Old West

Book of the Week: The Buffalo Hunters

What do the following western personalities all have in common?:

James “Wild Bill” Hickok, Lonesome Charley Reynolds, Bill Comstock, Buffalo Bill Cody, Billy Dixon, Frank Collinson, Bat Masterson, Pat Garret, California Joe, John Mooar, W.F. “Doc” Carver, Charlie Rath, Charlie Myers, Emanuel Dubbs, Johnny Cook, & many others.

They were all professional buffalo hunters at various times in their lives.

THE BUFFALO HUNTERS is a marvelous book by Mari Sandoz. Mari Sandoz wrote a great deal about life on the plains & its history. She is probably best known for her books CHEYENNE AUTUMN and CRAZY HORSE.

This book weaves the lives of the hunters, Indians, settlers, and soldiers around the methodical hunt of the buffalo. Without the buffalo there wouldn’t be the colorful tapestry that is the history of the plains. Many of the hunters went on to be army scouts, gunslingers, lawmen, ranchers, outlaws, entertainers, and businessmen.  Many of them also died on the plains, some  beside unnamed creek beds & some at famous places like the Little Big Horn.

In 1867 the total number of buffalo on the plains was estimated to be over 15 million. At the end of Indian hostilities in 1890, there were only a few hundred left. For better or worse, the hunting of the buffalo opened up much of the west for settlement. For better or worse, the hunting of the buffalo helped end the plains Indian wars.

Mari Sandoz brings the plains alive like no other writer. I have several of her books & have yet to be disappointed. You can find more information about her life & writing at the website of the Mari Sandoz Heritage Society