James “Scotty” Philip (30 April 1858 – 23 July 1911) was a Scottish-born American rancher and politician in South Dakota, remembered as the “Man who helped save the Buffalo” due to his role in helping to preserve the American Bison from extinction.
Philip was born in Dallas, Morayshire, Scotland. He emigrated to the United States in 1874 at the age of 15. He first settled in Victoria, Kansas, but moved to Dakota Territory on hearing of the discovery of gold in the Black Hills.
In 1879 he married Sarah Larribee (1851 – 1937), in Fort Robinson, Nebraska: in 1881 they settled down to ranch in Stanley County, Dakota Territory, just east of the present location of Philip, whose name memorializes the man who helped found it.
While he was building his cattle herd, Scotty Philip met Pete Dupree, whose son Fred had rescued 5 bison calves from an 1881 buffalo hunt along the Grand River. After Dupree’s death, Philip decided to preserve the species from extinction, and in 1899 he purchased Dupree’s herd, which now numbered 74 head, from Dupree’s brother-in-law, Dug Carlin.
Philip prepared a special pasture for the bison along the western side of the Missouri River north of Fort Pierre, and drove the herd there in 1901. (57 head a 100 miles)
Scotty Philip died suddenly on July 23, 1911: by that time the herd had grown to approximately a thousand head. He was buried on a family cemetery near his buffalo pasture. As the funeral procession passed, some of the bison came down out of the hills. Newspapers of the time suggested the bison were “showing their respect to the man who had saved them”.- Wikepedia
South Dakota bought thirty-six buffalo from Philip. The state wanted to start a herd. The animals were put in Custer State Park. Other people bought buffalo from Philip, too. – SD Historical Society
Los Angeles Herald
Los Angeles California Nov 27, 1890
DANGER IN DAKOTA
Reliable Scouts Say an Outbreak is Sure to Occur.
Chicago, Nov. 26. —General Miles tonight received a telegram from Governor Mellette, of South Dakota, conveying the intelligence brought in by Scotty Phillips, a ranchman who was a scout In 1876-79. The governor vouches for his good character and judgment. Phillips expresses the opinion that there will be an uprising soon. A few days ago twelve bucks, well armed, stopped at a house on the way from Rosebud to the camp at South Pass creek. They were very surly and made threats. A ranchman, named Waldron, also reported to Governor Mellette that Indians killed quite a number of his cattle recently. Phillips says everybody who has been among the Indians any length of time expects an uprising soon. Short Bull’s headquarters are at Pass Creek, where the dance is going on. Phillips and Waldron think it is the point fixed upon for concentration. Fifteen hundred armed warriors are there, and they say they won’t give up Short Bull under any circumstances. Short Bull is teaching them that they will be made invulnerable against the white men’s bullets. The governor promises further information, and renews his application for guns and ammunition.
Minneapolis Nov. 26. —A Tribune special from Pierre, S. D., says the statement made by cattlemen Phillips and Waldron, the substance of which was telegraphed to General Miles by Governor Mellette, tonight, created much excitement there. Phillips and Waldron are known to be intimately acquainted with all the prominent Indians and their ways, having married into the tribe and great reliance is placed on their assertion that trouble is coming. There is a report that army officers have been ordered to capture Short Bull and some other leaders. Phillips and Waldron are sure such an attempt will precipitate bloodshed. In case of an outbreak grave apprehensions are felt for the settlers in the counties to the north, as roving bands of Indians can scatter up there and destroy everything long before the troops can catch them.
The Leaf Chronicle
Clarksville, Tennessee Nov 28, 1890
Scotty Phillips’ Story Sent to Division Headquarters
Chicago, Nov. 28. Gen. Miles has received the following telegram from Governor Millette, of South Dakota, dated Pierre, S. Dak.:
“Scotty Phillips, a cattleman, living at the mouth of the Grand Stone Butt Creek, brings me the following intelligence. Phillips is a very cool, courageous and reliable man and was a good scout throughout the Sioux and Cheyenne troubles. He reports eight days ago, five lodges, containing twelve bucks, armed with Winchesters and laden with “ammunition, camped at his house, going from Rosebud to a large camp which is formed on White river, at the month of Pass Creek
“The Indians were surely and defiant in manner. One of them said he had seen the time when they used to beat out the brains of children and drink womens’ blood, and that the time was coming when they would do it again.. In the last few days Phillips has had twenty cattle killed by the Indians. Three half-breeds from White river stopped at Phillip’s house Monday night and. said they expected to find the settlements destroyed when they got home. Phillips says everybody who has been among the Indians any length of time, without exception; say that there is going to be an uprising and that very quickly.
“The dance at Short Bull’s head quarters at Pass creek has been running for a month, and Phillips thinks it is a point fixed for concentration for all the bands. He thinks there are 1,000 lodges and 1,600 armed warriors there now. The Indians say they will not give up Short Bull, and will fight when the soldiers try to arrest them. Indian runners pass Phillips’ house night and day traveling between Standing Rock and the camp on Pass creek. “
Governor Millette concludes his telegram with an urgent request for the establishment of post at Chamberlain and Forest City.
