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Thread: On the subject of buffalo hunting

  1. #21
    Boolit Master
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    AS for good books on the subject, I highly recommend any of the books written by Miles Gilbert, a favorite is " Getting A Stand", and a series he co-authored called the Encyclopedia of Buffalo Hunters and Skinners. Also a good one is The Buffalo Harvest by Frank Mayer and Charles Roth.

    The Encyclopedia of hunters and skinners are especially good reading, but a little expensive. Maybe some of you will find some reference to a long lost relative mentioned in this series of books.

    As to popular calibers, I think lots were shot with the common Civil War .58 rifle, and remember Buffalo Bill Cody used his 1866 Springfield .50-70 to do all his killing. He named his rifle Lucretia Borgia? It still exists missing part of the buttstock.

  2. #22
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    https://www.oldonesdream.com/my-blog...-the-math.html

    The Near Extinction Of The American Bison: Do The Math (Rev. 11/9/2015)
    What Really Caused the Near Extinction of the American Bison
    In Hay Camp at Shade Ranch in the Little Missouri Grasslands near Medora, North Dakota, in 2013 we spoke of “Texas Tick Fever”. It had been mentioned in a program, perhaps on the History Channel, which described the devastation brought by the disease to the domestic cattle herds in the northern plains in the 1800s. Kim Shade commented that some say that this disease is what accomplished the virtual extinction of the American Bison. There is evidence to support that theory. In 1983, a pathologist, Dr. Rudolph W. Koucky *(1), published a paper concluding that the last 4 million American Bison (the remainder of the northern herd), succumbed in 1882 to disease, not bullets.

    The Timeline
    The American Bison ranged from Northern Mexico to Southern Canada and is variously estimated to have numbered from 30 million to more than 100 million animals. Calculations based on the “carrying capacity” of the land area set the total herd size at around 30 to 60 million. Many who actually saw the great herds from Texas to the Great Plains believe 30 million to be too conservative. The “Timeline of the American Bison” as recorded by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (no more credible than other sources) is a source of the following benchmarks:

    In the 1500s an estimated 30 to 60 million Bison were living in North America
    From 1700 to 1820, European Americans settled the country, moving westward from the east coast. They brought changes to native habitat through plowing and farming, and the introduction of cattle diseases and grazing competition. Native Americans tribes, forced off of their lands to the east, brought horses and guns to the Great Plains which increased pressure on the bison.
    1830: organized hunting of the great herds began.
    1840: buffalo had disappeared east of the Mississippi and west of the Rocky Mountains
    In the 1860s, railroads built across the Great Plains divided the bison into two main herds - the southern and the northern. Many bison were killed to feed the railway crews and Army posts. During this time, Buffalo Bill Cody gained fame as a wholesale buffalo killer.
    By 1877 the southern herd had been exterminated.
    By 1880, slaughter of the northern herd had begun.
    By 1884 there were approximately 325 wild American Bison in the United States, including 25 in Yellowstone National Park.
    Today there are over 250,000 bison in the United States; of which, reportedly less than 10,000 individuals are genetically pure, including around 4,500 in Yellowstone National Park.


    IMG 0083

    Pure Bison Herd, Wind Cave National Park, Custer, SD June 2010 - Photo by OldOnesDream



    The larger environmental context for the decline of the buffalo was set by climate, drought, disease, fire, horses, cattle, barbed wire, ranchers, railroads, market hunters, and so on. It was driven for the most part by the commodification of the buffalo — tongues, hides, and other parts as highly desired commodities in a greatly expanding marketplace. - Shepard Krech III, Buffalo Tales: The Near-Extermination of the American Bison, Brown University National Humanities Center



    The Math

    The Horse.
    Until the early 1500s when the Spanish horses arrived in the West, the American Bison was the only large herbivore competing for food, and had no serious predator accept hunter gatherer native americans on foot, and wolves that primarily served to remove the sick and injured from the herd. The horse changed that dynamic. Horses reproduce rapidly and consume huge quantities of grass and water. Horses became the Native American currency and so huge herds were accumulated by them as wealth, which required large areas of rangeland (for food and water) - all at the expense of the American Bison.

