View Full Version : Buffalo Hunt

07-16-2010, 09:35 PM
I was fortunate enough to have drawn a Buffalo tag for the National Elk Refuge here in Wyoming( Actually I think all who applied got one).I can think of no finer place to be in late October with the Tetons in the background and with my son.I do not know what sex/age I will be shooting as they will assign that when I show up for the orientation the day before the hunt.
It appears there are 900 Buffalo on the refuge and managers want to reduce the population to 500.Animals rights groups effectively shut down last years hunt but it is back on the books and will happen.
I have always wanted to shoot a Buffalo with one of my two 1874 Shiloh Sharps.
#1 rifle #1 Sporter fancy wood/bells whistles,my prized posession in 45-70-30" octogon barrel. I have shot this rifle alot, it shoots 69grs of Swiss 1.5 540gr PJ 45001 into 1 ragged hole @100 yds. and has been known to clear the ram line at the Sacto range in CA. The rifle and I, are at one with each other.
#2 rifle #1 Sporter with one Shiloh option, shotgun butt plate other wise very plain jane( for Shiloh) 32" half round half octogon in 40-70 SS. I have this rifle shooting nearly as well as rifle #1 with 410 gr Lyman Snover 65grs Swiss 1.5. I have been playing with a Steve Brooks adjustable paper patch mold and load development is in the works.Preliminary results have been promising with groups2-3" @ 100yds with full case of Swiss 1.5 and 360 gr. pure lead bullet wrapped to bore dia. and onion skin paper.
Rifle #1 does not have barrel sights rifle #2 has Shiloh's full buckhorn,Rifle #1 has MVA aperature front sight rifle #2 has the full blown fancy windage adjustable aperature front sight, I thought this necessary with the .40 cal bullet, I have never moved it off zero[smilie=b:. I have 2 MVA Soule sights medium and long range fitted with MVA Magum eye cup.
The 40-70 SS with the barrel sights and small round aperature wil keep every thing inside 4-5" with the paper patch bullets ,half that with 410gr Snovers.
With the information here what rifle would you use,If given a choice I would like to a shoot a medium bull,dang there big.
All of my shots will be in the <150yd range

07-16-2010, 11:38 PM
All I can say is Id like to be there with you! best of luck. when you conect hope theres a crane handy to help load DR

07-17-2010, 11:48 PM
I hope it's as wonderful an experience as it sounds it will be! I've not shot a buffalo (ate a big chunk of bison tenderloin tonight, though-), but I'd go with the .45-70. For some real-world experiences, check out the Shiloh forum, or join up and send a PM to "Redneck."

smoked turkey
07-18-2010, 12:54 PM
This is a great thread and very interesting. I have a buffalo hunt with my two sons on my bucket list. I would love to be there. I don't have a Sharps, but it is the thing to take if you have one. I would probably take my Ruger No. 1 in 45/70 if I were going. Is there any way an out of stater can get in on the drawing? Thanks.
Smoked Turkey

Don McDowell
07-18-2010, 03:37 PM
This is a great thread and very interesting. I have a buffalo hunt with my two sons on my bucket list. I would love to be there. I don't have a Sharps, but it is the thing to take if you have one. I would probably take my Ruger No. 1 in 45/70 if I were going. Is there any way an out of stater can get in on the drawing? Thanks.
Smoked Turkey

Go to the Wyoming Game and Fish Web site , you'll find the info for getting on the list. Problem is when they call you have 48hrs to get there or you forfiet your spot.

smoked turkey
07-18-2010, 04:56 PM
Thanks for the info. I went to the site and found it is a very nice site, well organized, and simply packed full of information. I am not sure what to do with it all. I have their phone number, so I will query them tomorrow to see what the possibilities are. I have never done anything like this before so I am a "greenhorn" in the process. I am not sure how my two boys can work with the time frame of 48 hours. Probably not too good. I am going to check on it anyway. Thanks.