After perusing the dispatch Gen. Miles said that Gens. Ruger and Brooke were making all preparation possible to protect the lives and property of settlers.
Gen. Miles will leave at once for Washington to meet with the Indian commissioner, and directly afterward will visit the seat of the Indian troubles.
Chicago Daily Tribune
Chicago, Illinois Dec 28, 1890
Indians Killing His Cattle
PIERRE, S.D. Dec. 27. _[Special.] – Scotty Phillips, a well known ranchman living on a reservation, came to the city today to make some arrangements to protect his own and Gov. Mellett’s cattle which are running near the Bad Lands. He says the hostiles have hundreds of range cattle in the Bad Lands which they are killing and eating. He says the troops are afraid to go into the Bad Lands for fear of being ambushed. He purposes to receive sanction to muster a regular company of cowboys who will go through the hostile country and regain the stolen cattle and make some “good Indians.”
Ninety-seven Indians or the Two Kettle tribe today signed, filing papers giving them land in severalty on the lately ceded reservation.
The Daily Deadwood Pioneer Times
Deadwood, South Dakota Oct 1, 1901
THE LARGEST HERD OF BISON
James Dowd Visits Scotty Phillips Buffalo Pasture at Ft Pierre.
Pierre appears to be rather quiet, but Ft. Pierre is a rattling good business town. There is a large trade from the stock range this way from the town, on the reservation. The cattle shipments are from Pierre, but practically all the trading is done at Ft Pierre. The town is building up rapidly, and a large number of substantial business and residence buildings have been erected since Mr. Dowd was there before. There were several cattle outfits camped near the town while he was there A long rain sent in and as the outfits were un able to move on account of the gumbo, the cowboys spent most of their time in the town. From seventy-five to a hundred horses with saddles on could have been seen standing hitched on the streets day and night, and the town took on a decidedly lively air. Mr. Dowd visited Scotty Phillip’s buffalo ranch, seven miles up the river from Ft. Pierre. Mr. Phillips purchased the Dupree herd, consisting of sixty full blooded buffalo, and about thirty or forty half and quarter breeds, this being the largest herd of the creatures in existence today. Dupree, the old French squawman, spent years building up the herd at his ranch on the Cheyenne river northwest of Pierre, and the animals were sold by the administrator of the estate after his death, Mr. Phillips paying $300 a head for the full bloods and the mixed bloods being thrown in.
Mr. Phillips has a thousand acres of land enclosed by a fence, situated on the Missouri river, opposite Oahe. The fence that he has built about the wires on top. The posts are as large and completeness. It is seven feet high, of woven wire, with three barbed wires on top. The posts are as large as telegraph poles and are set five feet apart. The herd attracts much attention and a great many people cross the river at Pierre and go up to see them. Mr. Phillips intends, after the buffalo become tame enough not to become alarmed at sight of persons on foot, to make a business of exhibiting to the public at a nominal charge, putting transportation facilities from Ft. Pierre to the pasture.
The Daily Deadwood Pioneer Times
Deadwood, South Dakota Nov 7 1901
LAST OF THE BUFFALOS.
“Scotty” Phillips Has Them Corralled North of Ft. Pierre.
PIERRE, S. D., Nov. 6.-Of the millions of buffalo which not many years ago roamed over the country west of the Missouri river, the only herd of any importance as to numbers is now in the possession of James Phillip, of Fort Pierre. Mr. Phillip, known all over the western range country as “Scotty” became the owner of this herd about a year ago when is was disposed of in the settlement of the estate of Fred Dupree, and old French trapper.
About twenty-five years ago Dupree saw that the days of the buffalo were numbered and took it upon himself to perpetuate the species, believing that the best place to do this was in the country where they were natives. In the furtherance of this project, he organized a band of Indians and mixed-bloods, which headed by himself, went up into the Little Missouri river country where a few small herds of buffalo were yet known to roam. Their special was the capture of enough calves to start the herd, but it was a difficult task, and only a half dozen were captured. From these was started the herd which now comprises over fifty full-blood buffalo besides as many more half breeds.
As long as Dupree lived these animals were allowed to run practically wild on Cheyenne river, the only attention paid to them being to see that they did not work off of the range. After his death none of the numerous heirs cared to take the herd as a part of the share of the estate, and the whole herd was sold, “Scotty” Phillip the purchaser.
As soon as he had secured possession he prepared a pasture in which to hold them, the location being a rough tract of land in a bend of the Missouri river about eight miles above Fort Pierre. Here a thousand acres of land was enclosed with a fence seven feet high, built of strong posts set but five feet apart, on which was first placed strong woven wire, and over this several strands of barb wire. In this pasture the full-bloods of the herd are being held, and are a general attraction to visitors in this section of the northwest.