    The Native Americans
    The buffalo was revered by the Native Americans. That Tatanka was conserved by them is the conventional wisdom but in reality they slaughtered the buffalo in great numbers by driving them over cliffs, and by the use of prairie fire. This slaughter may have expanded once the Native Americans became horsed.

    Nature
    One of the Bison’s enemies was his own small sharp hoofs which could cause them to become immobilized in mud or snow, which made them easy game for hunters, and which occasionally resulted in starvation of large numbers.

    It was the nature of the bison herds to graze into the wind.

    One of the Sioux who fled to Canada with Sitting Bull told the author the story of a great herd lost because unseasonably soft northern winds had drawn them far into the frozen lands of upper Canada one fall, into the face of the arctic winter. The entire herd starved and froze there, leaving their bones to bleach … until the whole region was white as with the snows in which the buffaloes had died. How many were lost? “Ahh-h, it was long ago, and the dead ones were very many,” the old Indian replied. “Enough to feed all the women and children a long, long time, Perhaps this many —“ touching his two finger-spread hands at the thumbs, moving them from the right shoulder left and downward for the sign of a hundred. Then instead of counting the number of hundreds on the backs of the fingers he made the sign again, one hundred hundred, and then once more. One hundred times one hundred hundred — a million. “Very, very many,” he said softly, as to himself. - Mari Sandoz, The Buffalo Hunters, (Hastings House, NY, 1954), page 45-46.

    Bison Female Harvest
    Both the Native Americans and the European Americans selectively killed Bison cows because of the superiority of the female hides both for domestic use and for the market. In the rare cases when the meat was actually used, the meat of the cow, particularly that of the fetus, was considered to be superior. It is obvious that the selective killing of females would exert extra pressure on population by artificially decreasing the number of reproducing animals. Do the math.

    Organized Hunting
    The organized hunting for hides and tongues that began before 1850 resulted in the killing of many millions of bison each year. Mari Sandoz grew up on the Niobrara River in the Sand Hills of Nebraska and listened to the stories of the Old Ones who came to her fathers store from the Rose Bud and Pine Ridge reservations. Her books are good records of interviews with the Sioux. She states that by the 1850s, the Native Americans probably killed around 3.5 million bison each year for the needs of their own population of around 250,000 and the robes they traded. That number seems high. Native Americans have been known to exaggerate when describing their own activities.

    U. S. War Department Policy
    There is the matter of the U. S. Government policy of trying to force the Native Americans onto the reservations by destroying their food supply, similiar to the tactic used so successfully by General William Tecumseh Sherman just a few years earlier against the Confederate States of America. Although there was never a documented U. S. War Department policy of extermination of the bison, that goal was broadly spoken of among government officials and endorsed by General Phillip H. Sheridan*(2).

    Fire
    The Native Americans used fire as a management tool which benefitted the land and the wildlife and they used it to enhance the harvest of bison. The U. S. Department of War used fire as well. According to Mari Sandoz, in January 1865, fires were set, on the orders of Brigadier General Robert B. Mitchell, “… at close intervals all along the line of the Platte and the South Fork, from Kearney in middle Nebraska to the foothills of the Rockies near Denver — better than four hundred and thirty miles.” Sandoz further relates that the fire burned southward for three days, destroying millions of creatures, “… all the game dead or driven from an area half again as large as all of New England.” No Native Americans were killed. They backfired around their camps and horse herds. Many European American settlers along the east were wiped out, their lives saved by their dugout homes, but their livestock killed by the fire. A few greenhorn buffalo hunters perished. I have not seen an estimate of how many bison were killed. Do the math for the geographic area consumed— there must have been millions of bison exterminated?

