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Thread: On the subject of buffalo hunting

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy Wolfdog91's Avatar
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    On the subject of buffalo hunting

    So looking into older rifles and casting this my interest has been peaked. Anyone happen to have any info regarding the the more.... intimate details of how the old buffalo hunters worked back in the day ? Favorite calibers , what alloys they prefered , what ranges where short , what where long, prefered bullet designs, what was considered acceptable accuracy?
    Would also be interested in similar dealing with other game from that eras perspective. Deer elk and the like. Any reading recommendations ? Preferably something that gets into the nitty gritty details
    A wise man will try to learn as much from a fool as he will from a master, for all have something to teach- Uncle Iroh
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    Boolit Grand Master



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    The best accounts I have read were in the Black Powder Cartridge News https://www.blackpowdercartridge.com/

    Something you see BPCN collections for sale at a reasonable price.
    2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. - "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

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    Boolit Buddy memtb's Avatar
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    I know that some were shot at fairly long ranges. As the Buffalo became more scarce, and shots were getting longer.....Sharpe’s eventually brought out the 50-140, which I think was the largest cartridge used! The must have been quite a cartridge in it’s day! memtb
    You should not use a rifle that will kill an animal when everything goes right; you should use one that will do the job when everything goes wrong." -Bob Hagel

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    Boolit Master
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    I have to say that I have read anything and everything about the buff hunters since first reading "The Thundering Herd" as a boy. I think Chuck Hawkes does an excellent job of exploring things as a take off point.
    https://www.chuckhawks.com/buffalo_cartridges.htm

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    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by nicovanj View Post
    Are you talking about?
    Attachment 290537

    In the older days the Germans came to hunt in South Africa and brought their 9.3x62 Mauser rifles hunting Cape buffalo. It became a very popular caliber here. Today the minimum caliber for buffalo is the .375 H&H. My .416 Rigby do the job.
    No , not cape buffalo , but the American Bison , and the hide hunting , I have 4 Sharps replicas , all Pedersoli with a Shiloh on order , the thundering herd by Zane Grey, read it when I was young several times .

  6. #6
    Boolit Buddy 405grain's Avatar
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    The buffalo hunts were both romanticized and controversial. Of the various "buffalo rifles" used during that period, the most famous today would be the model 1874 Sharps. Many different cartridges, most obsolete now, were employed during those hunts. Of all those cartridges the one which has endured the most is the 45-70 Government. This was, and still is an excellent cartridge. Colorful characters and legends of the old west were participants in these hunts, and many stories are still told of their adventures. The North American bison is an impressive creature, and we are fortunate that it's numbers have been brought back from near extinction. It is the cause of that near extinction that is the controversy.

    Was there an enormous demand for buffalo hides; so much so that it required the slaughter of millions of buffalo? There certainly wasn't a huge demand for buffalo meat, as most of it was left to rot on the prairie. The bones were ground up and used as fertilizer. But those bones were gathered up from the buffalo skeletons after the meat had rotted away. There were other sources of fertilizer, but the bones were basically free for the taking. So if there wasn't an economic driver based on buffalo products, why was buffalo hunting lucrative? Because it was an organized plan by the federal government to deprive the native American population of their primary food source in order to starve them into submitting to the reservation system.

    At the end of the Civil war there were still buffalo herds the size of whole counties, but by the mid 1880's those vast herds had been almost wiped out. There are lessons to be learned here. Conservation and respect for wildlife are important if we want to preserve the wild places and creatures that we all enjoy. Hunters should harvest meat in a way that is sustainable, and responsible. It's up to today's hunters to be good stewards of the environment.

    The native Americans got a raw deal. I read somewhere that when Columbus landed on Hispaniola there were an estimated 33 million native Americans living in North America. That same article said that in 1900 there were only 100,000 Indians still living in the United States. They had lived here since the ice age, but were only given the right to vote in 1905. I'm glad that their culture wasn't lost forever, and have learned some insightful wisdom from Native American friends. I am proud that my grandfather was full blood Cherokee.

    All this said, if you ever get the chance to hunt a buffalo, it would be a most memorable and enjoyable hunt if you get the opportunity to do it with a large bore single shot that's representative of that colorful age of cowboys, the ending of the wild west, and the very beginning of the industrial age.

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    Boolit Master
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    33 million ? Read some where ? Sounds like an estimate of conjecture ( just sayin) . I didn't know they took head counts back then , sounds like another government program ! /Ed

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    Boolit Master

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    It’s suggested by the “experts “ that you start out with a 45/70 because of the availability of components! When I got my 44/77 Sharps about 2 years ago I had trouble getting everything I needed during the 1st year of the pandemic. I check the various handloading component suppliers and 45/70 stuff seems to be coming back. Good luck!
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    Boolit Master starnbar's Avatar
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    Contrary to popular book claims the bison succumbed to the diseases brought by the settlers and the oxen, cattle, and sheep they brought with them. The bison had no immunity to this invasion neither did the native Americans this was not just a U.S. issue as the british brought plenty of disease to Hawaii and other island nations killing more native people than all their guns did.

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    Boolit Grand Master

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    From what I have read the Buffalo "Hunters" and crews were more business than hunting. The shooters would set up in hides and take the number of animals the Skinners could handle in the day. Once the shooters had them sown then they went to filling meat contracts for the forts and towns. There were govt programs that gave 45-70 ammo to the hunters, this was used as is or disassembled and used to load the longer cartridges.