Having been practically roaming free all their lives they are different looking animals from those usually seen in parks and menageries, the leaders of the herd being monster bulls which will weigh more than a ton apiece.
In the past a few animals from this herd have been disposed of to shows and parks and while Mr. Philip expects to breed them as an investment for robes, this herd is .about the only one left In America to draw upon for specimens and in this alone they are of continued increasing value to the owner.
The Deadwood Daily Pioneer
Deadwood S.D. Jan. 21, 1904
HIS LAST TASTE OF BUFFALO
James Dowd of Deadwood Dines on the Meat at Pierre
While on a recent visit at Ft. Pierre, James Dowd, of Deadwood feasted on buffalo meat, the last he expects to taste. He was the guest of “Scotty” Phillips, the owner of probably the largest herd of buffalo in existence. Mr. Phillips had just returned from a buffalo hunting trip. in which Gov. Herreid had participated, and the party had brought back one buffalo bull, out of a number of outlawed animals that it had been impossible to run up when gathering the Dupree herd, purchased by Mr. Phillips. Mr. Dowd says the flavor of buffalo meat seemed very natural to him as it was prepared by a cook who knew how to prepare wild meat.
While in Ft. Pierre Mr. Dowd endeavored to purchase a buffalo head for M. R. Russell of Deadwood, and through his overtures he was enabled to discover how much of a prize a Buffalo head really is. Mr. Phillips had one that he offered to Mr. Dowd for $250. The latter also learned that the post master had a head and approaching him, was told he might have it for $400. He was also informed that such a head as that would if mounted, be worth $1,000 “I thought that too much,” said Mr. Dowd, “But when I told Mr. Russell about it, he said a buffalo head would be cheap at the price given me.”
Scotty Phillips is an old friend of Mr. Dowd and the latter was the guest of the former while in Ft. Pierre. Mr. Dowd says the Phillips’ herd of buffalo consists of eighty full blooded animals and twenty “half breeds. They are kept in an enclosure alone the west side of the Missouri river about half a mile above old Ft. Pierre, and about two and a half miles above the present town of Ft. Pierre. The enclosure takes in about 1200 acres, the fence being heavy woven wire to a height of five feet, with two heavy boards above that, making the fence altogether about seven feet high, set with heavy posts. The herd is watered at a spring in the pasture. During the winter months Mr. Phillips has several men employed to feed the animals. “To look over a herd of seventy-five or a hundred buffalo makes an old timer feel good.” said Mr. Dowd yesterday.
Mr. Dowd says the half breeds cannot be distinguished from the full bloods at a distance but upon close examination a difference is detected in the fur. Not that it is coarser, but it is not so heavy bout the forward quarters. He says Mr. Phillips has considered an offer to exhibit his herd of buffalo in at the Louisiana Purchase exposition in St. Louis this year, and has decided that the undertaking would involve too much responsibility. He would have to pay about $8,000 for a lot in which to exhibit his animals, and would have to give the exposition management a big percentage of the proceeds. Besides that he would be personally responsible, for the expense and danger in moving his animals to St. Louis and back. He has accordingly given up the project.
Dakota Farmers Leader
Canton, South Dakota Nov 4 1904
A Pierre boomer was telling on the streets Tuesday that if the capital was placed at Mitchell it would Injure Augustana College. When a man will talk such nonsense he is fit for the care of his friends. When the rapid development of a country will hurt a college, then it is time to bring Scotty Phillips’ buffalo down here
The Daily Deadwood Pioneer Times
Deadwood, South Dakota March 11 1905
Mr. and Mrs. Shaw Visited Fort Pierre, across the river from Pierre, and Mr. Shaw says the town bears every evidence of thrift and good business, with a great many substantial buildings.
They went through “Scotty” Phillips buffalo pasture, near Fort Pierre, and saw over fifty of his famous herd. He has 108 head altogether, the rest of them being out on the bluffs when Mr. and Mrs. Shaw were there.
Faye Longbrake, who is the granddaughter of Hjalmer Nordvold, shared these pictures of her Grandfather breaking bison for Scotty Phillips’.
Capital Journal publish her story.
Sioux Falls, South Dakota June 6 1905
Scotty Phillips’ Domestic Buffalo Are Growing
The Philips buffalo herd at the ranch near Fort Pierre has been increased twenty-five head this year from calves born in the herd. While a few are disposed of every year the increase is greater, and the herd has nearly doubled in size since it has been taken charge of by the present owner.
The weather bureau at this city reports a total rainfall of 4.23 inches for, the month of May. Only one shower came with a dash which allowed the water to run off, all the rest coming in soaking drizzles which went into the ground, and vegetation was never in better shape for this section of the state for the 1st of June.
The alfalfa fields along the river on the west side, above Fort Pierre, are reported to be ready for the first cutting with the hay standing about two feet high and as thick as it can grow on the ground. These fields have been arranged for irrigation from the river in case of necessity, but no such action has been required this year, the crop having developed from the rainfall.
