he W4ooar brothers, uff/alo
TIKE THE HARDY NEW ENGLAND WHALERS of an earlier day, the
S hunters of the buffaloes were mighty men. On the bleak
SWestern plains they outlasted blizzards and sandstorms and,
in most instances, outshot or outwitted the redskins who wanted
their scalps. Usually the hunter was a young but grizzled and
uncouth fellow, itchy with tiny crawlers out of the piles of hides
about his camp. Yet he knew how to dodge the charge of a
wounded buffalo bull, and he used his heavy rifle with a preci-
sion that even a Prussian field marshal would have admired. At
the bar of a frontier outpost, when his work was done, he could
outdrink even the thirstiest cowpuncher.
Rightly the buffalo hunter has taken his place among the heroic
figures of the early West. He was so pictured by John Steuart
Curry in his striking murals in the Kansas capitol and by Harold
D. Bugbee in his equally impressive ones in the Panhandle-Plains
Historical Museum at Canyon, Texas.
This stubbly-faced rifleman was one of a long line of rugged
pioneers who tamed the West. He followed the missionary, the
explorer, the fur trader. He went ahead of the cowman and the
settler. By clearing the plains of their almost boundless herds of
shaggies, he made way for the ranchman with his cattle or sheep.
By depriving the hostile Plains Indian of his chief source of food,
garb, and shelter, he starved him into submission to the whites.
Although the hunting of buffaloes for robes, meat, or sport had
been going on longer than anyone could remember, the era of the
professional hide men was brief. It began after tanners learned
how to make good leather from buffalo skins. It lasted only a
dozen years, 1871-1883, seldom more than four years in any given
section of the plains. Yet that was long enough to slaughter the
enormous herds that had darkened the broad grazing lands of the
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 63, July 1959 - April, 1960. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101186/. Accessed December 10, 2013.