A Buffalo Hunt

Some of the old residents will remember Jim Kimsey. He was from Southern Illinois, therefore did not know much about fighting Indians before he came to Colorado. But one thing he soon learned was that he was afraid of them. He said: “Nobody as knows ’em can help being ‘fraid of ’em; white folks are hard enough to fight, but Indians are worse, ’cause a fellow keeps thinking what they would do to ye when they gets a chance.” He was out after Indians once with Jim Pinkerton and Sam Ashcraft. He said: “I am a good shot at an antelope; can bring them down every time ; but I had five fair shots at an old Indian’s back, a big, broad shouldered fellow, too, I’d judge weighed two hundred pounds, but I never made no impression on him.”

I have been out with Jim a number of times, and, as he says, he is a good shot. We were out together once on Beaver creek. The whole country was black with buffalo: there seemed to be thousands of them moving north. The Indians had received a permit from the governor of the state to go to Beaver Creek to hunt buffalo. Ouray, Douglas and Colorow, who were Ute Indians, and their band, with Curtis, their interpreter, arrived at the creek in the evening and had a big powwow that night. The next morning they said they would show us how to hunt buffalo. They started out in groups of four, two bucks and two squaws, on their ponies. There was a ridge perhaps a quarter of a mile from camp. We went up on that to watch them. The two bucks made a run for the herd and cut out the one they wanted; then one would fire at it, and if he missed the other would fire. As soon as the buffalo was killed the bucks would ride back to camp and the squaws would take charge. They would skin it, cut up the meat and pack it on their ponies and take it into camp.

The Sioux, Cheyennes and Arapahoes claimed this hunting ground, but they camped about thirty-five or forty miles from there. The Utes found out where they were camped and made a raid on them, stole their ponies and struck out for the mountains. The others got on the trail of the Utes and followed them. When they overtook the Utes there was quite a fight and they got their ponies back and some of the Utes’ ponies. But the government had to interfere and get back the Ute ponies, because the governor gave them permission to hunt on the grounds belonging to the Sioux, Cheyennes and Arapahoes.

That was the good old time to hunt in Colorado. I brought home twenty-six hind quarters from yearlings up to four year olds. My brother, R. Patterson, had twenty-seven hind quarters, and Kimsey had twenty-six. I hung mine up in a sod house and we had buffalo meat all winter, also antelope meat by the wholesale. While we were down there old Chief Douglas came to me and wanted me to give him oats for his horse. He said: “My horse ‘Merican horse; no stand ridin’ ‘out oats.” I said: “My horse is American horse, too, and can’t stand to pull this load of buffalo back home without oats, and I have only enough for one.” So I would not give any.

After we had started home and were about six miles from camp, we met two Englishmen from Greeley, going after a load of buffalo. They had small guns, wholly unfit for such hunting, and the Indians had got in their wagon and stole their grub, so we gave them something to eat. They then wanted us to kill them a load, but some of the boys in our crowd thought we ought to have a little fun with them first.

They shot one buffalo and just crippled it, then told the men they did not want to waste any more ammunition, but for one of them to go for him with a knife, as it did not have any horns. The calf got the best of them and knocked them down. The boys then called out, “Tail him.” “Cut his ham strings,” etc. The men went for the calf again, but were knocked down the second time. The boys thought they had fun enough, so they killed some buffalo to load their wagon and sent them on their way rejoicing. We always had good times when we were out, but I think this was our last buffalo hunt.

Other Resources

Some of the Pioneers of Colorado

Source: True History of some of the Pioneers of Colorado, by Miss Luella Shaw, Press of Carson Harper Co, Denver, Colorado, 1909

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Scroll to Top