The drilling outfit for the sinking of the artesian well at Fort Pierre, which is to furnish that city with gas for light and power, has arrived and is being placed in position. Governor Elrod has been invited by a number, of Indians from Lower Brule reservation to speak to them on the Fourth of July at a celebration which they have arranged for that day. As he has already promised to be at Webster for that date he has been compelled to decline the Lower Brule invitation.
Governor Elrod has commissioned J. R. Chapman, of Webster, as game warden for Day county.
The Weekly Pioneer Times
Deadwood, South Dakota Feb 11, 1909
MONEY IN THE BUFFALO
Scotty Phillips is making big money on his herd of buffalo. The buffalo was likely to become extinct when Scotty took the matter up, getting assistance of the United States government to the extent of securing a rental of 5,000 acres of land from the government at $50 a year. Phillips’ now has a herd of 200 buffalo which he could sell any day at $500 per head. In other words his herd is now worth $100,000, and it is increasing in numbers and value every year. If a buffalo dies, he sells the skin for a fancy sum, and stuffs the head for which he can get from $200 to $300. At Christmas time, he kills a buffalo or two and sells the meat in the eastern market at $1 a pound. The native buffalo lives from 30 to 40 years, and Scotty has something started which will prove a gold mine in the future. He can sell enough each year to keep him rich, and at the same time, the herd will increase in numbers and value.
The herd is located only a short distance from Ft. Pierre and hardly day passes that parties do not go to visit the ranch. The herd has been written up in many magazines and the owner is able to be about as independent as a hog on ice. Argus-Leader.
Hartford, Connecticut Oct. 23, 1911
Returning the President held a reception at a hotel for “boosters’ from the Rosebud country. Many of these men got up at 4 o’clock and motored 125 miles in the sharp wind to shake hands with him. The “boosters” wore soft white hats with artificial red rosebuds stuck through the bands. Many of them wore buffalo hide overcoats and others bearskin coats. At dinner the President had real buffalo steak, thanks to the courtesy of the heirs of the late “Scotty” Phillips, owner of the largest herd of buffalos in the world.
Belvidere Daily Republican
Belvidere, Illinois Sep. 5, 1911
Earl Ames is here on a visit from Belvidere, North Dakota. He came through with eighteen cars of cattle from the “Scotty”. Phillips buffalo Ranch, and came out to his old home for a visit before going back. He says that it has, been pretty dry in many parts of the country but, the fall rains are makings things green again.
Janesville Daily Gazette
Janesville Wisconsin Jan. 22, 1914
A FAMOUS BUFFALO HERD IS TO BE SOLD SHORTLY
(by associated press)
Gettysburg, S. Dak., Jan. 22. – The famous coast Scotty Phillips’ herd of buffalo, kept in 10,000-acre pasture near Fort Pierre, has been placed on the market by Phillip Phillips and Geo Phillips Jr.’ sobs and administrators of the estate of the late James Scotty Phillips. This herd, the largest in the United States, now includes 70 head yearlings, 55 head 2-year-olds, and 275 head of three-year-olds and older. They are all full bloods, mostly born in captivity.
Lead Daily Call
South Dakota Feb. 9, 1914
TO SELL THE HERD
(Special to the Call)
Pierre, Feb. 9. From present indications, the historic Scotty Philip buffalo herd of Fort Pierre will he sold. Although several offers for small numbers have been received, an effort is being made to sell the whole herd to the Canadian government, the American government having refused to purchase.
Adams County Free Press
Corning, Iowa Dec, 24. 1919
In answer to many personal inquiries as to how it came about the Tinsley Film Company went to South Dakota last fall, I will say in the first place it was no easy job to get them to go and after they arrived it was a still harder job to secure the rights which were granted without paying in cash heavily the privilege. However, through my personal acquaintance with the real estate firms, bankers, directors, boss farmers and the Scotty Phillips Estate and Indian Chiefs, I secured for Mr. Tinsley the privilege of getting the film of this great performance, which is all real.
This show is an annual event takes place twenty miles south of ranch on the Indian Reservation on the White river in Mellette county, South Dakota. Thousands, of people congregate every year from all over the United States and even as far Mexico and South America to enter in these contests for the large prizes offered by the association for the best riders, bull-doggers, skillful ropers and in fact every daring stunt that can be or ever was pulled off in the West.
Thousands of Indians from various tribes congregate in their grand and gorgeous array and put on war dances, pow wows dog eating, etc. Many performances Mr. Tinsley paid the chiefs for extra in order to get them to do stunts that were not on the program. One chief would not consider a cash payment but through the interpreter, the Indian boss farmer, Mr. Tinsley finally secured what he wanted to make complete his film by agreeing to dance what is called a squaw dance with the squaws, which he did, to the general delight of all the Indians.