    The Railroads
    The bison was the enemy of the railroads because the great herds could derail the relatively lightweight engines and cars of the day, and because the seemingly endless masses of bison moving across the tracks would delay the scheduled arrivals and departures of the trains. The railroad owners organized hunting trips for “sportsmen” who would shoot bison from the comfort of the catered railroad cars. The railroad also hired buffalo hunters to kill bison to feed the huge crews of railroad construction workers during the time of the great railroad building push that occurred in the 1860s over multiple routes from the Mississippi River to the West Coast.

    Disease
    Sandoz states “… there was apparently no disease on all the continent that threatened the buffalo in any number.” That is debatable but certainly was no longer true once the European Americans arrived with their domestic cattle.

    In 1825, a “murrain” wiped out all of the hoofed animals in eastern Nebraska resulting in the starvation of some Native Americans in the area, and again in 1858 all of the hoofed animals along the trails between Fort Laramie and Bridger died. Sierra Stoneberg-Holt, Phd., a rancher and scientist in Montana says “…the die-offs in Nebraska seem to match anthrax, and there is a strain of anthrax that was native to that area since about the Pleistocene.”

    Yellowstone Kelly, a trapper, wrote this account circa 1867:

    Our course led over rolling prairie when we crossed a high and level plain which extended for many miles. The plain was covered with a thin coating of ice, and on all sides as far as the eye could reach was dotted with bodies of dead buffaloes. These animals were in good condition and bore no mark of bullet or arrow wounds. The cause of their death was a mystery to us. As we marched over the plain toward the valley of the Cheyenne, the appearance of so many carcasses scattered around made a strong impression on my mind, perhaps because they were the first buffaloes I had ever seen.

    Division of the Herd
    The railroads and wagon trains, and the disease epidemics that wiped out the herds along the Platte River, divided the Bison and segregated the Northern and Southern Herds. By 1880, all that remained was the Northern Herd which ranged Montana and Canada and small parts of the Dakotas and Wyoming. Estimates were that the Northern Herd numbered four million animals. By 1884, the buffalo were finished, they were gone.

    Cattle Drives and Tick Fever
    After the Civil War, ranches were created in Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, and Wyoming, largely with Texas cattle - cattle no doubt carrying “tick fever”. There were reported instances of wagon trains of settlers headed west having their oxen become ill and die while traveling through this country.

    E. C. “Teddy Blue” Abbott in his 1939 memoir, We Pointed Them North: Recollections of a Cowpuncher, tells of driving the first Texas cattle to Montana in 1880. He later describes the evidence he saw of slaughter of the Buffalo and deplored how the range was covered with carcasses on which the hide remained. He may not have fully realized what he was seeing.

    Forty years later, while hunting on the former northern buffalo range, the pathologist Rudolph W. Koucky, M.D., saw buffalo skeletons “… arranged much like a herd of cattle lying on a meadow.” As a pathologist, he took the same scene that “Teddy Blue” had seen and interpreted it in the light of math and science. He could find no suggestion that the animals had been killed and wrote “They had simply laid down and died. … That scene has had considerable influence on my interpretation of the disappearance of the buffalo. It is, in fact, my firm belief that the several million buffalo died from disease.”*(1) page 28

    "In 1881 and 1882 disaster struck the northern herd. The four million animals, together with their anticipated 500,000 annual offspring, disappeared in those two years”. *(1) page 25

    = (Stress)
    Because all of the hunters involved, Native and European, preferred the hides and the meat of younger female bison; there was the counter productive pressure of gender imbalance in the great herds. Sandoz says that: “… by 1867 there were approximately 9 or 10 bulls to every cow.” That is a strong statement. If we are to believe that, and if that trend continued, and there is no reason to think otherwise, then the last four million American Bison may have been almost all bulls. Imagine the level of stress in that herd. Do the reproductive math. That would have been just about the end of line for the last four million in the northern herd.

