne to camp. The fur is then turned to the grass and the skin stretched by pegs driven into the ground. It dries according to the weather. No salt is used. If the atmosphere is dry it is taken up within three days, and turned over and sunned until ready for market.
While the trapper is thus picking up the skins of the big gray wolf he does not neglect the coyote. This is much smaller than his gray brother. The latter is nearly as large as a Newfoundland dog; the former about twice the size of cat. The coyote fancies a campfire, and sits on hillocks with insight of its blaze barking for hours. The gray wolf bays the moon like a dog. Grand says he has seen them sitting on the highest rocks gazing at it’s bright orb with their heads thrown back uttering unearthly howls. This wolf scorns the coyote. When the large wolves drag down an old buffalo bull the coyotes huddled in the vicinity, licking their chops and barking, as though begging a share of the prey. Should they venture too near the big fellows utter ominous growls and the coyotes slink away, tails between their legs and heads turned over their shoulders. The coyote quickly determines the status of the hunter. If he finds him killing wolves he keeps a respectful distance; but if he is only hunting bear, antelope or buffalo, the little fellow becomes quite social. While a bear hunter was butchering game coyotes patiently watched his operations, and the gray wolf loped hungrily on an outer circle. The trapper through a piece of meat to the small fellows, who ran off and were waylaid by the big wolf. They dropped the meat and returned, but seem to learn nothing by experience, for they fed the robber as long as the hunter chucked them the meat.
Many coyotes pick up their supplies in the prairie-dog colonies. If one is lurking in the streets and sees a dog away from his hole, he steals upon him with the utmost secrecy, striving to cut off his retreat. As an old dog, however, is rarely caught napping. Some of the fraternity are sure to espy the wolf, and a warning bark since the dog into his hole with the tantalizing shake of the tail. The coyote despondently peers into the hole, rakes away the dirt with a paw, and sniffs at the lost meal. He gets his eye on another dog, and crawls toward the hole like a cat upon a mouse. The warning bark is again heard, and a second meal disappears. Infuriated by his disappointment, the wolf frequently turns upon the little sentry, and for a few seconds makes the sand fly from the entrance of his readiness. Worn out by his futile efforts, he flattens himself upon the sand behind the hole, and, motionless as a statue, watches it for hours. If the dog pops out his head he is gone. The wolf springs upon him, and jaws come together like a snap of the trap, and the helpless little canine is turned into a succulent supper. One Metley, a well-known buffalo hunter, was riding across a dog town some years ago when he saw what he supposed to be a dead coyote stretched out at one of the holes. He dismounted and lifted it by the tail, intending to take the body to camp and skin it. The coyote made a snap at his leg, wriggled from his grasp, and sped over the prairie more surprised than the trapper. He was in a sound sleep when caught. But the coyotes greatest harvest is in the spring of the year, when they fat themselves at the expense of inexperienced young dogs caught wandering from home. Whole families enjoying the cool evening breeze on the mounds above their burrows are taken unawares, and the tender young snapped up before their parents can force them under the ground.
The Indians say that the wolf has no home. He follows the buffalo, and is ever skirmishing on the edge of the herd. Indefatigable in the chase, he pursues his prey for days without sleep. He catches his naps in the sunlight, and does the bulk of his work at night. Like the Indian, whom he resembles in many characteristics, he never declines an invitation to dinner. A great glutton, he stuffs himself till his paunch is distended like a bladder, and in this condition is often run down and lassoed by the cow-boys on ordinary ponies. Some of the Southern tribes of Indians never slay a wolf. They have a superstition that when they die there spirits roamed the prairies in the guise of wolves.” Who says a wolf may slay his brother.” Is an Indian proverb.
Cruel and voracious, the gray wolf is an arrant coward. While on the Brazos in 1873, and camped above what is called “The Round Timbers,” Graham killed five buffalo for bait. He charge three with strychnine, and in the morning and found five dead wolves. Three great Eagles were perched upon the head and shoulders of an un-poisoned carcass, and two large gray wolves were tearing the hams. The eagles regarded the wolves with an evil eye. At intervals the most powerful bird strode over the carcass with outstretched wings and open beak. In an instant the wolves cringed to the ground, and slunk away with their heads over their shoulders like whipped curs. With the hair of their necks on end they furtively watched the lordly bird until he returned to his comrades. Then, with averted eyes, they sneaked back to the feast, and crunched and gnawed until there rapacity again excited the ire of the feathered nobleman at the head of the table.
A striking peculiarity of the Wolf is his habit of running with his head over his shoulders. Suddenly frightened, he rushes off like the wind, with his face turned back to the foe and his tail between his legs. “He ran like a scared wolf,” is a Texan’s estimate of the speed of a coward. No dog but thoroughbred grayhound can overtake him. It seems almost impossible for a wolf to look any thing in the face. He will hardly meet the stare of a grasshopper. Graham declares that when wolves have been paralyzed by strychnine he has held them by the ears, turned their faces around, and tried to force them to look into his eyes. Not for a second was he successful. They would look over his shoulders or turn their eyes in any direction, and even entirely close them before they would meet his gaze. A story is told of a Texas farmer who caught a coyote cub, and stared into its eyes until the cub died.