In addition to the great performance at White river, I secured a right which had never, been granted to any movie man and drove 125 miles myself to do so and that is worth the price of admission itself. The Scotty Phillips Buffalo ranch of over eight hundred buffalo. They wanted $500.00 for the right but I was personally acquainted with the boys, who, by the way, are fine sports, and secured the right for nothing as I convinced them it as much of an investment for them and South Dakota as it was for the Film company. It takes some nerve to go out among eight hundred buffalo and commence twisting the crank but Tinsley stood pat until a big bull got wise and started to go the top and believe me we all moved These buffalo are worth about $300 each and are owned by the Phillips’ estate. Scotty Phillips’ wife was an Indian. The boys and girls are mighty fine people and assisted us in every way possible.
In addition to the above named performances, there are many features that are too numerous to mention–the eagle eye of the camera caught Frank Widner and Carl Piper looping the loop six thousand feet above the crowd in a big army air plane and Ed Johnson, our cafe proprietor, dancing the Indian War Dance and talking heap-much with Big Chiefs.
To make a long story short, be prepared to go and see this great production as it is well worth your and many times the cost. I am not interested a cent financially but want my friends to see a real Wild West Movie.
Yours truly, E. B. PIPER.
The Hays Free Press
Hays, Kansas Dec 8, 1921
JIM JAM JEMS BY JIM JAM JUNIOR
If a fellow dropped into your office in this day and age and bluntly stated that his mission was to invite you out onto the plains to kill a wild buffalo, you would think the fellow was either a lunatic or some Rip Van Winkle ST two and hadn’t been awake long enough to realize that there “ain’t no such animal” any more. But that is where you would be dead wrong. For just that very thing happened to us in the month of December in the year 1920 and we accepted the invitation, invitation, went and bagged a huge buffalo bull, and had one of those thrills that comes only “once in a lifetime.” And we are going to use this month’s preamble to recount our experiences.
But first let us give you a bit of interesting history. Just a few miles from old Fort Pierre in South Dakota, at the edge of the historic Black Hills, is located the James (Scotty) Philip ranch with its famous herd of wild buffalo. Perhaps we shouldn’t have used the word “famous” for it is not generally known -that this herd exists and America has been unusually tardy in recognizing the work of this man who succeeded in saving to the Dacotahs a herd of these “Kings of the Prairies” at a time when our sluggish government failed to act.
In the Saturday Evening Post of -December eleventh last, some name-less person used several pages of space in an article on the American bison under the caption “The Survivors,” and the writer gave just five lines to the Philip herd thus: “In South Dakota the estate of James Philip, according to the Bison Society, still owns eight hundred and twenty-five buffalo, that herd having largely increased on the open range in spite of all threats to cut down its numbers.” The unknown writer bases his article almost entirely on the Yellowstone Park herd of buffalo, and his five-line incidental mention of the Philip herd is in keeping with the publicity and recognition given the late “Scotty” Philip by the American press, although he did more than the government itself to save the American bison.
Many years ago Scotty Philip known from Mexico to Canada as “The Dakota Cattle King” acquired! a range of twenty thousand acres in – the hills along the Missouri River j near Fort Pierre. It took a special act of Congress to secure this immense range, but it was finally accomplished, and then Scotty stocked happen-his ranch with a few head of buffalo. When the Saturday Evening Post writer said “This herd has largely increased on the open range,” he struck the keynote in later day history of the American bison. For it is here, along, the old Missouri River, in the brakes and draws and on the rolling plains that stretch toward the river from the foothills, that the buffalo has thrived and increased; here, in his natural habitat, free from any attempt to domesticate him, the buffalo has maintained his ruggedness, his wariness, his independence, and his instinct to care for himself. Back, deep in the hills, where fresh water springs abound and the long buffalo-grass waves in luxuriant growth there the king buffalo leads his herd in winter. In April and May, the big “black glossy-coated mother works her way down to the plains below, the ungainly calf at her side. In contrast to its mother the coat of the calf is as fiery red as a stage-Irishman’s hair. In 1919 the increase of this herd numbered nearly two hundred calves. And 1919 was a dry, lean year, but on the plains the big herd stayed and the young buffalo grew fat. They skinned the short grass from the plains until a goat would starve to death there; back in the hills where the springs are, the long grass waved and beckoned, yet they clung to the plain until winter set in. Wise old buffalo! He knows what a winter on the Dakota prairie means, so he conserves his fodder where there is also shelter, and as the winter closes in the herd comes together and penetrates farther and farther into the deep brakes and draws, and then in the spring come the big black mothers with their fiery-red calves again.
When Scotty Philip died, some ten years ago, the herd numbered more than eight hundred, and the here maintained the herd at somewhere near the thousand mark. For several years past there has been an annual buffalo killing on the Philip range. This, with the sale of quite a number to the state of South Dakota for its mammoth hundred-thousand-acre State Park, and the disposition of other buffalo to cities and park commissions throughout the country, has disposed of the increase pretty well, keeping the herd at about the thousand mark.
