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Tom Mix Buffalo Hunt on the 101 Ranch
Photo provided by Wikimedia

The Ogden Standard
Ogden, Utah Jan. 10, 1920
 Bison Herd Seen on Screen in New Mix ‘ Feature “The Feud”

The passing of the monarch of the plains the American bison generally called the buffalo is recalled by “The Feud,” the new Tom Mix feature which William Fox will present starting Sunday at the Ogden theatre.

A herd of bison and a bison hunt arc shown on the screen in this feature Tom Mix and his company went from Los Angeles, Cal., to Ponca City, Okla., to get the animals to be photographed. There are fewer than 5,000 bison left in the whole United States according to the most recent estimate, and the famous 101 ranch, owned by Colonel Joe Miller, contains the largest single herd. Permission to photograph the herd was obtained through the personal friendship between Tom Mix and Colonel Miller who even permitted the daredevil star to shoot down one of his bison during the hunt now recorded in films.

The herd of bison seen in “The Feud” numbers several score, from majestic old bulls down to calves. They are first seen grazing. Then the hunters come and the bison break into their peculiar lumbering gallop. The hunt and the shooting of bison from horseback while galloping at full speed arc very exciting and for a visualization of frontier days that will live in the memory fall who see it.

The practical extinction of the bison is a chapter in American history, which is universally regretted. Time was when the bison ranged the plains from Great Slave lake, northern latitude 62, to the northeastern provinces of Mexico, latitude 25. While buffalo bones have been found as far east as Ohio and as far to the northwest as Puget Sound, their main habitat was between the Mississippi river and the Rocky mountains. The bison were pre-eminently gregarious. Their behavior was much like that of domestic cattle. On that account, they were easy prey for hunters. The Indians killed many by driving herds over cliffs. But the real passing of the bison came when the white man began extending the frontiers of civilization westward. The animals, which darkened the plains, were slaughtered wholesale. Often only the tongues were utilized, for they were considered a great delicacy. The skins were often tanned. The “buffalo coat” and the “buffalo robe” were familiar objects two generations ago. Now the mighty monarch of the plains is virtually a thing of the past; existing only on reservations and in private herds, such as the one on the 101 ranch which is shown in “The Feud.”


The Times
London, Greater London, England June 5, 1920

The chief event of the week at the Zoological Gardens has been the birth of an American bison. The calf is a sturdy young male, which tried to run about within two hours of his birth. The coat is a light fawn, uniform over the body, and there is no trace of horns. The almost complete destruction of the bison, the largest native of America, and the successful endeavors to prevent its final extinction are valuable object lessons as to the danger that threatens the remaining wild animals of the world and as to the possibilities of preserving them by well-concerted measures.

In the first half of the 10th century, bison existed in almost incredible numbers throughout the greater part of the American continent. Nearly a quarter of a million buffalo robes were marketed annually, and the annual destruction reached two or three millions. In I860 the construction of the Union Pacific Railway divided the bison into a northern and southern herd, and the transport facilities led to a rapid increase in the rate of slaughter. In 1871 the southern herd was estimated at three millions; by 1875 it had been completely wiped out. When the Northern Pacific Railway was opened in 1880, the northern herd had already been exterminated in Canada, although a few survived in the Canadian North-West Territories, but by 1884 its American division had been reduced to under a thousand. In 1889 the total bison population was estimated at 1,091 individuals, of which 200 were protected in the Yellowstone Park. Measures for the protection of this remnant were taken, and by 1903 the numbers had increased to 1,753. In 1907 the Canadian Government purchased a private herd in Montana, which, under the care of Its owner, Michael Pablo, had increased to 700. Most of these were successfully transported to the Canadian reserve known as Buffalo Park. Wainwright, Alberta. They have increased steadily every year, and now number more than three times the total bison population of the Continent in I889. The United States have now eight reserves for bison, containing a total of nearly a thousand animals. Part of the stock for these was obtained from zoological collections in Europe.


Buffalo Morning Express and Illustrated Buffalo Express
Buffalo New York, June 7, 1920

Bull lost a bit of hide and hair in Saturday’s episode and is turned in with mate.

Otto, the new bison hull who arrived at the zoo amidst storm and strife on Saturday afternoon, had entirely recovered from the crick in the back which he sustained during the unloading ceremonies and was ready yesterday to get away with three square meals and to provide entertainment for the crowd that turned out to view him and his mate, Julia. The crick in the back was received when he wedged himself under two steel cross bar and had to be extricated by Old Bill and a wrecking crew.