    1882: The End of the Line
    There is data and there is data and there is math and there is math and much of it is in conflict in the many tellings of the story of the American Bison. There is exaggeration, contradiction, and rearrangement of mostly incomplete data. There is much to read about and many people to trust or not. There is, however, a strong case to be made that the last 4 million bison and their “anticipated 500,000 annual offspring” were not killed by hunters with horses, wagons, knives, single shot hunting rifles, and black powder ammunition in a land with no roads, all in a period of two years. Do the math, but by all means read the Koucky article.
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  3. #23
    Boolit Master

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    Disease did have a large part in the decline , as to meat there was no refrigeration / cold storage and the meat was to far from population centers , demand for the hides and to take away the indians supply source , go read some of the muzzle loading build books , some have a lot of information on trade goods and treaty , the noble indian was wiping out the fur bearing animals and deer and such for what he got in the way of trade goods .

    Oh worked for a native corp. in Alaska cut the old growth right into the salmon spawning beds and creeks and log it to the shoreline , get the best we do not worry about the rest , sorry stewardship , but not unlike so many business do , the greener they claim to be the more skeletons behind the stump .

  4. #24
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    M techs, very informative post.

  5. #25
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    The 50/140 came Long after the buffalo were gone. The big 50 was the 50/90. After the first few years of commercial shooting. The 45/70 became the most used. As stated the army gave out ammo by the case. This eliminated the cost of buying ammo or reloading supplies. The original ammo I have is soft lead. Anyway I can easily mark it with a thumb nail.the orginal.45/70 ammo I have disassembled had a 500 grain bullet, a card wad and about 70 grains of what looked like 1F powder. My load that duplicates that load in a modern case. Modern cases have less internal space than the old cases. I load 63 grains of 2F powder a wad and a 500 grain powder. My bullets are cast out of WW.
    STEVE

  6. #26
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    The 50/140 came Long after the buffalo were gone. The big 50 was the 50/90. After the first few years of commercial shooting. The 45/70 became the most used. As stated the army gave out ammo by the case. This eliminated the cost of buying ammo or reloading supplies. The original ammo I have is soft lead. Anyway I can easily mark it with a thumb nail.the orginal.45/70 ammo I have disassembled had a 500 grain bullet, a card wad and about 70 grains of what looked like 1F powder. My load that duplicates that load in a modern case. Modern cases have less internal space than the old cases. I load 63 grains of 2F powder a wad and a 500 grain bullet. My bullets are cast out of WW.
    STEVE

  7. #27
    Boolit Master

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    There was a Dillon blue press article years ago talked about the 50-70 as it was sold as surplus as probably being one of the most used as it was a lot cheaper to buy it and the ammo .

  8. #28
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    A friend who has shot over 60 buffalo says the .50-90 is the best killer he has used.
    The solid soft lead bullet is undoubtably the best and most satisfactory expanding bullet that has ever been designed. It invariably mushrooms perfectly, and never breaks up. With the metal base that is essential for velocities of 2000 f.s. and upwards to protect the naked base, these metal-based soft lead bullets are splendid.
    John Taylor - "African Rifles and Cartridges"

    Forget everything you know about loading jacketed bullets. This is a whole new ball game!


  9. #29
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    Buffalo Bill's rifle was a 50-70 Trapdoor. A lot of buff guns were trapdoor 50-70's. Don't have my books with me but Uncle Sam passed out obsoleted trapdoors, when going to the .45-70, and 100 rounds of ammo to anyone that wanted to hunt buffalo. Along with disease this had more to do with killing off the buffalo than than Sharps, Winchester, Henry, and Marlin.

  10. #30
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    If you can find a copy at a reasonable price "The Buffalo Harvest" by Frank Mayer is a very good, if short read. He was "the real deal" and writes at some length about his rifles. It's been debated and Mayer has been called a liar by many but later research has pretty much proven, to my satisfaction, he was an honest man and that the scoffers merely scratched the surface from a limited, modern base of knowledge.