The report of a gun, and old times, never failed to put every wolf within hearing on the alert. He immediately began to look for dead buffalo, and generally managed to secure his share of the booty. In the spring, when the calves grand with the herds, and the droves were resting at noon, the big gray wolves organized for an attack. Woe betided the calf on the outskirts of the drove. The ferocious beast would cut it out in a rush, after stampeding the herd. If the calf was nearly full-grown they would ham-string it with their teeth, but if young and tender would terror out the throat before the dam could come to its defense. Frequently a lone wolf routed out an old bull, driven from the herd by younger and more active bulls. He caught him by the nose, and hung on until shaken off. The attack was kept up until the bull started on a run. The wolf kept in the rear until the old patriarch showed signs of fatigue, when he resumed the attack in front. The buffalo was not allowed to lag. If he fell into a walk he was again seized by the nose. When nearly exhausted the howls of the wolf drew other wolves from their lairs, and between them the old veteran was ham-strung and rendered helpless, and finally torn in pieces by the pack.
Gray is the common color of the wolves in Texas. Occasionally white ones are killed. Graham says that he killed eight in one winter with skins as white as the driven snow. The black Wolf is very scarce, and mostly found in the timber. His fur brings the highest price; but, during six years of trapping, Graham declares that he never saw one, and heard of not more than two or three shot on the Clear Fork of the Trinity by a party of Rangers.
The New Orleans Daily Democrat
New Orleans, Louisiana
June 1 1878
The night is waning, and the hush of inspiration make this thing them solemn. The news editor has just written himself a New York dispatch telling all about the sea serpent. The political editor is just closing a crusher full of blood and thunder, and winding up with a terrific exposure. The proof reader is opening with a new case of pencils for the purpose of making all the errors in six lines of proof. The funny man, from the fearful expression of his sorrowful countenance, is shown to be in the throes of a joke. The joke is born, and this is its name:
“A man died in Atchison, Kansas, last week from eating diseased buffalo meat. A clear case of suicide from cold bison.”
Enter the intelligent compositor. “This Atchinson item _ what is this last word?”
To him, the funny man: – B-i-s-o-n?
Funny man –“Yes.”
The intelligent compositor demands to be informed what it means, and the pains-taking funny man, with many tears, explains the joke, and with great elaboration shows forth how it is a play on “cold pisen.”
“Oh, yes.” says the intelligent compositor, and retires. Sets it up “cold poison.”
Funny man groans, takes the proof, seeks the intelligent compositor, and explains that he wishes not only to make a play on the word “pisen” but also on the word “bison.”
“And what is that?” asks the intelligent compositor.
The funny man patiently explains that it means “buffalo.”
“Oh, yes.” shouts the intelligent compositor,” now I understand.”
Mortified funny man retires, and goes home and tranquil confidence and growing fame.
Paper comes out in the morning, “cold buffalo.”
Tableau Red fire and slow curtain.
(FYI pisen is a variant of poison, with a frontier flare)
Chicago Daily Tribune Jun 21 1878 extract Starving Indians
Fort Scott Weekly KS Jul 4 1878 Aztecs
The Courier Journal Louisville KY Aug 8 1878 Bison Mixed With Cattle
Jamestown Weekly Alert ND Aug 15 1878 Wells Arrives
The NY Times Aug 26 1878 Buffalo Butter (extract)
The Cambridge City Tribune
Cambridge City, Indiana
Sep 12 1878
The Buffalo Disappearing
According to Mr. J.A. Allen, of the Government Printing Office, Washington, the American Bison is gradually becoming exterminated. It is now confined to the comparatively narrow limits within two distinct areas. The southern district is in Western Kansas, North-Western Texas, and the Indian Territory. The northern extends from the sources of the principal tributaries of the Yellowstone northward, into the British possessions. At the present rate of decrease, the bison can hardly outlive the present century. It was once maintained, on a prior grounds, that the bison was irreclaimable; it turns out, on the contrary, that it is equally domesticated, that it interbreeds freely with the domestic cow, that the half breds are fertile, and they readily amalgamate with the domestic cattle. A correspondent of the Turf Field, and Farm, reports the domestication of the buffalo in Nebraska. He began with two cows and a bull, which he kept with his tame stock. In spring the cows calved, and in three years the calves became mothers, yielding an average of 14 quarts of the richest milk _ally for an average of five months. The half and quarter-bred animals are found to be very hardy, but although the wild breed may be improved by the cross, it is doubtful if the converse will be the case, and we must confess that the “14 quarts of the richest milk” surprises us.