“Nothing missing but a little hair and hide,” said Superintendent Charley Snyder yesterday as he watched Otto eat with great satisfaction. In a way, it was a good thing that the bull got wedged in that way because it took some of the starch out of him and made him easier to handle. The way he was tearing around made me fear for a moment or two that he would get his leg caught and that we would have a bison with a broken leg on our hands.”

The narrow passage between paddocks into which the bull charged during the unloading episode was built to provide safety for the keepers who attend the animals. It was Just wide enough for Otto to get in and not wide enough for him to turn around, so he had to be backed out and as any one of the spectators will testify, it takes some skill to back a wild bison bull out of a narrow runway. But Charley Snyder, with the aid of an ordinary stable broom, did it

The two animals, which are expected to be the foundation for a bison herd at the too, bad so far recovered from the excitement of the journey from Chicago yesterday that Mr. Snyder deemed it safe to turn them in together. Accordingly, the gate between the two paddocks was opened and Otto went over Into Julia’s boudoir to make friends. The two animals will be kept together hereafter, said Mr. Snyder last night because love’s young dream is apparently running smoothly and there is not a cloud on the blue sky of Otto and Julia’s idyll.

The herd of Siberian yaks, which formerly got a great play from the amateur zoologists who were under the impression that they were buffalo, were without admirers yesterday. The crowd had discovered that they were yaks and nothing more and refused to be awed by their long hair and apparently ferocious mien. The yaks have been relegated to a far-off corral since Otto and his mate appeared on the scene, but they are Interesting as yaks because some baby yaks are among them, while there won’t be any baby bison until next spring.


Wichita Daily Stockman
Wichita, Kansas July 5, 1920
Oklahoma Raised Over 100 Buffaloes
Three Other States Surpass Oklahoma in Bison Raising.

Oklahoma is doing its share to prevent the extinction of that distinctively American animal, the bison. The report of the American Bison Society; Society; just received by Ben Watt, state game, and fish warden, shows 2 buffalo calves were born in Oklahoma last year. This record was surpassed by only three other states, Montana, South Dakota and Wyoming. The total number of bison in Oklahoma Jan. 1, 1920, was 296; according to the society’s census.

Buffalo are kept at seven places in this state: the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch at Bliss; the Wichita National Game Preserve at Cache; the State Game Preserve and Wheeler Park at Oklahoma City; the zoological garden at Sand Springs; the Platt National Park at Sulphur; and Maj. G. W. Lillie’s herd at Pawnee. The largest herd is in the Wichita preserve, 119 being kept there. The animals are allowed to graze all the year except during the months of January and February when hay is fed to them.

Warden Watt expects Oklahoma’s bison to increase in number considerably this year. Nine calves were born this spring in the state preserve at Oklahoma City, where only 12 females are now kept. This birth percentage is said to be very high.


The Pittsburgh Press
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Sep 13, 1920
Today – Wool From Bisons.

The wool of the American bison surviving in the national parks is no longer to go to waste. It will be clipped, the bisons permitting and made into clothing for the park rangers. In national parks, laws protect bisons, deer and other animals from their enemies, the wolves, and men. There would be no lack of wool, no lack of meat if the government all over the country would protect sheep from their enemies, the dogs. In one state sheep farming is given up almost entirely in order that foolish individuals may have the pleasure of owning 400,000 dogs, useless, except to flatter their masters by pretending to think them superior.


The Scranton Republican
Scranton Pennsylvania Oct. 6, 1920

 The European bison, though it was not wholly exterminated, was. so reduced in numbers that for 100 years or more the only known specimens have been those that the czars and a few members of the Russian and Polish nobility have preserved in their great forested hunting grounds.

When the great war broke out the czar of Russia had about 180 in his “state at Spain and Count Potocki had forty or more in his preserves. Walter Winans, the noted American rifle shot and sportsman, who has long lived abroad, now reports what lovers of wild life everywhere will regard as almost a calamity namely, that the Bolshevists have destroyed the last bison in both – herds and therefore have probably written the end of another sad chapter of zoological history. Reports from other and later sources attribute the deed not to the Bolshevists for wantonness, but to the German troops for food. But either report leaves the fact of the slaughter doubt.

