Here’s your BUFFALO STORY OF THE WEEK!
If you have a roomful of eager 7th or 8th graders-just waiting to hear a buffalo story– great!
And if you don’t–well tell this one to your Dad or Mom–or someone at work or the Senior Center who has a soft spot in their heart for buffalo.
You can brighten their day. And brighten your own with the telling and the chuckle you both can share.
Please share your favorite (true) buffalo story with us. We’d love to hear it.
Write it here and email to email@example.com.
Returning to Washington, after their great success in buffalo hunting, William Hornaday and his assistants set to work.
Hornaday’s vision developed before he even left Montana. This would be a grouping of bulls, cows and calves. He took time to collect some native soil, a few plants and sagebrush.
He selected six prime specimens—his masterpiece stub-horn bull, cows, calves, a young bull.
After a full year they unveiled their masterpiece. There, in a huge glass case, visitors to the Smithsonian Museum viewed an enchanting scene–six buffalo in an authentic Montana setting.
The Washington Star described the exhibit on March 10, 1888:
By 1883 the vast herds of buffalo had entirely vanished. Only a small pocket survived here and there in remote areas—and even these, as soon as any hunter learned of them, did not last long.
Clearly the buffalo would soon be extinct as a species.
Alarmed, William Hornaday, as the Chief Taxidermist at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC—America’s greatest museum—took stock of his museum’s buffalo inventory.
Samuel Walking Coyote of the Pend d’Oreille tribe had no intention of raising buffalo—he just wanted to hunt them. But there were no buffalo west of the Continental Divide where he lived with his Flathead wife on her reservation in western Montana. Yet Walking Coyote...
Wild bison will return to the United Kingdom for the first time in thousands of years, with the release of a small herd near Canterbury in East Kent planned for spring 2022, according to the Guardian, July 10, 2020.
The Steppe Bison went extinct about 10,000 years ago. Now the UK is bringing back their nearest relative—the European Bison or Wisent (Bison bonasus), also known as the zubr—in the hope of restoring the area’s ancient woodlands.
The $1.4 million Wilder Blean project, to reintroduce the animals, will help secure the future of an endangered species. They will also naturally regenerate a former pine wood plantation by killing off trees. This is expected to create a healthy mix of woodland, scrub and glades, boost insect, bird and plant life.
Populations of the UK’s most important wildlife have dropped an average of 69% since 1970. Britain is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world, despite the best efforts of conservationists.
One of the men attracted to Michel Pablo’s grand roundup of his near-wild buffalo was Norman A. Forsyth, a young photographer who began selling stereo cards and viewers door-to-door while attending college at Wesleyan University in Lincoln, Nebraska.
After college he moved west, still selling for Underwood and Underwood, an early producer and distributor of stereographic views. Attracted by the scenic beauty of Yellowstone Park, Forsyth worked as a tour guide and stage driver in Yellowstone five summers, taking scenic stereographic views along the way, and then set up a photography studio in Butte where he sold them.
Fascinated by what he read of Michel Pablo’s great roundup of near-wild bison he took his cameras to Ronan, MT. There he made friends with Charlie Russell, a cowboy painter also attracted to the dramatic buffalo action they saw every day.
Forsyth shot stereographic views and Russell painted and sketched numerous scenes over the first three summers during which the Pablo buffalo roundup shipped most of the animals to Canada.
One day Forsyth scrambled down into some trees to get the perfect shot as the cowboy wranglers brought in a herd of buffalo across the river toward the corrals.
E.J. (‘Bud’) Cotton was the Buffalo Park Warden at Wainwright, Alberta from 1912 through 1940. An old-fashioned buffalo handler who rode hard and worked his crew hard, he preferred to change their lathered-up horses at noon if at all possible.
Cotton hired a hard-riding Buffalo Roundup Gang—as he called them for “fall” roundup, which they tackled in stride during the coldest days of winter.
Long before the advent of low-stress handling practices were being advocated for buffalo, the buffalo herds were literally wild animals, and they came stampeding between the drift fences toward the open gate at a dead run.
Cotton said his corral fences looked strong enough to hold an elephant “but just stick around until we run a bunch of buffalo into them, then watch the splinters fly!”
When worked, the thousands of buffalo they corralled and manhandled bore some scars—but so did the riders, he wrote. Even years later the men “still bear scars and sore bones as mementos of those same good old days.”
In another unusual rescue, a Blackfoot Indian reported seeing a buffalo bull charge a grizzly bear that had attacked a heifer.
The grizzly was lying in wait, hidden by a trail near a creek when a small bunch of buffalo trailed down to drink. Led by a young buffalo heifer, they came down the bank in single file.
As the heifer passed under the clay shelf where the grizzly hid, he reached down with both paws and caught her around the neck, then leaped on her back. She struggled to escape.
Buffalo bulls are born with a strong sense of responsibility.
The “noble fathers,” as they’ve been called in earlier times, for protecting mothers and calves from the ravages of wolves. In blizzards and fierce storms, it was said, they form a triangle facing into the wind and shield cows and calves from wintery blasts.
I saw those “noble fathers” in action once myself.
We were riding horseback in the North Unit of Teddy Roosevelt Park with some friends.
According to all accounts, the Indian horses were better trained for the job than those of white hunters, reported William Hornaday. He credited this to the fact that shooting with bow and arrows required free use of both hands.
This was only possible when the horse took the right course of its own free will and as guided by knee pressure alone, held close to the buffalo during a charge.
“Indeed,” he wrote, “in running buffalo with only the bow and arrow, nothing but the willing cooperation of the horse could have possibly made this mode of hunting successful.
During the fall rut—or breeding season—huge wild herds of buffalo came together on the plains.
Descriptions often had it that the hills were “black with buffalo as far as the eye could see.”
Explorers and travelers often tried to describe and estimate how many buffalo they could see from a single vantage point.
On viewing a large herd of cattle one day, a Canadian named John McDougall was amazed to learn there were 23,000 head in the herd before him. He said that cattle herd in one small valley was far smaller than the immense buffalo herds he’d seen spread out over a dozen hills and flats in the plains.