The Leavenworth Times KS Buffalo at Fair Sep 14 1878
Kansas Farmer Topeka KS Sep 18 1878 No Bison Seen
Chicago Daily Tribune October 4 1878
Steuben Republic Angola, Indiana Oct 8 1878 Extinction
The Inter Ocean Oct 26 1878
The Weekly Register Point Pleasant WV Nov 6 1878
Nov 9 1878
GOOD SHOOTING ALL THE TIME
From there I crossed over the range to Hot Sulfur Springs, lying just between Middle Park and North Park. In that region I passed most of my time, and especially around Whiteley Peak. The game was very abundant indeed. There was any qantity of elk; a few bears, and plenty of deer and mountain sheep. My chief trophy, however, was a mountain bison, which bears very little resemblance to the buffalo of the plains. The old chap was one of a large herd that we saw feed way up on the steep, but they were bad to get at. We were more fortunate with the bears, and killed a large number – one of them an immense fellow about as big as a grizzly. Of course they were all black bears – indeed, I doubt whether there is a genuine grizzly in the Rocky Mountains. Of the smaller game, we brought down scores upon scores of grouse, and the jack rabbits, sage hens, ptarmigan, etc., were just think. Chipmunks! The woods were full of them, and even our tents at night. Yes, I had quite a number of attendance along, but it wasn’t very often we had to camp out. We hardly needed a tent, though, as the climate was so delightful. What gun did I use? They were made for me specially by Holland, who made all the guns I used in India and Africa. Sharp’s weapon, I think, is first class also, and I had one or two of them along. I would like to have stayed there another four or five weeks, as I found the country perfectly charming, especially Estes Park, where I met Mr. Field, another of your citizens, and also the proprietor, Lord Dunraven, who could hardly have bought another such paradise. I shall try to go back there again some day. I found just before leaving some interference in the snow, which came very heavy where I was, along the Blue river, toward Breckinridge. By the way of a parting suggestion, I think the license that prevails there about the
WHOLESALE SLAUGHTER OF GAME should be checked. I think there is a law to that effect in Colorado, but it seems inoperative, and the destruction of game in such a scale as to threaten extinction is iniquitous. Lecturing myself? “No, hardly, as we were really very moderate. But even if I am included, I would emphatically repeat my caution. It would be too bad to have all the noble game go the way of the buffalo.”
“You have hunted in many other countries?” said the reporter.
“Yes, a little,” replied the huntsman. “Every year for the last five or six years I have been somewhere when I could get leave of absence. Yes that trip into Africa of 350 miles which you refer to was four years ago. We landed at Sonakia, on the Red Sea and cut across through Abyssinia and Soudan. Excepting for Baker’s expedition, it was a virgin country we traversed, as far as foreigners were concerned. But our company was everywhere treated kindly by the natives. We were a mere handful, though subsequently two others joined us, one of them Lord Ranfurley, who two years ago hunted in this country, killing a grizzly in California. We found Soudan one of the finest of game countries – such a variety. We were gone twenty days, and rode camels. No, we didn’t have to open any of them to get water. We weren’t so short as that, but had excellent living all the way. Among our trophies were an elephant one of a species of buffalo, a giraffe, liens, and any quantity of deer, and a rhinoceros. No, I can’t say we had any hair –breadth escapes; we were too good shots for that, you know. It was somewhat interesting, however, to see how one of the lions, a perfect whopper, suddenly changed his mind about attacking us. He keeled over.
Nov 10 1878
Three nine-yoke ox-wagons, piled with buffalo skins, from Fort Griffin, pass-through Jacksboro, for Fort Worth, says the Houston Telegram of the 6th. This is rather a circuitous route we should judge. The receipts of buffalo hides at Fort Worth has been immense during the last three years, numbering over 200,000 annually. One wagon attached to another and both drawn by one team may be seen almost any day during the winter, loaded with these skins. Well-organized companies are formed for the purpose of hunting these buffalo, and with long-range guns the destruction of these animals is very great. A great deal of meat is dried and brought to market, and is very tender and juicy, if not too dry, and if taken from a young buffalo. The solid flesh is cut from the loin and hindquarters, and the carcasses left to bleach upon the plains. When the buffaloes are killed at a distance from camp, they are skinned and the bodies left. It would be impossible to save one-fourth of the meat.
These animals known as the bison or buffalo, formerly ranged from the Arctic Ocean to the Mexican Gulf; following the fresh grass in their endless annual journey. They are now compelled to avoid the settlements which are springing up in the midst of their boundless pastures, and also to cross the Union Pacific, and other railroads extending to the Rocky Mountains.
They are retiring before the March of civilization, and are being sold rapidly killed off that in a few years there pastures will be occupied by cattle and horses.
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Nov 23, 1878
THE DOOM OF THE BUFFALO
Wiping out the Shaggy Monsters that Roam on the Plains – The Butchery in Northern Texas – An Englishman’s Experience – Killing the Bison For His Hide – The Life of a Professional Buffalo Hunter – Three Seasons on the Plains – How the Hides are Cured – Pickling the Tongues – Fearful Fate of a Horse Thief.
[New York Sun.]
Forty years ago the trappers of the Western plains sold the pelts of beavers, otters and _____ and killed the bison only for food. Myriads of these shaggy monsters roamed the prairies. Washington Irving, in his “Tour on the Prairies,” sought a herd boundless and undulating as an ocean, all surging northward. They were two days and nights in crossing the Smokey Hill River. There was then a limited market for buffalo hides, and the herds were hunted by the Indians only. They dried the meat for winter use, and use the skins for tepees and blankets. Uncounted millions of the animals wintered in the parks of the Rocky Mountains and on the fertile plains of northern Texas. The cows calved in April and by the 1st of May the shaggy _____ were headed for the Missouri. They advanced northward with the season, browsing upon the sprouting, juicy grasses. They crossed the Missouri River and ran away up into British America. With the approach of winter they swept back into the sunny parts of the Rocky Mountains and spread themselves over the plains of Texas.