But let us tell you about this I annual killing on the Philip range. Not since the early 80’s when the buffalo was still quite plentiful on the plains -has there been a buffalo slaughter to compare with that of December 1919. Never heard of it did you? Nope! The newspapers prefer murder stories to anything so tame as a buffalo killing. In one week commencing December 4th and ending on the 9th one hundred and forty-seven big buffalo were killed and shipped from the Philip ranch. In fourteen different states buffalo meat found its way to the table at Christmas time in many a home.
Thus have the heirs of the Philip estate been able to maintain the great range and buffalo herd. The meat of the buffalo brings a fancy price, for it is a real delicacy; the head for mounting is a thing of beauty and a wonderful trophy, and the coat well, the old timer of the plains will tell you the value and the dearth of a prime buffalo robe or coat. The 1919 killing was the largest ever attempted. There has been considerable criticism over this so-called buffalo slaughter. But the upkeep of a range of twenty thousand acres and the maintenance of a herd of practically one thousand wild buffalo is some undertaking. While the sentiment is as strong and the love of the buffalo as deep and sincere in the hearts of the sons and daughters of Scotty Philip as the sentiment that prompted the father to establish his great range and herd, there is a practical side to the proposition that must be met. The Christmas marketing of buffalo is simply a way of making ends meet, and even the big killing of 1919 did not reach in number the increase of that year. So the herd is growing and thriving and unless the government steps in and secures this last privately owned herd of American bison, annual Christmas killings will necessarily continue to take place at the Philip ranch.
This year something like ninety buffalo had been sold to meat markets in various cities throughout the Northwest states, and the killing was scheduled to start on the 14th of December . But owing to the open winter the above-zero weather that obtained until December 20th the killing was called off. All effort to secure refrigerator cars or any cars in fact that could be coupled onto passenger trains failed. The warm weather made shipment in freight cars impractical, so the orders for 1920 buffalo were cancelled and in all only eight buffalo were killed this year for shipment to nearby points, and by the eternal hornspoons we had the privilege of killing the first buffalo of the eight. And this is how it all happened:
Andy Leonard, whose wife is Hazel Philip, eldest daughter of the Buffalo King, spends several weeks each year placing orders for Christmas buffalo meat. He was just closing the season’s trip and was en route home to handle the shipments at the annual killing when he dropped inot our office at Bismarck on December 11th “If we can get cars for shipment we are going to start killing next week,” he said. “Come on down, Sam, and get a real thrill. Kill your own buffalo and get a trophy to hang up on your den wall here that will be a rarity in this “day.” He told us about last year’s big killing and before he left we had the fever in an advanced degree. We promised to be at Fort Pierre by Wednesday morning, the 15th. Leaving Bismarck, Monday, December 13th, we arrived at Fort Pierre at three o’clock Wednesday morning. Leonard met us at the station, showed us to a room where, we were advised to get a few winks before daylight, and we hadn’t time to stretch our train-weary legs before we were aroused and told to get into our shooting togs. We had a hurry-up breakfast and then with Andy and Mrs. Leonard we piled into a car and a half hour later we drew up at the Philip ranch home. At a spring just above the ranch house there were probably one hundred and fifty buffalo, mostly cows and calves. Away on the hillsides we could see other bunches of buffalo. But we didn’t have much time to enjoy scenery or dream of early frontier life. We soon discovered that a twentieth century buffalo hunt is all business. As we drew up to the house a young man stepped out to greet us. Bill Hart, Tom Mix, William Russell and all the other make-believe “cow boys” of the screen better look to their laurels if a real producer ever gets his yes on Stanley Philip. Straight as an arrow, six feet two inches tall, this twenty-eight year old lad is as fine a specimen of manhood as we have ever seen. And he fit into his clothes as though he belonged there. Booted and spurred, with leather chaps and wide sombrero, Stanley Philip looked the part a worthy descendant of the great Cattle King. But while we, were admiring Stanley arrangements for our big show developed rapidly.