    I have a paperback copy of the book and it's less than a hundred pages. I don't remember where I bought it but it was not expensive, less than $20.00. The only copy I could find for sale was a couple hardbacks, one new and the other used....and both ridiculously expensive, $800 to $1000. There has to be some inexpensive copies out there, I just couldn't find them.
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  12. #32
    Boolit Buddy memtb's Avatar
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    I guess that I’m a victim of the “fake news”! Many years ago I read a magazine article, don’t remember which magazine or the writer, if I recall correctly, the author stated that the 50-140 can out at the very end of the buffalo hunting Either he was incorrect or my memory is “lying” to me!

    Anyway, I apologize for my transgression! memtb
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  13. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by memtb View Post
    I guess that I’m a victim of the “fake news”! Many years ago I read a magazine article, don’t remember which magazine or the writer, if I recall correctly, the author stated that the 50-140 can out at the very end of the buffalo hunting Either he was incorrect or my memory is “lying” to me!

    Anyway, I apologize for my transgression! memtb
    The .50-140 Sharps rifle cartridge is a black-powder cartridge that was introduced in 1884 as a big game hunting round.[1] It is believed to have been introduced for the Sharps-Borchardt Model 1878 rifle.[2] The cartridge is very similar to the .500 Black Powder Express.[3]

    This round was introduced by Winchester 3 years after the Sharps Rifle Company closed its doors in 1881. It is similar to, though larger than, the .50-90 Sharps.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.50-140_Sharps

    it appears the last commercial hunting was in 1882

    https://allaboutbison.com/bison-in-h...ison-timeline/
    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."
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    "The Highest form of ignorance is when your reject something you don't know anything about".
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  14. #34
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    Heck I got a 40-90 sharps straight , made the offer on t before doing brass research , stood by my word , had to reblue the barrel as it was not smoothed down all the way and it had been some form of quick blue so there were bare spots where it was not degreased and the blue was a purple color in other areas .

    Story was the guy bought it from Dixie when they had a batch of Pedersolis in that the chambers or barrels were off , so they sold the actions , he had it barreled to 40-90ss and used it in a local clubs shoots , I picked up 60 pieces of brass to go along with the 10 or so he had and the CH4D dies and a Saeco mold , I like it and would be hard pressed to decide which rifle to hunt buffalo with .

    Yes my 40-90ss came out after Sharps closed to from what I read , and having a 50-90 all I can say is it makes the 45-70 look small , no wish for anything bigger .

  15. #35
    Boolit Man HD.375's Avatar
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    Awesome Thread, Thanks for the history lesson
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  16. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by M-Tecs View Post
    https://www.oldonesdream.com/my-blog...-the-math.html

    The Near Extinction Of The American Bison: Do The Math (Rev. 11/9/2015)
    What Really Caused the Near Extinction of the American Bison
    In Hay Camp at Shade Ranch in the Little Missouri Grasslands near Medora, North Dakota, in 2013 we spoke of “Texas Tick Fever”. It had been mentioned in a program, perhaps on the History Channel, which described the devastation brought by the disease to the domestic cattle herds in the northern plains in the 1800s. Kim Shade commented that some say that this disease is what accomplished the virtual extinction of the American Bison. There is evidence to support that theory. In 1983, a pathologist, Dr. Rudolph W. Koucky *(1), published a paper concluding that the last 4 million American Bison (the remainder of the northern herd), succumbed in 1882 to disease, not bullets.

    The Timeline
    The American Bison ranged from Northern Mexico to Southern Canada and is variously estimated to have numbered from 30 million to more than 100 million animals. Calculations based on the “carrying capacity” of the land area set the total herd size at around 30 to 60 million. Many who actually saw the great herds from Texas to the Great Plains believe 30 million to be too conservative. The “Timeline of the American Bison” as recorded by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (no more credible than other sources) is a source of the following benchmarks:

