The Extermination of the American Bison eBook

William Temple Hornaday
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 330 pages of information about The Extermination of the American Bison.

On June 6 the teams from Fort Keogh arrived, and we immediately returned to Miles City, taking with us our live buffalo calf, two fresh buffalo skeletons, three bleached skeletons, seven skulls, one skin entire, and one head skin, in addition to a miscellaneous collection of skins and skeletons of smaller mammals and birds.  On reaching Miles City we hastily packed and shipped our collection, and, taking the calf with us, returned at once to Washington.


On September 24 I arrived at Miles City a second time, fully equipped for a protracted hunt for buffalo; this time accompanied only by W. Harvey Brown, a student of the University of Kansas, as field assistant, having previously engaged three cowboys as guides and hunters—­Irwin Boyd, James McNaney, and L. S. Russell.  Messrs. Boyd and Russell were in Miles City awaiting my arrival, and Mr. McNaney joined us in the field a few days later.  Mr. Boyd acted as my foreman during the entire hunt, a position which he filled to my entire satisfaction.

Thanks to the energy and good-will of the officers at Fort Keogh, of which Lieutenant-Colonel Cochran was then in command, our transportation, camp equipage, and stores were furnished without an hour’s delay.  We purchased two months’ supplies of commissary stores, a team, and two saddle-horses, and hired three more horses, a light wagon, and a set of double harness.  Each of the cowboys furnished one horse; so that in our outfit we had ten head, a team, and two good saddle-horses for each hunter.  The worst feature of the whole question of subsistence was the absolute necessity of hauling a supply of grain from Miles City into the heart of the buffalo country for our ten horses.  For such work as they had to encounter it was necessary to feed them constantly and liberally with oats in order to keep them in condition to do their work.  We took with us 2,000 pounds of oats, and by the beginning of November as much more had to be hauled up to us.

Thirty six hours after our arrival in Miles City our outfit was complete, and we crossed the Yellowstone and started up the Sunday Creek trail.  We had from Fort Keogh a six-mule team, an escort of four men, in charge of Sergeant Bayliss, and an old veteran of more than twenty years’ service, from the Fifth Infantry, Private Patrick McCanna, who was detailed to act as cook and camp-guard for our party during our stay in the field.

On September 29 we reached Tow’s ranch, the =HV=, on Big Dry Creek (erroneously called Big Timber Creek on most maps of Montana), at the mouth of Sand Creek, which here flows into it from the southwest.  This point is said to be 90 miles from Miles City.  Here we received our freight from the six-mule wagon, loaded it with bleached skeletons and skulls of buffalo, and started it back to the post.  One member of the escort, Private C. S. West, who was then on two months’ furlough, elected to join our party for the hunt, and accordingly remained with us to its close.  Leaving half of our freight stored at the =HV= ranch, we loaded the remainder upon our own wagon, and started up Sand Creek.

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The Extermination of the American Bison from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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