“How about the cars, Andy?” queried Stanley. “Nothing doing yet; looks as though we will have to call it off,” answered Leonard. “Clark wants to kill his buffalo this morning, doesn’t he?” asked Stanley as he surveyed us. “Yep, he wants to get started home again tonight,” answered Andy. “Well,” continued Stanley, “I came down the ridge this morning and there is a big bull down the slope yonder. I think he is a good specimenwe’d better take a look at him. If not, there are five big fellows in the first draw east of that, but we’d better not disturb them unless it is necessary.” Stanley swung into the saddle without another word. Another fellow followed suit and they rode down the valley. Get in,” said Leonard, as he opened the car door. We got in and followed the two horsemen. After a few minutes” ride, Stanley reined in and waited for us. “There’s the one I saw this morning. Looks like a big fellow, doesn’t he?” “He’ll do,” muttered Andy as we surveyed him through the glass. Back to the house we went without a word. Arriving there we went into the lounging room where we seated our-self on a settee covered by a wonderful big buffalo robe and prepared to take it easy. Stanley appeared with two guns. He handed us a rifle that looked like a Roosevelt elephant gun. “That’s a 280 Ross,” he said. Then he produced five shells and showed us how to load the thing and how to work the bolt-action and switch the safety. “Ever handle one like that before?” asked Andy. “Nope,” was all we could say. Striding across the room to where a large bull head was suspended on the wall, Stanley said, “You hit ’em right here,” and he pointed to a spot on the neck of the animal. “You watch when he turns his head. He’ll look at us when we ride up on the opposite side. As he turns his head, the hair will part right here on the neck, leaving a fairly wide swath. Shoot him in that swath right behind the ear. We don’t shoot’em in the heart behind the left leg any more.” Those were our instructions, and within a minute we were starting on the hunt. Once not so very long ago we attempted to kill a coyote from the saddle of a bronco. When we fired, a piece of sky fell right down and hit us. When we came to, the guide told us that the “hoss bucked a bit.” We didn’t want to duplicate that experience and we did really want to kill that buffalo. So it was decided that the boys would ride down the ridge and start the buffalo for the plain. “When he realizes that there is something doing, he’ll start for the herd back there in the draws and it’s up to you to stop him,” someone told us. “You take Clark down there a ways in the car and then let him take it afoot,” said Stanley to Andy as he rode away. There was a lawyer friend from a neighboring town visiting the Philip’s, and he came along to see the slaughter. Another fellow drove a big truck slowly in the rear and his wife rode with him. This we afterward discovered was the butcher. There were others in fact we had quite a gallery as we started across the flat to meet our first wild buffalo.
Just visualize this scene for a minute if you can. Here we were a tenderfoot, a stranger in a strange land, with a strange gun and strange game to kill. We had not been at the ranch more than forty minutes; we had arrived in the town only about seven hours before. And here we were starting out afoot across the plain to meet a buffalo bull. We asked Stanley before he started if someone wasn’t going to take the other gun but he explained that if we depended on anyone else we might not do so well. So away we went and the next thing we knew we were walking away from the car toward the place where we had last seen the bull. A lot of things probably happened in the next five minutes that we didn’t notice or know about. It’s all just a little bit hazy as we try to recall it. But we remember firing a shot, then another, then another all in fairly rapid succession and the big bull ” didn’t act as though he knew we were even shooting his way. The boys rode like the very devil to head the bull close to us. But that ungainly gait of the buffalo is very deceiving. Ride as they would, none of the horses were fleet enough to keep up with the buffalo. Stanley yipped like a night-rider and waved his hat. The big bull didn’t seem to realize that a mighty hunter with a gun that felt like a French forty-five was bombarding him. He looked at the riders bear down on him. It was only about sixty yards this time perhaps less than that. We could see the spot Stanley had pointed out on the big neck. And we didn’t want to spoil the hide or head. Don’t know whether we saw the sights on the gun or not, but we pulled, and down went the big bull killed outright on the fourth shot. We’ve wondered since what would have happened if we had missed that fourth shot. We only had five in the gun, remember, and that fact was on our mind. The chances are good that we wouldn’t have waited to fire the last one. And the best that bull could have hoped for in the race would be second place.
We are not just clear on what transpired after this. We remember the butcher came running up and stuck the animal. We walked over to where we had left the car and got out our kodak, for we wanted a picture. We never could load a kodak gracefully, but somehow on this occasion we did an awful lot of fumbling. Of course we were not a bit nervous. Hadn’t we just killed a big buffalo bull! Somebody said we acted like a veteran. But we didn’t feel like one. We didn’t feel a bit sorry for that dead bull, yet it wouldn’t have taken much to make us cry. By the time we sapped a film or two, the dressing of the buffalo was well under way. An examination showed that we had hit the big fellow three times out of the four shots. One bullet went through the hump well toward the the top. Another missed the vital spot in the neck by about three inches. It was low. Then the fourth shot was just where the expert would have placed it. It was in the exact spot Stanley had told us to put it. But how in hell we ever put it there will always be a bit hazy in our memory. An hour later we were back at the ranch home of the Philips’. Here we sat down to a wonderfully prepared chicken dinner, served by the kindly Mrs. Philip and her daughter, Mrs. Leonard. And during the dinner and for many hours afterward we talked buffalo and learned many interesting tales of frontier days. Later in the day when we had returned to the little city of Fort Pierre, we met Roderick Philip, a handsome athletic chap of twenty-four, another worthy descendant of the famous Cattle King Scotty Philip. We will never forget our visit with these open-hearted people at the Philip ranch and will always be indebted to them for an experience and a privilege that comes to few me in this day a buffalo hunt. No doubt many of the thrills that the plainsman of long ago experienced in a buffalo hunt were lacking, but we don’t mind telling you that when we saw that bison bull put his head down and start across country with an occasional glance our way, he looked like caterpillar tank and just about one more degree of thrill would have found us yelling “Kamerad” in dead earnest.
Jim Jam Junior.
