View Full Version : buffalo hunters

10-16-2020, 09:32 AM
I would like to find a good book that would give in depth details about how the hunters reloaded and maintained their rifles. Suggestions please.

Bent Ramrod
10-18-2020, 01:23 PM
None of the books I’ve read about the old-time hide hunters have much in the way of cartridge loading detail. This includes the stuff written by the hunters themselves. They “reloaded hulls” while their skinners ripped hides and swatted fleas and graybacks. Some of them didn’t seem to have a very good idea of the actual ammunition they were reloading.

Rifle maintenance knowledge was similarly spotty. There are reports that too many shots taken on a given stand “ruined” somebody’s rifle in short order, this with black powder and lead bullets, a statement regarded as a near impossibility nowadays. Too much shooting was also supposed to “enlarge the bore,” making for inaccurate shooting until the barrel cooled back down. Maintenance, from the pictures of specimens I’ve seen which actually letter to the buffalo ranges, was pretty much a lick and a promise, nothing which anybody today would want to copy.

Wingate (I think that’s his name) wrote a book on Creedmoor shooting which has some loading data, and I think reprints are available. But that’s not buffalo hunting.

Magazine articles are your best bet, although it can be slow going putting a coherent picture together. Shooting and Fishing came along almost ten years after the commercial buffalo hunts were finished, so almost no mention of those events occurs. Of the later developments, powder charges and bullet weights, some mention of loading tools, and nothing in the way of reloading nuances is offered. Frank Mayer gave some loading info on a couple of the old Sharps calibers in a two-part series in the American Rifleman back in the 1930s. The guys who send articles in to Black Powder Cartridge News and The Sharps Collector Report have done an astonishing job of scouring old writings and reports for any mention of the old rifles and their use. But none of it is any way close to what we’d expect today, eg, “Buffalo Bill’s Handy Pocket Guide To Loading And Managing Buffalo Guns.”

The modern books by Garbe, Venturino, Wright, and web sites like this one, the Shiloh site and the Historic Shooting Forum are much better bets for practical reloading methods for the old stuff.