    In the 1500s an estimated 30 to 60 million Bison were living in North America
    From 1700 to 1820, European Americans settled the country, moving westward from the east coast. They brought changes to native habitat through plowing and farming, and the introduction of cattle diseases and grazing competition. Native Americans tribes, forced off of their lands to the east, brought horses and guns to the Great Plains which increased pressure on the bison.
    1830: organized hunting of the great herds began.
    1840: buffalo had disappeared east of the Mississippi and west of the Rocky Mountains
    In the 1860s, railroads built across the Great Plains divided the bison into two main herds - the southern and the northern. Many bison were killed to feed the railway crews and Army posts. During this time, Buffalo Bill Cody gained fame as a wholesale buffalo killer.
    By 1877 the southern herd had been exterminated.
    By 1880, slaughter of the northern herd had begun.
    By 1884 there were approximately 325 wild American Bison in the United States, including 25 in Yellowstone National Park.
    Today there are over 250,000 bison in the United States; of which, reportedly less than 10,000 individuals are genetically pure, including around 4,500 in Yellowstone National Park.


    IMG 0083

    Pure Bison Herd, Wind Cave National Park, Custer, SD June 2010 - Photo by OldOnesDream



    The larger environmental context for the decline of the buffalo was set by climate, drought, disease, fire, horses, cattle, barbed wire, ranchers, railroads, market hunters, and so on. It was driven for the most part by the commodification of the buffalo — tongues, hides, and other parts as highly desired commodities in a greatly expanding marketplace. - Shepard Krech III, Buffalo Tales: The Near-Extermination of the American Bison, Brown University National Humanities Center



    The Math

    The Horse.
    Until the early 1500s when the Spanish horses arrived in the West, the American Bison was the only large herbivore competing for food, and had no serious predator accept hunter gatherer native americans on foot, and wolves that primarily served to remove the sick and injured from the herd. The horse changed that dynamic. Horses reproduce rapidly and consume huge quantities of grass and water. Horses became the Native American currency and so huge herds were accumulated by them as wealth, which required large areas of rangeland (for food and water) - all at the expense of the American Bison.

    The Native Americans
    The buffalo was revered by the Native Americans. That Tatanka was conserved by them is the conventional wisdom but in reality they slaughtered the buffalo in great numbers by driving them over cliffs, and by the use of prairie fire. This slaughter may have expanded once the Native Americans became horsed.

    Nature
    One of the Bison’s enemies was his own small sharp hoofs which could cause them to become immobilized in mud or snow, which made them easy game for hunters, and which occasionally resulted in starvation of large numbers.

    It was the nature of the bison herds to graze into the wind.

    One of the Sioux who fled to Canada with Sitting Bull told the author the story of a great herd lost because unseasonably soft northern winds had drawn them far into the frozen lands of upper Canada one fall, into the face of the arctic winter. The entire herd starved and froze there, leaving their bones to bleach … until the whole region was white as with the snows in which the buffaloes had died. How many were lost? “Ahh-h, it was long ago, and the dead ones were very many,” the old Indian replied. “Enough to feed all the women and children a long, long time, Perhaps this many —“ touching his two finger-spread hands at the thumbs, moving them from the right shoulder left and downward for the sign of a hundred. Then instead of counting the number of hundreds on the backs of the fingers he made the sign again, one hundred hundred, and then once more. One hundred times one hundred hundred — a million. “Very, very many,” he said softly, as to himself. - Mari Sandoz, The Buffalo Hunters, (Hastings House, NY, 1954), page 45-46.

    Bison Female Harvest
    Both the Native Americans and the European Americans selectively killed Bison cows because of the superiority of the female hides both for domestic use and for the market. In the rare cases when the meat was actually used, the meat of the cow, particularly that of the fetus, was considered to be superior. It is obvious that the selective killing of females would exert extra pressure on population by artificially decreasing the number of reproducing animals. Do the math.

    Organized Hunting
    The organized hunting for hides and tongues that began before 1850 resulted in the killing of many millions of bison each year. Mari Sandoz grew up on the Niobrara River in the Sand Hills of Nebraska and listened to the stories of the Old Ones who came to her fathers store from the Rose Bud and Pine Ridge reservations. Her books are good records of interviews with the Sioux. She states that by the 1850s, the Native Americans probably killed around 3.5 million bison each year for the needs of their own population of around 250,000 and the robes they traded. That number seems high. Native Americans have been known to exaggerate when describing their own activities.