The discovery of gold in California (1848) opened a pathway to the Pacific, and this pathway opened a permanent market for buffalo hides. The settlement and rapid development of Kansas and Nebraska forced the herds back toward the mountains. Then gold was found near Pikes Peak (1859), and a _______ of emigration poured into Colorado. Beaver, otter and furred animals began to disappear, and the brawny Kansas buffalo hunters took the place of the half bred Canadian trapper. Millions were killed for their hides alone. The vast herds began to scatter. 10 years later the laying of the Pacific Railroad’s force them from the line of the Platte and Arkansas into northern Texas on the south, and Wyoming and Dakota on the north. The professional hunters followed and for years reap a rich harvest. But the rush of gold seekers to the Black Hills in the settlements along the line of the Northwestern Pacific Road are driving the northern columns into British America, and the development of northern Texas is exterminating the southern columns. Experienced hunters predict that within eight years not a buffalo will be left in Texas.
Mr. James Graham, and English man who spent four years hunting them on the plains of Texas, graphically details his experience. He came to America when a boy, determined to work his way out to the plains and become, if possible, the chief of a tribe of Indians. His experience with the savages near Fort Still changed this intention, and he went down into Texas and began to teach school. “In October, 1873,” he says, “I hunted myself in Jacksboro, Jack County, northern Texas. It is near Fort Richardson. I was out of employment, and living from hand to mouth. One day a party of Cowboys road in from the other side of the Brazos , and said buffalo were coming in from the north so sick that they were eating up the range. The country was black with them, and the boys were compelled to drive in the cattle. This news was confirmed by a herder named Browning, who drove through town with 800 cattle, cursing and swearing, and roaring at his luck generally. There were no professional buffalo hunters in the country, although the buffalo were so thick that Browning allowed he could kill from fifty to seventy-five a day. He made a contract with one McKibben, a merchant, to deliver 1000 hides within three months at $2 a piece, the value to be taken out in trade. Browning swore that he would kill them all within fifty miles of Jacksboro. He turned his cattle hands out on horseback, and sent out his wagons. There was not an expert among them. They sailed into the herd head first, using no judgment, and in less than three days had scared the buffalo so that they left the range. The net result was twenty or thirty hides. Browning returned to Jacksboro and threw up his contract in disgust. He drove his cattle out on the abandoned range and resumed the life of a herder.
One Shaw owned two ox teams that had been employed in grading the railroad from Dallas to Fort Worth. Work had given out and the teams were idle. Two men, Hawes and Frantz, also owned yolks of oxen that were eating off their heads. They clubbed in with Shaw, and arranged for a buffalo hunt. I had had considerable experience on the plains, and was employed by Shaw as a killer. Hawes in Frantz killed for themselves. Two men, named Putter and Davis also joined us. A band of Comanches were raiding the frontier, and we combined for natural protection. Three months provisions, a keg of whiskey and several hundred rounds of ammunition were thrown into the wagons. Armed with needle guns, we left Jacksboro on a bright sunny morning, and traveled due West. The country was well wooded until we reached Fort Belknap, a deserted military post. We kept a sharp lookout for the Comanches; for, just before we left Jacksboro, a man was killed and scalped across the creek from town, not 300 yards from Fort Richardson.
“After leaving the timber, we camped in an open country, fifteen miles from Fort Belknap and two miles from the Rio Brazos. That evening an old buffalo bull straggled into camp. The trouble was not in killing, but in eating him. He was so old that is hide was worthless. His flesh was as tough as shoe leather. The old fellow had been driven from the herd by the younger bulls, and was forging on his own hook. Wolves were on his track, and would soon have run him down.
“About the middle of the second day we encamped on the Millers Creek, a branch of the Rio Brazos. The grazing was good. There were no ranches within thirty miles. We saw small bunches of buffalo among the low hills. It was a good sign. Herds of deer, flocks of turkeys, and schools of fish promised and ample variety of food. Potter, Davis and myself rode out six miles toward the Brozos, and found immense herds of buffalo. We stopped at Eagle Spring, the other side of the River. This spring gushes from the riverbank, making a small gully. It is nearly level with the River. At this time the river was very low. Half the sand bars were above water. The spring got its name from a great nest built in the top of a cottonwood tree by a colony of Eagles. These birds began to tear up the carcasses of deer and buffalo before we could skin them. I finally loaded a carcass with strychnine and poisoned the whole colony.
“The water of the Brazos at this point,” said Graham, “was brackish and unpalatable. It was made so by the junction of the Salt Fork of the river, a few miles above. No matter how dry the season, the spring never failed. The banks of the river near it were trodden down, and we could see that herds of buffalo were drinking there every night. We rode out on the divide between the Wichita and the Brazos and found a thick net of buffalo paths leading toward the spring. We made a permanent camp, pitching our tent on the river sands to the left of the gully, so close that we could hear the buffalo come in at night, but not so close as to disturb them. Then we cleaned out the spring. The water bubbled up with redoubled force, and dotted the sand of the River with fresh pools. Before we found the spring we had killed from fifteen to twenty buffalo. Word was sent back to Hawes, and his Skinners were quickly at work. We tried to induce him to come over to our camp, but he allowed that rolling stones gathered no moss, and he thought the buffalo were thick enough on Millers Creek to pay him.
