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Description of an Exciting Buffalo Hunt


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Ladies Take an Active Part in the Sport.

Published in the New York Times / July 27, 1871

CHARLES B. MATTHEWS, formerly of Buffalo, but now a resident of Kansas, in a letter to the Western New-Yorker, gives an account of a buffalo hunt, participated in by himself and wife and Mr. WHEELER, formerly of Lockport, and wife, from which we make the following extract:

"An hour more and our eyes were gladdened by seeing fifty or sixty buffaloes, which proved to be the outside skirmish line. We drove in the pickets, and in doing so we reached the summit of an eminence, from which point we believe we could distinctly see through the clear air for the distance of fifteen or twenty miles, and all the vast expanse of smooth prairie from the river back as far as the eye could reach, was completely black with buffaloes, and how much further the innumerable throng extended beyond our vision we could not tell. But without the telescope all efforts of ours to comprehend their vastness would prove utterly futile. At all events here is an abundance of game, and we are after them.

"The ladies being anxious to participate in the sport, Mrs. MATTHEWS took the reins, and Mr. WHEELER and myself each took our carbines in hand, and we then drove slowly down the slope until within forty yards of the nearest squad, when an old fellow started toward the wagon. At first we thought him coming to pay his compliments to the ladies, but soon he started on a full run toward the river. I then fired on him, giving him a wound which greatly retarded his movements. The ladies then took the guns and we drove a little nearer, when a shot or two form them made him 'shuffle off this mortal coil.'

"This affair, which, to us, was full of excitement and interest, was scarcely noticed by the buffaloes near by, but by this time ourselves and ponies became so greatly excited that off we dashed for the herd, and just before we reached them they parted a little, so that as we entered their ranks we got good broadside shots at a distance of from ten to fifteen rods, and on we rushed like the wind. The ladies drove while Mr. WHEELER and myself fired almost as fast as we could pull the trigger. We were so near them we could see the color of their eyes and distinctly hear the balls as they struck them. But driving at such a rate we could take no accurate aim and as only a ball through the heart or lungs or one breaking the back bone will stop a buffalo, we had gone nearly a mile before we brought one down.

"Our ponies now being quite out of breath, we stopped and examined him closely. He was one of the largest of the heard, and his head and neck were covered with black hair from four to six inches in length, and from the shoulders back the body was without hair. This buffalo(as well as all others at this season of the year) was perfectly hideous in appearance. I should think a good, large buffalo like this would weight at least 1,500 pounds. The shape and general appearance of the buffalo is so well understood by all that I need not speak further on the subject.

"It now being about noon we went a short distance, built a fire and cooked some of our fresh-killed meat, which we relished very much. As soon as ourselves and ponies were well fed we started off, and in an hour we were again among the buffaloes. In the afternoon we had several very animated races with them, each time killing some. For some distance our ponies could outrun them, but for a long run it would be safer to bet on the buffalo.

"I think we killed none but males, as they take the outside of the herd, hence you do not see the cows and calves until you get pretty well into the herd. During all noise and commotion occasioned by our chasing and firing, there were thousands and thousands of buffaloes in sight of us that kept feeding as quietly as if all was well, but regarding our performance as not worth noticing. Their numbers were so great that we seemed to be skirmishing a little among their suburbs."

 

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