    U. S. War Department Policy
    There is the matter of the U. S. Government policy of trying to force the Native Americans onto the reservations by destroying their food supply, similiar to the tactic used so successfully by General William Tecumseh Sherman just a few years earlier against the Confederate States of America. Although there was never a documented U. S. War Department policy of extermination of the bison, that goal was broadly spoken of among government officials and endorsed by General Phillip H. Sheridan*(2).

    Fire
    The Native Americans used fire as a management tool which benefitted the land and the wildlife and they used it to enhance the harvest of bison. The U. S. Department of War used fire as well. According to Mari Sandoz, in January 1865, fires were set, on the orders of Brigadier General Robert B. Mitchell, “… at close intervals all along the line of the Platte and the South Fork, from Kearney in middle Nebraska to the foothills of the Rockies near Denver — better than four hundred and thirty miles.” Sandoz further relates that the fire burned southward for three days, destroying millions of creatures, “… all the game dead or driven from an area half again as large as all of New England.” No Native Americans were killed. They backfired around their camps and horse herds. Many European American settlers along the east were wiped out, their lives saved by their dugout homes, but their livestock killed by the fire. A few greenhorn buffalo hunters perished. I have not seen an estimate of how many bison were killed. Do the math for the geographic area consumed— there must have been millions of bison exterminated?

    The Railroads
    The bison was the enemy of the railroads because the great herds could derail the relatively lightweight engines and cars of the day, and because the seemingly endless masses of bison moving across the tracks would delay the scheduled arrivals and departures of the trains. The railroad owners organized hunting trips for “sportsmen” who would shoot bison from the comfort of the catered railroad cars. The railroad also hired buffalo hunters to kill bison to feed the huge crews of railroad construction workers during the time of the great railroad building push that occurred in the 1860s over multiple routes from the Mississippi River to the West Coast.

    Disease
    Sandoz states “… there was apparently no disease on all the continent that threatened the buffalo in any number.” That is debatable but certainly was no longer true once the European Americans arrived with their domestic cattle.

    In 1825, a “murrain” wiped out all of the hoofed animals in eastern Nebraska resulting in the starvation of some Native Americans in the area, and again in 1858 all of the hoofed animals along the trails between Fort Laramie and Bridger died. Sierra Stoneberg-Holt, Phd., a rancher and scientist in Montana says “…the die-offs in Nebraska seem to match anthrax, and there is a strain of anthrax that was native to that area since about the Pleistocene.”

    Yellowstone Kelly, a trapper, wrote this account circa 1867:

    Our course led over rolling prairie when we crossed a high and level plain which extended for many miles. The plain was covered with a thin coating of ice, and on all sides as far as the eye could reach was dotted with bodies of dead buffaloes. These animals were in good condition and bore no mark of bullet or arrow wounds. The cause of their death was a mystery to us. As we marched over the plain toward the valley of the Cheyenne, the appearance of so many carcasses scattered around made a strong impression on my mind, perhaps because they were the first buffaloes I had ever seen.

    Division of the Herd
    The railroads and wagon trains, and the disease epidemics that wiped out the herds along the Platte River, divided the Bison and segregated the Northern and Southern Herds. By 1880, all that remained was the Northern Herd which ranged Montana and Canada and small parts of the Dakotas and Wyoming. Estimates were that the Northern Herd numbered four million animals. By 1884, the buffalo were finished, they were gone.

    Cattle Drives and Tick Fever
    After the Civil War, ranches were created in Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, and Wyoming, largely with Texas cattle - cattle no doubt carrying “tick fever”. There were reported instances of wagon trains of settlers headed west having their oxen become ill and die while traveling through this country.

    E. C. “Teddy Blue” Abbott in his 1939 memoir, We Pointed Them North: Recollections of a Cowpuncher, tells of driving the first Texas cattle to Montana in 1880. He later describes the evidence he saw of slaughter of the Buffalo and deplored how the range was covered with carcasses on which the hide remained. He may not have fully realized what he was seeing.