“We spent the first day in making pegs for stretching hides, putting up the tent, and gathering buffalo chips and driftwood for fire. The banks of the river were fringed with bushes, but aside from the lone cottonwood, there was no standing timber. We dug a fireplace in the bank, and prepared for business. Are oxen were bellied and hobbled, and turned loose on the nutritious grasses of the river bottoms. We ate broiled venison for supper. After pipes and coffee we turned in. An hour after ward I heard a dashing and a splashing in the spring. A band of buffalo was pouring over the bank. I could hear their low murmur of satisfaction as they sucked up the freshwater. The bank was crumbling beneath their feet and falling to the sand. As we were camped to the leeward, the herd did not wind us. It was a cloudy night. I got up in my shirt tail, took my gun, and ran along the edge of the bank toward the spring. Dark masses of the animals were clustered on the white sands below me, drinking from the little pools of fresh water. They saw me, and scattered. Most of them scrambled up the path leading to the top of the bank, and others darted over the sands. As it was too dark to shoot with any degree of certainty. I returned to camp.
“The next morning, bright and early, we were at work. We found a herd feeding on the prairie within two miles of camp. I crawled on my hands and knees to leave word and began to pick them off. I shot several under the fore-shoulder, giving the ball a slight range forward. This is really the only infallibly vital spot. Greenhorns may riddle an old bull with bullets, and he will stand and shake his head as though bumblebees were buzzing around his ears, and never drop; but one bullet planted by a professional is worth more than a score sent from the gun of an amateur. Well, before noon we had killed twenty-seven . In the afternoon we skinned these and hauled the green hides to camp.
AMBUSHING THE HERDS
“Eagle Spring was our headquarters nearly two months. The country was ridged with sand hills covered with coarse grass affording a fair cover while crawling on the herds. Large bunches of the animals were ambushed. We hid ourselves under the banks of the river, and shot them down as they came for water. This was done so often that they became suspicious. They approached the bank, headed by an old bull, with the herd strung out behind him in Indian file. On reaching the edge of the bank, the bull looked carefully up and down the river to see if the coast was clear. If satisfied, he turned back to the file leaders, indicating that it was all right, and dashed over the bank. The file followed without hesitation. If, however, the bull’s suspicions were aroused, he gazed at the suspicious objects as though shouting his eyesight. Then he turned his head toward the herd, as though disliking the outlook. Satisfied, after another reconnaissance, that there were good grounds for alarm, he viciously whisked his tail. The herd understood the signal. There was an instant stampede. They scattered fan-like, stopping at a distance of two to three hundred yards. There they turned about, apparently to see if there was any cause for running at all, but invariably continued their retreat until miles away from the supposed danger.
“One day, “ continued Graham,” I was lying under the bank of the river when a herd of buffalo approached. Contrary to all precedent, they were led by frisky young calves, who broke over the bank without stopping to reconnoiter. Had I retained my original position; the whole bunch would have trampled over me. I lay in the long grass and saw what was coming. As I got to my feet this stream divided and swept to the right and left. Through the dust I saw an old cows head within 3 feet, and let her have it under the fore shoulder. The impetus with which she was moving was so great that she pitched dead upon the sands at the brink of the river, three rods away. A calf was the next victim. It screwed it’s tail as the bullet struck it and followed the cow to grass. I next blazed away at the ”spike” a three-year-old bull. The first shot was ineffectual. He ran up the River about 100 yards. I kept at his heels and brought him down with the second bullet. By this time the bunch was much scattered. Many animals crossed the river, and others ran down the stream and regained the bluffs below. It was after dark when the slain buffalo were skinned and the green pelts were staked to the ground.
AN INDIAN RAID
“At Eagle Springs, “ Graham said, “we took 475 hides. The killings, skinning, stretching and packing took up all our time. After the hides were sunned they were sometimes wet by rains. This gave us much trouble as to preserve them we were forced to overhaul and re-dry them. After December 20th Shaw, Welsh, Frantz and Potter loaded the wagons with dried hides and started for old Fort Belknap. The Fort was abandoned, but they meant to pile the skins in a ruined guardhouse, where was thought they would be safe and undercover. Davis and myself were left in camp with a horse and two mules.
“On the evening of the 23rd I killed a deer, taking the hide and hindquarters. The next day I saw the tracks of a wildcat around the carcass. I could see that he had enjoyed his meal. Than seen that he might return on the following evening I took cover and lay for him. Toward dusk I saw the cat snaking along the bank of the river, but, unfortunately, he discovered me at the same time and did not come within gunshot. On my return to camp I was spotted by four Indians, who were hidden by the low sand hills. At all events that night the horse and mules were unhobbled and stolen. The sands were covered with moccasin tracks. We trace them up and found where the Indians had lain behind the sand hills and watched my wildcat venture. Our tent open toward the river, and a wagon covered the entrance. This was fortunate, for had the situation been different the savages might have shot us while we lay in our blankets. We followed their trail to the Wichita, many miles away, but never recovered the stock.