Don McDowell
07-18-2010, 05:52 PM
If you go back to the website, and look in the nonresident biggame application booklet, the process will be explained there.
You send in the fee for the drawing to be placed on the list, then if you're put on the list and they call you , you pay the 2500 (400 for residents) fee when you get to the hunt orientation.

MT Chambers
07-18-2010, 08:43 PM
Well I've shot Bufflers up here in Canada, with my '74 Sharps 50/90, and i would suggest that it doesn't matter so much on the caliber but, longish(is that a word?), flatpoints, cast very soft, work best. You should also remember that the heart and other vitals sit very low in the chest/brisket, and it is very easy(just ask me) to shoot them too high, and only get lungs, and then they don't die quickly and can cover a lot of ground or they just keep eating.

smoked turkey
07-18-2010, 11:47 PM
Thanks for the info on the buffalo hunt. I went to the web site and checked it out. This hunt will have to be something I always wanted to do and never got to do due to the expense. At $2500 it leaves me out. Especially since I wanted to take my two sons. I was hoping the cost was in the three digit catagory. I envy you guys who get to do it. I love the west. It is some of the most beautiful country to be seen any where. I am able to hunt here with my sons and grandson. We enjoy the time together and have managed to harvest several deer off my place. I just wanted to close the loop by getting back to you and thank you for your help.

Don McDowell
07-18-2010, 11:55 PM
It's plenty spendy, but even at the nonresident rate comes out about the same as most "buffalo ranches"
I don't care much for buffalo, so haven't bothered with these hunts. Much prefer my own beef, unless I get lucky and find and shoot an elk ..

07-19-2010, 05:45 PM
I have considered the need of helicopter(not sure it would do it) to retrieve one from afield.I have recieved some info from one of the outfitters in the area that use these gorgeous horse teams to retrieve "buffler".I have their number in my pocket.[smilie=6:

L Ross
07-20-2010, 09:44 AM
Longranger, congrats on getting the opportunity. I have been fortunate enough to have gone on 4 buffalo hunts with several other hunters including my wife. Of the 23 buffalo, (all cows), I have seen killed and helped butcher the following calibers were used. 12 bore flint lock trade gun, 56-50 Spencer, 30-30, 40-70 SS, 40-65 Win., 45-70, 45-90, 45-75 Win., 50-70. We rarely recover a bullet . Flat nose seems to make a slightly bigger wound channel. Hitting the heart is key to a quick kill. Wounded in the lights often results in other animals from the herd surrounding the wounded animal and making getting in a finisher difficult, until they lose interest and wander off, sometimes the wounded animal goes with them. Hit the heart and it is over in 30 seconds, often less. Do not try to use a target front sight, please. We advised our friends against using their target front sights and those that ignored the advice later regretted their decision. Put a silver front blade sight on and use whatever rear sight allows you to hit a gallon milk jug every time at whatever range you can, the 150 yards you mentioned should work out fine as that is the farthest we'll shoot 'em.
Once when I was asked to come on a hunt on short notice I took my loaded target ammo and using a 4 in hand wood rasp filed off the noses until I had a .375 meplat, test fired them at 100 yards, they were as good a grouper as the unmodified noses, only hit an inch lower. That flat nose killed very quickly.

Good luck,


07-20-2010, 10:02 AM
Awesome that's the info I was looking for,an experineced "Buffler hunter" I have done what you suggested as far filing the nose of the bullet.
I will heed your advice and remove my aperature sight and remount the stock silver blade front sight.I have enough time to make one of those Indian head penny sights,I have heard they are the "cats meow" for low light.
Thank you

07-20-2010, 11:04 AM
We have one hard fast rule for our buffalo hunts, the cartridge must start with the number 4 and have a flat nose. L Ross is very correct in his observations. And please practice from field positions, you fight like you train. The idiots that always shoot from a bench are completly useless in the field and the animals end up suffering. We now have decided and tell the clients, you get a shot or two. If we think we need to step in and put it down, we will. I am tired of chasing three legged buffalo and really love my 416 Taylor for putting a cow down now. The 505 Gibbs works really well on cows or bulls, we just dont hunt very many bulls anymore, too expensive.