    Forty years later, while hunting on the former northern buffalo range, the pathologist Rudolph W. Koucky, M.D., saw buffalo skeletons “… arranged much like a herd of cattle lying on a meadow.” As a pathologist, he took the same scene that “Teddy Blue” had seen and interpreted it in the light of math and science. He could find no suggestion that the animals had been killed and wrote “They had simply laid down and died. … That scene has had considerable influence on my interpretation of the disappearance of the buffalo. It is, in fact, my firm belief that the several million buffalo died from disease.”*(1) page 28

    "In 1881 and 1882 disaster struck the northern herd. The four million animals, together with their anticipated 500,000 annual offspring, disappeared in those two years”. *(1) page 25

    = (Stress)
    Because all of the hunters involved, Native and European, preferred the hides and the meat of younger female bison; there was the counter productive pressure of gender imbalance in the great herds. Sandoz says that: “… by 1867 there were approximately 9 or 10 bulls to every cow.” That is a strong statement. If we are to believe that, and if that trend continued, and there is no reason to think otherwise, then the last four million American Bison may have been almost all bulls. Imagine the level of stress in that herd. Do the reproductive math. That would have been just about the end of line for the last four million in the northern herd.

    1882: The End of the Line
    There is data and there is data and there is math and there is math and much of it is in conflict in the many tellings of the story of the American Bison. There is exaggeration, contradiction, and rearrangement of mostly incomplete data. There is much to read about and many people to trust or not. There is, however, a strong case to be made that the last 4 million bison and their “anticipated 500,000 annual offspring” were not killed by hunters with horses, wagons, knives, single shot hunting rifles, and black powder ammunition in a land with no roads, all in a period of two years. Do the math, but by all means read the Koucky article.
    My grand father who was born in 1860 told me the story of the fate of the buffalo and the plains Indian when I was a young lad. I have no doubt of what he told me as he grew up at that time he was a US Deputy Marshall in the Territory saw himself what happened met some very interesting people too he passed in 1957 he told me men and women were as hard as cut nails back in them days.

  17. #37
    Boolit Mold
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    The Sharps rifles were not chambered in the 3 1/4 cartridges ie: 45-120 & 50-140. The big fifty is the 50-90 aka 50 2.5 and the biggest 45 chambered by Sharps was the 45-110 aka 45 2 7/8's. Other chamberings were the 45 2.1 aka 45-70, 45 2.4 aka 45-90 & 45 2.6 aka 45-100 also the 50-70 Govt. case length is 1.747. Currently Starline has both 50-70 & 50-90 in stock but none of the 45's.
    Hope this info helps.
    Dan

  18. #38
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by starnbar View Post
    My grand father who was born in 1860 told me the story of the fate of the buffalo and the plains Indian when I was a young lad. I have no doubt of what he told me as he grew up at that time he was a US Deputy Marshall in the Territory saw himself what happened met some very interesting people too he passed in 1957 he told me men and women were as hard as cut nails back in them days.
    1860?! Did he and your dad have kids when they were old men, or are you just old enough to remember when dirt was new?

  19. #39
    Boolit Grand Master



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    Quote Originally Posted by starnbar View Post
    My grand father who was born in 1860 told me the story of the fate of the buffalo and the plains Indian when I was a young lad. I have no doubt of what he told me as he grew up at that time he was a US Deputy Marshall in the Territory saw himself what happened met some very interesting people too he passed in 1957 he told me men and women were as hard as cut nails back in them days.
    My dad was born in 1923. He is still living alone and sharp as a tack. He is one of eleven born in a 2 room sod house. He is from tough stock. I those days children where to be seen and not heard but he fondly remembers the bachelor neighbor coming over for supper and drinks. My grandpa was a noted moonshiner. This neighbor was in his late 70's or 80's at the time but told stories of driving cattle on the Chisholm Trail as a young man. Per dad all the old people were "hard" people.
    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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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check