    While hides and tongues were popular, the bigger push was from the rail roads and government. The herds crossing track would stop or derail trains. The buffalo was the Indians general store supplying them with food housing clothes. Eradicating the buffalo made them dependent on the government for basic needs.

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    PM sent.

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    Boolit Master Thumbcocker's Avatar
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    I have read that sometimes the military gave free .45-70 ammo to hide hunters. Cut off the Indians food supply.

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    You'll go far providin' you ain't burnt alive or scalped."

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    Boolit Master Thumbcocker's Avatar
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    Buffalo hide made good industrial belting. The tounges were pickled and sold. Eventually rhe bones were ground and sold for fertilizer.

    The history of America is "anything for a buck"

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    You'll go far providin' you ain't burnt alive or scalped."

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    Boolit Buddy
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    Just read a very interesting book on the history of the Comanche Indians, who were the dominant tribe of the southern plains. They pretty much dominated this area and pushed other tribes out. I found it interesting that once they discovered the value in Buffalo hides they got in on the game also. Apparently on average a family unit would consume 6 animals per year but once they learned they were good for trade material they killed an average of about 40 animals. There was an excerpt in the book where it was reported by a soldier that they encountered a single herd that spanned 50 miles long and 25 miles wide. According to this book the demise of the Comanche’s was mostly due to the government soldiers killing their horses. The amount of grass consumed by these massive herds was viewed as a resource put to better use by the large ranching operations that were developing at that time also. So maybe it wasn’t just one but many things that led to the elimination of the vast herds Btw the book was Empire of the Comanche Moon.

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    Boolit Master Thumbcocker's Avatar
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    I read a biography of a guy who clerks at Fort McKenzie. According to him the Sioux treated the Buffalo as cash on the hoof as well


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    Will Geer as Bear Claw in "Jeramiah Johnson"

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    Boolit Buddy veeman's Avatar
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    I have a real hard time believing a herd could be 50 miles long and 25 miles wide. No prairie could support that amount of animals. Even with constant moving, grass don't grow that fast.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    Let them kill, skin, and sell until the buffalo is exterminated, as it is the only way to bring lasting peace and allow civilization to advance.” – General Philip Sheridan

    I do not find the astounding numbers historically reported as being unbelievable. With 45 million cattle being raised in the top 10 cattle producing states, and lawn grass is listed as a significant crop in most states - it is quite reasonable to think of grasslands supporting those herds when unencumbered by the current landscape.
    The comment concerning disease spread is simply untrue and unfounded in history.

    I do of course know about the "big 50" and the various other cartridges of the day being used with apparent great success. The "stands" of buffalo numbering in the hundreds had to be an incredible opportunity for those fellas to test both their marksmanship and determine which rifle / cartridge combination worked best for them in their particular area.
    Just a fascinating topic - regardless of current political or personal views.

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    Boolit Master swamp's Avatar
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    In regards the 50-140. I have a rolling block replica in that calibre. In reading about, it was introduced too late for the hunts. No records of any Sharps sold in that calibre. I use a 650 gr. for regular loads and the Lyman 515141 for light loads.

    swamp
    There is no problem so great, that it cannot be solved by the proper application of high explosives.

  19. #19
    Boolit Grand Master popper's Avatar
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    The comment concerning disease spread is simply untrue and unfounded in history.
    Nope. Bison herds were on the decline by the early 1800s. As usual, Gov. officials know not much. Mississippian culture peoples were estimated to be several million and DISAPEARED (from disease of their OWN). Most of the Am. Indians that we know were from the northeast tribes that moved when the Europeans came. South Indians were basically from Mexico, that claimed most of the southwest US. Northern plains tribes mostly hunted deer and elk as they had few weapons to take bison. Pretty much the same for the southwestern. They took mostly calves by driving herds into ravines or off cliffs. Like everyone, take the easy pickings.
    Interesting, lots of work.
    https://www.bisoncentre.com/resource...g-bison-hides/
    Whatever!

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    Boolit Grand Master



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    The records still available as to the number of cartridge shipped west and the number of hides shipped east are still available today. The numbers or percentage killed would not have accounted for the rapid decline of the population based on modern game management techniques.

    Tick fever was one reason https://www.grunge.com/217892/the-re...-went-extinct/
    A pathologist, Dr. Rudolph W. Koucky, examined buffalo remains in 1926. "Obviously, the entire herd had been sick," he writes in the North Dakota History: Journal of the Great Plains. "It is, in fact, my firm belief that the several million buffalo died from disease." The disease: tick fever, borne by Texas cattle driven north to ranches on the Great Plains. Wandering, grazing cattle had ample opportunity to interact with wild buffalo, especially in Montana, where the die-off was first noticed. Just as Native Americans had no resistance to European disease, buffalo had no immunity to tick fever. Bullets had an impact, but it was fever that was killing the beast. "This concept of extermination by disease is much more plausible than the unsupported assumption that the buffalo were destroyed by hunters," wrote Dr. Koucky.


    Brucellosis causes still births after the initial infection and is thought to be the main cause of the near extinction.
    2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. - "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

    "Before you argue with someone, ask yourself, is that person even mentally mature enough to grasp the concept of different perspectives? Because if not, there’s absolutely no point."
    – Amber Veal

    "The Highest form of ignorance is when your reject something you don't know anything about".
    - Wayne Dyer

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