THREE INFURIATED BULLS
“A funny incident occurred a few days before the mules were stolen. I had been out among the sand hills, and had planted seven bullets in an old bull. He was a tough old fellow, but was finally brought to his knees. I thought he would surely die, and wasted no more ammunition. On returning to camp I told Davis where he lay, and he and Welsh said that they would take his hide early in the morning. That night the wolves scented the old fellow’s blood, and made an assault on him. He fought like a tiger, and would have gone under had not two other bulls come to the rescue. All night long they kept the wolves at bay. In the morning Welsh and Davis went out to look for the wounded bull. I was going up the River, but pointed near where he lay, and told them they would find him in a little hollow near the sand hills. Welsh took his needle gun and went on foot, and Davis followed, mounted on a mule, taking a swingle, or whiffletree, to drag the green hide back to camp. On nearing the hollow Welsh saw the three buffalo lying down, and said to Davis: “why, he’s wounded three instead of one, and left us to finish them.” Davis stood up in his saddle, looked at them. “I don’t think he’s hurt any of them.” he said. “Johnny, just try ‘em.’ Welsh crept toward the trio. Two of the Bulls got to their feet, and stretched themselves. They gazed at him in astonishment, and began to paw the ground and shake their heads. Welsh dropped on one knee and blazed away. He probably miss them, for infuriated by the assaults of the wolves, they raised their tails, lowered their heads, and with bloodshot eyes charged upon him. He saw them coming in after a sharp raise went into a buffalo wallow like a prairie dog. The bull then went for Davis. He had scented danger, and headed the mule towards camp. The beast however, was fat and lazy, and did not seem to take in this situation. Davis pounded him with the whiffletree until the blows resounded over the prairie, but could get no head of steam. “Shoot at ‘em, Johnny !’ he shouted. “Shoot at ‘em, but Johnny lay in the wallow, shaking with merciment, and could not shoot. Seen that there was a slim chance for reaching camp, Davis headed his mule for a mesquite tree, fancy and he could find a shelter among its thorns. The slow lope of the mule brought the maddened bulls nearer. Davis finally jumped from the saddle and ran for the tree. He went up the trunk like a squirrel, and had barely perched himself on a top limb before the bulls dashed underneath in pursuit of the mule. Like Davis, the mule took good care of himself, and reached camp and safety.”
A POISONING MATCH
A few days afterward the party returned from Fort Belknap. They were chagrined at the loss of the mules. Only two horses were left. Shaw in Davis went back to Millers Creek and camped with Hawes. Potter, Welsh, Frantz and Graham went across to the big Wichita poisoning wolves, and met with moderate success. The country was seamed with canons and dotted with cedars. Winter was at hand and the weather was becoming cold. The most interesting incident was a poisoning match between Frantz and Graham. One day each killed the buffalo. A dispute arose concerning their merits as poisoners. Frantz held that if the strychnine was placed in a certain part of the carcass it would be more effectual. Graham disagreed with him. Each agreed to Dr. a carcass in his own way, and a pile of Wolf skins was staked on the result. Graham spread a small bottle of the poison upon those parts of the carcass first eaten by wolves, and Frantz carried out his peculiar theory. Both traps were well faded. In the morning the bodies of nine gray wolves laid near Gramps trap, and thirteen were found by Frantz, and he took the pile of pelts.
On their return to the Brazos they found an immense herd of, buffalo on the divide between that river and the Wichita. To use the words of one of the party, “it seemed as though all the buffalo on the plains had emigrated to Texas.” The paths were innumerable. Every green thing had been devoured, and that there was no grazing for their oxen. They were forced to return to Millers Creek, where they joined Shaw and Davis. Hawes had taken over 300 hides, and gone into camp 5 miles further up the creek. The country was black with bison. The men hunted three weeks longer and then flour ran short and the weather became bad. They returned to Jacksboro, after nearly 4 months absence. Over 1200 buffalo, thirty-eight deer, fifty-two wolves and twenty-seven coyotes had been killed and skinned, and one wild horse captured.
THE MARKET FOR BUFFALO MEAT
Graham says that he sold 100 buffalo hides at Sherman for $140. This was his first hunt. On the following where he went up into the Cedar Mountains, about sixty miles southwest of Fort Griffin, and “killed for meat.” The meat was cured and afterwards sold in Dallas. Only the hams are taken. The rest of the carcasses is left to the wolves and ravens. The hams, when cut up and thoroughly cured, will not average more than eighty pounds apiece. In two months Graham killed and salted down hundred 113 buffalo. He hunted the beast up to the winter of 1877. Long before that the brawny Missouri and Kansas professionals had swept down into the country with their “prairie shooters.” Graham says the slaughter was terrible. Long, of Fort Griffin, killed 3000 in one winter, and big Jim White, of Kansas, 800 in a month. Jim is said to have killed thirty-one buffalo in thirty-two consecutive shots. All these beast were killed for their hides. The flesh, horns and hoofs were wasted. Thousands of tons of meat as good as beef rotted on the prairies while hundreds of persons were starving in Eastern cities. “Enough was wasted,” said Graham, “to have made the siege of Paris as long as the siege of Troy.”
THE HIDE HUNTER
Some of the buffalo hunters own many teams and pay their hunters by the month, or allow them a percentage of the profits. The killer commands the highest price, the Skinners and the camp followers ranging next in pay. The killer rides ahead on the pony, with rifle across the pommel of his saddle. His belt is filled with cartridges, which he allows no one to load but himself. The Skinners follow in a wagon. When the herd is sighted, the killer rides as near as possible, taking advantage of the wind in any inequalities of ground. After tying his pony to a mesquite bush, he drops upon his knees and begins to crawl upon the herd. Once within rifle shot, he lies facedown word, and places two rest-sticks , something like and X on the ground. Over the sticks he sights his game. After the first shot the herd generally run at least a hundred yards. Then they turned about and watch the struggles of the dying buffalo. If the killer keeps cover, the herd may come back and paw around the dead body, as cattle do when they smell blood. The killer always tries to shoot the animals likely to lead the herd away. This is what is termed “holding the herd.” It requires great experience. When the leaders fall, the herd, seeing their bodies on the ground, frequently lie down among them, and stay there until stampeded.
