THE BUFFALO HUNTERS
By Edith Jackson Finch, daughter of Peter Jackson
Fanning the Embers, ? 1971, Range Rider Reps, Miles City, Montana
The famous buffalo hunter of all times was William F. Cody. In 1867-68 he supplied fresh buffalo meat to railroad workers who laid the track for the Kansas Pacific Railroad. By his own count he killed 4,280 of the great animals within a 17 month period. Thus he gained his nickname, Buffalo Bill Cody.
One old buffalo hunter told me the following story:
He said, "The buffalo herd we hunted reached from a creek called Froze-to-death on the east end of the Bull Mountains on the west to a point on the Red Water River north of Glendive on the east. That was a distance of 150 to 200 miles in an area that was north of the Yellowstone River, between it and the Missouri."
"There were buffalo hunters all over that country. Some of them lived in dugouts in the sides of creek banks. Others leaned poles against the sides of rock bluffs and covered them with green hides, or anything to make a shelter from the weather."
"Once, I saw seven boats loading at one time, to say nothing of the barges that were being towed by the boats. I saw women in the hunter's field. I watched young girls 16 to 18 years old do a man's work. They took the hide off a buffalo almost as fast as any man could."
"In 1881 the buffalo did not come back to where they wintered the previous year. I never heard of a big herd after that, here, where they had roamed by thousands before."
"After a few discharges from the buffalo guns, the hunters had to clean out the gun barrels. They made their shells of about 100 grains of powder and wadding and a bullet. They kept them on hand for reloading.
'After the hunt and skinning, the meat was hauled to town, dried, and sold according to class."
"Jim McNaney, buffalo hunter and frontiersman, killed one of the finest specimans ever known. It was a monster buffalo and was killed on the Peter Jackson home territory on the Little Porcupine Creek."
"Dr. William T. Hornaday, who visited this section of the country in December of 1886, procured the head and hide and had them mounted. Artists, working for the government, used it in designing one of the most famous coins ever made -- the Buffalo Nickel."
"The buffalo robes were in great demand. The hides used for this were at their prime from November to March. The 'Beaver Robe' was a fine fur of rich brown color. It was the most valuable robe on the market. The 'White Robe' or 'Pied Robe' was very rare, too. Very few white buffalo were ever seen by the white hunters. The 'Silk Robe' was from a three year old calfless cow. It was extremely valuable. The 'Buckskin Robe' had little value. It was a dirty cream color. One such robe did sell for $200 in 1882. The 'Blue Robe' was dark gray and quite rare. The 'Black Robe' was the most common one, and least expensive."
My visit with the old hunter came to an end. In farewell, he said, "Shoot straight, not only with a rifle but in living, too!"
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