In the caves of Altamira, in Spain, an unknown race set down the first records of the bison in the form of wonderfully, realistic carvings and pictures. In the forests – of Russian Poland another race has written finis to those records with high – power, rifles. Youths Companion


The Age
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Nov. 20, 1920

 For some years past it had been thought that the herds of wild bison in Canada, once so numerous, had been exterminated, though a few small groups might exist unknown in the great timber belt, fortunately private enterprise had collected a fair herd of over 100 head before the wild bison had disappeared, and since then several small herds had been formed by drafting from this and by exchanges with herds existing in the United States.

In the United States there is the Government herd maintained in the National Yellowstone Park. This herd is of considerable size, but much inferior in quality to the great Canadian private herd  formed by Mr. Jones just in time to save the bison from extermination. There are several small herds known to exist in the wilder parts of Wyoming.

During last summer Mr. F. H. Kitto, the exploring engineer of the natural resource branch of the Canadian Department of the Interior, was engaged on a five months exploring trip in “the Lower Mackenzie River basin, and there he saw a herd of wild bison over 1000 strong, later, further to the north, he met with a still larger herd. These finds are of the utmost importance from an economic point of view, and the Canadian Government is certain to take prompt action to preserve them.

The. bison’s beef is of very high quality, while the tongue and hump were recognized dainties. The skin, which furnished the famous buffalo robes of the past generation, is unrivalled for keeping out the cold; indeed it formed the only effective protection so far known. This is owing to the double growth of hair, the longer outer hair, as it may be described, and the fine and close under hair, which is preserved in the curling; and thanks to the close grain of the skin and the thickness and fineness of the under hair of the pelt is impenetrable by the keenest wind.



1920 Bison History

Abbeville Herald
Abbeville, Alabama Nov 25, 1920
Buffalo Safe From Extinction

THE American bison buffalo is now safe from extinction, extinction, the scientists announce. What’s more, the buffalo is coming back. Maybe our children’s children will have buffalo, robes and buffalo skin coats as our fathers did. Anyway, of the myriads of this splendid big animal, whose range once covered the continent, there were but 1,091 head alive In 1889. Now there are 7,360 in the United States and Canada.

Efforts of the American and Canadian governments to save the bison which was slaughtered almost to the point of extermination are described by C. Gordon Hewitt in Natural History, History, the official magazine of the museum of that name. Mr. Hewitt is actively engaged in the salvage, as consulting geologist to the Ottawa Commission of Conservation. He says the manner in which the total loss of this magnificent animal has been prevented should fill with hope and confidence all who are trying to conserve wild life. “

There were literally myriads of buffalo in the old days and their habitat originally covered nearly all of the North American continent. Even as late as’1871 there was seen migrating across the plains a wedge-shaped herd on a 25-mile front with a depth of 50 miles; such a drove could contain no fewer than 4,000,000 head.

Dr. William T. Hornaday, director of the New York Zoological park, says in a pamphlet that the original range started almost at tide water on the Atlantic coast, extended westward through dense forest, across the Allegheny mountain system to the Mississippi prairies, and southward to the delta. Although the plains country of the West was the home of the species, where it flourished most abundantly, it wandered south toward Texas, westward across the Rocky Mountains into New Mexico, Utah and Idaho, and northward across a vast treeless waste to the inhospitable shorts of the Great Slave Lake. The vast herds seemed to clothe the prairies with a coat of brown.

George Catlin, in a book in 1832, said from 150,000 to 200,000 robes were marketed annually, which meant the slaughter of from 2,000,000 to 3,000,000, bison. About the same time Fremont bore witness to the appalling destruction.

The death knell of the bison was truck when Union Pacific construction began in 1866. Previously the difficulties of marketing served as a slight check on the rate of extermination, This railroad divided the original body into southern and northern herds. Hornaday estimates that in 1871 the southern herd contained 3,000,000 animals, though most estimates give a higher total. Between 1871 and 1875 the great southern herd was wiped out of existence.

Final slaughter of the northern herd was inaugurated by the opening of the Northern Pacific In 1880, when the half-breeds of Manitoba, the Plains Cree of Qu’Appelle and the Blackfeet of South Saskatchewan swept bare a great belt of country stretching east and west between the Rocky Mountains and Manitoba. A few thousand remained in the country around the headwaters of Battle River, between North and South Saskatchewan, but they were surrounded and attacked from all sides until all were killed. Hornaday computes that the number of animals slaughtered annually by the Northwest Indians must have been 375,000. Only straggling bands were left. On the basis of all available data, Hornaday estimated that the number running wild and unprotected was 635. In 1889 there were 256 buffalo in captivity, 200 under protection in. Yellowstone Park and 635 running wild (of which number 550 were estimated to be in the Athabasca region of the Canadian Northwest Territories) a total of 1,091.