The killers work completed, he signals for the wagons to come up, and the Skinners draw their knives. Two ropes attached to the axles, trail behind the wagon. Each terminates in a loop. The loops are placed over a fore and hind leg, the team is started, and the dead animal turned on its back. It is held in this position by scotching the wagon. The Skinners roll up their sleeves and go to work. The hide is peeled from the belly by a man on each side. Each Skinner carries two knives, one for skinning and the other for ripping. The knives are frequently sharpened. A grindstone is usually carried in the wagon. After the hide is removed it is thrown into the wagon, and the Skinners move on from carcass to carcass, until the “whole stand,” as it is called, is skinned.
HOW THE HIDES ARE CURED
When taken to camp the pelts are laid in rows in a place known as “the hide yard.” They are spread out flesh side up, and holes are cut near the edges within acts or Tomahawk. If not pressed for time a knife may be used. One of the party that goes around with an arm full of pegs, and distributes them on the hides. He averages about 16 pegs to the hide. The skins are next stretched in the pegs driven into the ground. The hides remained there until they become as hard as flint. They are then taken up and sunned. After a day or two they are cramped or folded, flesh side in, like the leaves of a book. Next they are piled readily for market. Hides are taken in summer are sprinkled with poison to keep the bugs out of them. Thousands of hides are spoiled by the rains. Frequently the wolves get at them and tear them to pieces. Some hunters kill the animals all the year round and even slaughtering the cows with calf. Others condemned this practice, and will not associate with those who follow it. There are many professional terms. A ‘cripple” is a buffalo that has been wounded and is after word discovered and killed .A ‘spike” is a young bull. The best hides are tanned and reserved for robes. Others are made into leather. The coarser ones are turned into harness, being too porous for shoes.
THE MEAT HUNTERS
Those who hunt the bison for his meat are a class by themselves. A hole like a grave is dug in the ground and a hide placed there in with the fur toward the earth. The rim of the hide is staked to the edge of the grave, and makes a leather vat. The hams, are cut into three chunks and thrown into the vat. They are sprinkled with salt and seasoned with saltpeter. The vat is then covered within a stiff hide and the meat thus protected from the sun. Tongues are pickled in a similar way. After the meat is thoroughly soaked it is taken out of the vat and cut into smooth pieces. These pieces are strung on bear grass and hung in a rude smokehouse covered with hides. The meat can not be smoked too much. It cures according to the weather. Sometimes it is in the smokehouse two months before it is marketable. It finds a ready sale in the frontier towns, and is frequently sold as far South as New Orleans. It is very palatable.
“Half the fun in killing buffalo,” said Graham, “is in observing their curious actions. I have stuck up a hat and seen a whole herd gather around it, and stare at it for hours. If one animal gets bogged, a half-dozen others are pretty sure to fall into the trap. Anything will stampede them. The stupidity is most remarkable . As stupid as a buffalo” is a common expression among herders. The little calves are more suspicious than their parents. Bulls have shorter tales than cows. There’d tales are bad fly brushes, for they could not hit a fly in a week.”
When the fleshy side of the green hide is exposed to the sun, the skin becomes as hard as iron. Four years ago a party of Texas cow-boys caught a horse thief on the border of the Indian territory. As there was no tree handy on which to hang him, they sewed him up in a green buffalo hide and left it on the plains, under the burning sun. A year after word the hide was found. The skeleton rattled within it as to dried peas in a pod. It was cut open within acts, and the remains of the unfortunate for speed were identified by the clothes.
Juniata Sentinel and Republican
Dec 11 1878
For a distance of some 30 or 40 miles from the crooked, elevated canon pass near the foot of the second canon of the Yellowstone to its gate of the mountains the lovely trail pass to Fort Ellis, the main Yellowstone and the west fork of the Gallatin run northerly, nearly parallel, and but a few miles apart. But between them towers into the snow-capped peaks 9,000 and 10,000 feet high, one of the blackest, roughest, most repellent and most impassable basaltic mountain ranges upon the continent. While its western side towns from the lovely Gallatin valley of the Bozeman and Fort Ellis like battlements amid the clouds, it’s eastern descends basaltic terraces to the enchanting Bottler Park along the Yellowstone. These terraces, With countless recent earthquake fissure rents, usually somewhat parallel with the main range and each other, often hundreds, sometimes thousands of feet deep, and no wider, with towering, rugged, often impassable walls of black, red, violets, and other sombrehued pudding stone, basalt and lava, mingled with a scattering the dwarf pine and cedar, fringed the grassy slopes. These again, cross-furrowed by the narrow, tortuous, yawning canon , outlets of the huge hot springs, your crystal lakes and grassy cedar-fringed cliff, sheltered parks high amid eternal snows, unite to form a region of matchless, enchanting beauty and repellent horror. That countless bleaching horns and bones, and if you domesticated specimens roaming peacefully with our domestic cattle, alone attest the recent occupancy of the valley by the curly bison or mountain buffalo. But the sharp eyed, fleet footed antelope in the black tail along the terraced grassy slopes; the fierce wolverine and mountain lion in the dense thickets, ferocious grizzly in the rugged canon passes, speckled trout and tufted waterfowl of the lovely lakes, the stately antlered elk stocking proudly through cedar groves and secluded grassy glens, and the majestic big horn grazing leisurely from, or dashing fearlessly along the rocky battlements high amid snow and cloud, still seem as of yore, game in scenery combined, forming not for the timid pilgrim, but for the bold, experienced, cliff climbing mountaineer an earthly hunters paradise in the fabled Eden of the departed Indian warrior beyond the distant mountains. This has ever been the chosen hunting ground of Frederick Bottler, the “mighty hunter of the mountains,” (immortalized by professor Haydens scene of him amid his five huge antlered elk laying as they fell before his deathly rifle and the famous photograph of “The Successful Hunter,” ) and here for the past eight years we have together closed are mountain sport for the season and with uniform success. We this year, on the morning of October 9, with our saddle and pack horses past where the Scottish Earl Dun Raven killed his largest big horn and Texas Jack from a branch treetop thankfully saw his wounded grizzly demolish his Winchester instead of himself, to one of our chosen haunts seldom visited by white men, and never by Indians, deep and worn amid surrounding crags and snow. At 2 o’clock P.M. we picketed our horses (still saddled for use) in a small grassy glade and recommenced out hunt, which a Parson Murray, of Adirondack fame, would have enjoyed a month and chronicled a lifetime, both with us, soon finished.
