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Buffalo Hunt, 1871

Buffalo were still relatively plentiful in western Nebraska in the early 1870s, and Nebraskans from more settled areas often went on hunting excursions. The exploits of a party of hunters from the Seward-Hamilton County area were reported in the January 5, 1871, edition of the Blue Valley Record (Milford), on file at the Nebraska State Historical Society. The hunters proceeded to the Republican Valley, where they encountered Pawnee Indians also hunting buffalo.

During the early days of the hunt, the men had to compete with the Pawnees. At first the Indians told the white hunters to leave the area, "but the boys 'didn't scare worth a cent.'" Then the Pawnees invited the whites to help shoot buffaloes that the Indians had surrounded, but the Pawnees "always managed to get an arrow into the animals which the boys would single out, and when it was brought down, would claim it."

One of the hunters, "Buckskin Charlie" White of Hamilton County, found a certain buffalo to be a tough and elusive quarry:

"White, Smith, and Babcock were out. The former shot a buffalo, but upon nearing the animal it raised and plunged at him; he shot him again, in the head, but it did not take effect; by this time he was so near that White placed the muzzle of his gun against the animal's head and fired; but this only tended to infuriate him. White fell to the ground to evade the animal, which made a lunge at him and struck the ground within a foot of where he lay. The buffalo made another lunge, but White rolled slightly and he struck over. By this time Smith and Babcock had come up. Smith shot and staggered the buffalo and a shot from Babcock brought him down, thus saving the life, perhaps, of a human being."

The party hunted for a little over a week, and killed about 250 buffaloes and several antelopes, although the editor did not say how many hunters were involved.

(November 1996)



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