The Miami News
Miami Florida Oct 9, 1925
GREAT BUFFALO “KILL” SLATED FOR S. DAKOTA
Head of Phillips Ranch Says Noted Hunters Will Take Part
PONCA CITY, Okla., Oct 9. –
The final and biggest buffalo kill, the greatest to occur since the active days on the plains of Buffalo Bill and Will Bill Hickok, is to be held this autumn almost within sight of the battlefield where was perpetrated the Custer massacre.
Announcement of this big hunt has been brought here by A. H. Leonard, president of the “Scotty” Phillips buffalo ranch near Fort Pierre, S. D. For a number of years the Phillips herd, built up from a small nucleus, has had the distinction of being the largest in the world, and it still comprises nearly 1,000 head. For some time, however, the ranch owners have been depleting the herd, many being sold and others under contract now to be shipped, and it is for this reason that Mr. Leonard announces the final big kill, although there have been annual hunts held there for a period of years.
On the Phillips ranch but 20 miles distant from the Custer battlefield, these buffalo are ranging on a 20,000-acre tract, and there the hunt is to be held. Mr. Leonard has only recently sold several hundred head to the Miller brothers of the 101 Ranch, near Ponca City, and is here in conference with the Millers in regard to additional shipments. Some of these are to go to the ranch at Cimarron, N. M of Waite Phillips, the Oklahoma oil magnate. Another shipment went to the William Randolph Hearst ranch at San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Mr. Leonard estimates that fully 230 buffalo will be killed during the hunt that is to be staged from November 20 to December 14. The carcasses of some of these already have been contracted for, and will be frozen and shipped to various parts of the country for the Christmastide feasts. One Pittsburgh man is to obtain a carload of this meat for the holidays, and, other shipments are to go to cities in the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, North and South Dakota, Michigan, Indiana, Indiana, Ohio, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Kentucky, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Colorado and Montana.
“In fact,” says Mr. Leonard, “there will be more persons throughout the United States eating buffalo meat this coming Christmas than ever before, even during the early plains period of this country, when there were countless thousands of these shaggy animals on the Western range.”
Some of the most prominent men of the nation are to take in this big buffalo kill. There will be at least 75 present, says Leonard, as he has received word from all parts of America. These also will include numerous well known big game hunters, men who are desirous of having this opportunity of taking a shot at the buffalo.
“To get a dead shot at a bison,” says Mr. Leonard, “he must be struck behind the ear, about three inches back and one inch below the horns. High-powered rifles always are used, and it is sure a thrill to kill a 1,600-pound animal during a bunt.”
The breaking up of the “Scotty” Phillips herd has become necessary. Mr. Phillips died a number of years ago. At times it has been a difficult matter to take care of the animals properly in the winter period. “Scotty” Phillips corralled about 20 wild buffalo back in the early 70’s and the big herd today is the increase from that few. Naturally _____ranchmen interested the propagation of the buffalo are taking advantage of the opportunity to buy from the Phillips herd, either increasing the herds they already have, as is the case with the 101 Ranch, or starting a new herd entirely, as is being done by William Randolph Hearst and Waite Phillips.
The killing and shipment of buffalo meat, providing the people of various states with such a treat at Christmas time, form a very interesting program, according to Mr. Leonard.
“Scotty” Phillips always maintained, asserted Mr. Leonard that the building of the first railroad to the Pacific was made possible at so early a date because the buffalo existed. From the mighty herds .the army of railroad builders drew their daily supplies of fresh meat, and thousands of animals were slaughtered for food annually while the work of laying rails was pushed forward. For a few years in the 70s the railroads did an enormous business carrying trainloads of buffalo hides and bones, which for a period formed the principal commercial product of the plains. Many settlers, beset by crop failures, gathered bones and sold them to make a living.
The best meat obtainable in the early day frontier towns was buffalo. The markets of such places as Atchison, Atchison, Topeka, Leavenworth and other Kansas towns, as early as 1857 and for some years following, were often supplied with buffalo meat. The hump upon the shoulders was an especially choice morsel, as was also the tongue. Rich, juicy steaks and roasts of the buffalo were unexcelled. Thousands of tongues were dried and shipped east to the Boston and New York markets, where they were in great demand and brought fancy prices.
The sale of buffalo hides reached vast proportions in the ’70s. In St. Louis one firm bought 250,000 skins in 1871. There were many trading posts dealing in these and smaller peltries. In Cheyenne, in 1872, there was a shed at the Union Pacific tracks that measured 175 by 60 feet and 30 feet high that was literally so packed with buffalo hides that the walls bulged. Fort Benton, Mont., sent .80,000 buffalo hides to market in 1876.
Toward the end of the ’60s the buffalo had divided into two great herds the southern and northern. The great southern herd was the first to go, being practically extinct at the close of 1872. The northern herd virtually became extinct in the early 80s. The greatest slaughter of the animals took place 1872-73-74,, when the number slain ran into the millions.