Don McDowell
07-20-2010, 08:14 PM
I guess buff must be like elk they've gotten tuffernwhang leather in the last 20 someodd years. My cousin worked for Buddy Cramer out of Bosler for several years and they swore by a 22 magnum behind the ear......

07-20-2010, 10:12 PM
I guess buff must be like elk they've gotten tuffernwhang leather in the last 20 someodd years. My cousin worked for Buddy Cramer out of Bosler for several years and they swore by a 22 magnum behind the ear......

An' if ya hit 'em JUST right that's enough.
Problem is, seldom can a fella walk up to 'em and tickle 'em behind the ear.
I useta buy beef from a farmer. He complained to me "These cows are too hard to kill! I like 'em to drop right away, an' they get all riled up and full of adrenaline when I shoot 'em!"
I asked what he was using and doing. He replied that he was using a .22, shooting them right between the eyes!
I bet a lot of 'em didn't even have a bullet in the brain! They were probably mad as hell, gettin' a whack on the forehead!
I told him next time it was time to kill to call me.
I brought my .44 Redhawk. It was more'n enough gun, but I wanted to make sure and grant the farmer's request. 'Sides, I was gettin' some of the meat.
So I whacked him right between the eyes from about 3 feet with a 240SWC I cast. The steer flopped upside down so quick he literally went all four hoofs straight up!
Farmer jumped the fence and slit his throat. I near got sick. I have never seen so much blood come out of a critter.
From then on I did all the kills.
My only point is, you gotta have both enough gun and the right shot. Neither one is enough all by itself.
P.S The guys on the kill truck know all the tricks, too......

07-20-2010, 11:57 PM
I have a friend who runs bison hunts on a ranch down by Dillon, Mt. He has seen most of the dangerous game type cartridges used, and many of them fail miserably. He says the most reliable, and what he uses, is a .50-90.
If you get a buf, and you get a choice, take a cow. Otherwise your jaws will have to grow extra muscles to chew the burger.

07-21-2010, 01:16 AM
Although I never had the chance to try my .50-2.5" Sharps' on Wood Bison in the far North, I CAN testify that the .404 Jeffery with 400-grain Barnes Originals is utterly, absolutely crushing on big bison, all the way out to 200 yards, which is the distance at which I killed the biggest bull I EVER expect to see. I proved the cartridge's capability to my own satisfaction on many bison.

By extension, anything else in the same ballpark (over.40, over 400 grains, over 2000 fps) can be supposed to fall into the same category....WITH GOOD BULLETS.

I will certainly agree with the proven history of the big blackpowder rounds, but anyone who thinks the African numbers are somehow inferior on bison is smoking something not available across the counter.....again, with GOOD bullets selected for the job. One of the great strengths of the 1880s-style ammo is that those heavy lead bullets ARE about perfect, with no selection really required except for weight. This is not so when the higher speeds and stresses of the smokeless rounds enter the picture.

One advantage of the smokeless rounds is their flatter trajectories, which even with as little as 2000 fps make accurate 200-yard shooting possible....but without the charcoal smoke, of course! I did carry that Shiloh .50 on a week's moose hunt up-and-down in the Mackenzie Mountains....my daily ammo load-out was down to about six rounds by the time that purgatory ended.

Don McDowell
07-21-2010, 09:38 AM

One advantage of the smokeless rounds is their flatter trajectories, which even with as little as 2000 fps make accurate 200-yard shooting possible.

Anybody worth their salt can make the bp cartridges shoot right with any smokeless cartridge ever built not only at 200yd but take that right on out to 1000 and beyond.