An attempt was then made by the United States to protect the remnant. By 1903, according to census, the number had increased to 1,753 head, mainly confined in American reservations and parks. In 1917 the Canadian government purchased a herd of 700 head owned by Michael Pablo of Montana, and a special national park was provided for the herd at Wainwrlght, Alberta. By 1918 this herd had increased to 3,711 head. The number of captive bison in the United States in 1919 was 3,048 head, and there were about 70 head running wild, making a total of 3,118. Counting the Canadian protected herds at 3,711, and adding 500 wild bison in the Athabasca region, where they are now protected, and 40 in public and private parks, the total In Canada at the beginning of 1919 was 4,520 animals. So there are approximately 7,360 bison in the United States and Canada, compared with 1,091 in 1889, showing that they are coming back.

In fact, it seems to be certain that the buffalo is coming back. For example, there are two herds in Yellowstone National park a wild herd and a “tame” herd and both are increasing. There are known to be at least 90 animals in the wild herd. The tame herd now (1919) numbers 413 animals, the increase of a herd of 21 established in 1902.

The calves of the 1919 season numbered 90. In fact, Mr.Hewitt is so certain that the buffalo is coming back that he discusses the problem of what to do with the surplus when it becomes a fact. He says:

“The rapid increase of the bison in our national reservations raises the question as to what we shall do with our surplus. In the Buffalo Park at Wainwright, Alberta, this question is becoming a serious one, as they will soon occupy as much range as is capable of sustaining them.

“The natural answer to this question is to create additional reservations, which policy undoubtedly will be followed, particularly in the United States, where much additional range suitable for bison, but less suitable for agricultural purposes, is available. In addition provision is being made for the donation of surplus animals to municipalities, public organizations and institutions.

“But cannot we go a step further and consider the desirability of encouraging farmers to purchase surplus animals from the government and to maintain them? Any one who has visited the bison in our national reservations will agree that if they were maintained in a semi-domesticated state they could be treated in the same manner as range cattle, provided they were inclosed. The cost of building suitable fencing might prove an obstacle in many cases, but it should not prove insuperable, in view of the high price of beef. As a beef animal the value of the bison is well worth ‘the careful consideration of our agricultural authorities. In addition it provides a robe of proven value in more northerly states and provinces. Not the least of the advantages of the bison over domestic cattle is their ability to ‘rustle’ for themselves in winter and under climatic conditions which prove a hard ship to our introduced cattle.”

Of course the plains Indians practically lived off the buffalo; the animal was food, clothing and shelter to them. But the crime of the wanton destruction of the buffalo lies at the door of the white man. Why, the passengers used to empty their rifles into the herds as the trains sped over the plains. Thousands of animals were killed simply for the tongue, says Mr. Hewitt in this connection.

“With the coming of the railroads through the West and an increased demand for buffalo robes, the butchery of the ‘still hunt’ began. Other methods were too slow for the commercial hunter who must kill hundreds of bison in order to realize on pelts worth but from 65 cents to $4 apiece. The still hunter approached the herd to within 100 to 250 yards and proceeded with great deliberation to shoot down the animals without stampeding them. Their leader, usually the oldest cow, was first disposed of, and then the others slaughtered one by one. One or two shots a minute could be fired, and with good luck a hundred bison killed, from one stand, so that one hunter was able to account for from 1.000 to 3,000 head a season. .

“The miles of bones eventually gave rise to a traffic which became remunerative as there grew up a demand for phosphate for fertilizers and bone black for refining sugar. In 1874 the Santa Fe railroad alone shipped nearly 7,000,000 pounds of bones, which brought as much as $18 a ton crushed.

“Time will not efface the trace of the bison’s occupation of the continent,” Mr. Hewitt says. “They blazed the trails that later became important highways. The bison selected the route through the Alleghenies by which the white man entered and took possession of the Mississippi valley. They found the best routes across the continent, and human intercourse will move constantly in paths first marked by the buffalo. It is interesting that the bison found the strategic passageways through the mountains, marked out the most practical paths between the heads of our rivers paths that are closely followed today by the Pennsylvania, Baltimore & Ohio, Chesapeake & Ohio, Wabash and other great railroads.”