At this ruting season of the year the huge antlered elk, when heated in the chase, cool themselves, buffalo like, in wallow beds, only more wet and muddy. While guided by the loud, peculiar, wooing elf whistle, we were cautiously approaching on of these haunts in a thicket of Pinon pines, Frederick, who was in advance, discovered an approaching grizzly, and at a distance of fifty yards gave him a mortal shot through the neck and breast, but as he charged I instantly stopped him with a bullet crashing through the brain. Three other grizzly, until then unseen, reared snorting in the thicket, but while withholding our fire for deadly aim in their expected charge, as usual when attacked, they strangely slid from sight in retreat. In trailing them, I when some distance from Frederick, brought down a very large and fine cow elf, with one bullet through the breast, two through the lungs, and with the fourth broke her neck, a;; sent as fast as possible from a Winchester rifle. Before reaching my game, Frederick, who had meantime killed an antelope and a sheep, and becoming alarmed at my rapid firing, came up breathless to join in an expected bear fight, and only throating our game we hastened over a low ridge where Frederick had seen a herd of elk.
Scores if not hundreds of them, were laying, grazing, or gamboling, singly or in groups, for adown the opposite terrace, fully a thousand feet below us, and a half mile away; a charming scene for a painter, but practically too far away for us, and without molesting them we steered for a band heard whistling nearer camp. Having an abundance of meat, we now went for horns, and cautiously approaching, with but one ring of both rifles, brought down the largest horned bull within range, and then dashed , rifle in hand, into the herd for the loftiest antlers near the other side. There seemed about 100 of them, mainly 3 or 1 year old bulls, and as these animals do not visit the Park, probably few in any of them had ever seen a human being, for at the report of our rifles, the most of them looked hastily to the surrounding cliffs, searching for the echoes: other ran off, while some of the group around the one we had shot gazed in silent wonder at his reeling fall, spouting gore, and dying struggles. Others snorted in affright, and two, perhaps rivals for some favorite cow, charged boldly in for a free fight with a fallen foe and each other, too much occupied with their sport to notice us, until somewhat diverging from Frederick I ran up to certainly less than 50 feet when they observed me, and one of them ran off. The other, a noble 4 year old, standing nearly astride neck, and lofty antlers, seemed to momentarily expand in fierceness, to magnificent proportions, and preparations for a fearful charge, and when he with fairly bristling hair gave the fearful battle snort, his acrid hot hissing saliva nearly reached me. I have often and again heard their wooing, whistle – snorting battle challenge, and clashing horns, but never before when I was so near – most unmistakably the party challenge – utterly exposed, with no possibility of retreat, and only a bare one of a fortunate shot to drop him before transfixed by a score of antler points. During over 40 years of frontier experience, I have thankfully sought the lee side of a friendly bluff, boulder, or breakwork from a shower of hailstones or bullets, a hidden coula from a wounded bull, or a dashing herd of buffalo, a torked tree from a wounded black tailed buck, and a low branched one, easy to climb, from a powder burned grizzly, but never before realized how terribly formidable the usually timid, but fleet, proud, lofty antlered Rocky Mountains elk could become when scenting blood, thoroughly aroused, and proudly facing the unknown biped man – belted, armed and plumed, stocking erect into his battle rain. For a moment I would have rather faced a family of snorting grizzlies, but unwisely, for, with my answering shout of mingled challenge and affright, the God – stamped fear of his degenerate image – upon nearly all animals – reached him, but all too late, for high in his first leap of retreat a rifle rang out, and his proud form and lofty antlers crashed headlong in death beside his fellow. As Fred had also brought down another, we desisted, not for want of game, but inclination for wanton slaughter. With horse and lasso we, without skinning, soon dragged our game just passed our spare horses in a little sheltered glade, to our blazing campfire beneath the sheltering branches of an ancient cedar.
The Valley Falls, Kansas Dec 21 1878
The Wyandott_ Herald Kansas City, Kansas Dec 26 1878