07-21-2010, 10:24 AM
My father taught me years ago as a wee lad that we do not shoot running animals,rear facing animals,and frontal shots.Standing broadside is always acceptable at the appropriate distance for your gun/cartridge/ability.
I have shot both of my Shiloh's in every position that will give me the best possible shot.I am prepared to eat a tag,god knows I have ate many a tag because I could not get the shot I wanted to make a clean humane kill.
If I use the 40-70 SS I will heed the advice of 400gr + bullet.
Re -looked up the the thread at the Shiloh forum on making a Indian penny front sight.Bought a whole roll of Indian head pennies mixed with wheat backs for $8.00 off e-bay.It has at least one Indian head in the roll [smilie=l:.
I will spend more time preparing for this hunt than any other.I understand there is a good possibilty of media attention on the bison hunt.Wyoming Fish and Game has prepared a very informative packet on our responsiblity to present ourselves not as blood thirsty murderers,but ethical and responsible hunters performing a natural act of harvesting excess animals.
Mr. McDowell, you are in there with Mr. Mulhern, solid,experienced wisdom,thank you sir, the rest who responded with helpful experience, it is all being absorbed,tried and considered,I have no desire to use a smokeless rifle so those considerations are not in my process of putting it all together.

07-21-2010, 11:12 AM

I daresay I've shot blackpowder Sharps' rifles as long as most of those on this Forum, and I SAID that I have great respect for the rifles, cartridges, and history of the art. My current-day Shiloh has a low-4-digit serial number and came to me in 1980 from Farmington. (In fact, look at my avatar!) I also daresay I've killed more bison than most. What I took exception to, was the statement that more-modern cartridges (yeah...my .404 dates back to 1912) are somehow inferior to the smokewagons. Not so.

Note the phrase "WOOD BISON". The lovely photos of bison-hunting posted from here in the lower 48 show expanses of open prairie stretching literally miles to the skyline. Shooting bison which are often only a matter of feet from miles of dense and trackless woodland puts a different sort of emphasis on the need to drop the animals NOW. This is still not to say that the old buffalo cartridges aren't up to the job, because they are. I came VERY close to using my Sharps' on some of these expeditions, but in the end decided on the .404 or .416 with a winter's meat in the balance.

I'm pretty happy to hunt with a self-imposed limitation of 200 yards with reasonably-modern cartridges, and *I* would NOT shoot that far at bison with the Sharps'.

Again, I have NO ARGUMENT with the heavy blackpowder rifles! The absence of those millions of bison is silent testimony to the effectiveness of blackpowder and lead. Just don't try to tell me that a heavy smokeless rifle isn't equally effective. THAT is what I was responding to.

I think I'll go tinker with my Sharps' for few minutes before I head for bed...

07-21-2010, 02:36 PM
I believe my friends' comments mostly related to people using the wrong bullets for the job.

07-21-2010, 03:45 PM

I envy your opportunity to take a bison. I have always dreamed of the chance.

But I mostly wish you the best of luck and hope that it is one of those experiences that memory never lets fade.


07-21-2010, 06:46 PM
I am so tickled at the prospect of this hunt, I want very much for it to be all it can be.I don't win any thing as a rule but I feel like I won some kinda lottery.
I have no illusions of the amount of work that is involved before and after.
I much appreciate your passion,you the man ,you have done this.I have killed most every thing with black powder,it is my propellant of choice.You have me considering in the future one of those old "white powder" thumpers.
This is the conversation I was hoping for,

07-27-2010, 08:08 PM
Two years ago I went on a buffalo hunt in Wyoming on a ranch and shot a nice cow buff. I used an original 50-70 Springfield 1866 trapdoor converted muzzle loader. My load was a 450 gr 40-1 alloy flat point bullet with 70 gr of FFG Shutzen and the shot was at 126 paces from the buff. The shot went clean through and the cow moved about 15 yards and fell over. We just finished the last of the meat last week. I guess I'll have to go shoot another.