In the early days, Buffalo (Bison) ranged from the western plains to the Allegheny Mountains. Around 1822 about 60 million Buffalo roamed the plains before the Europeans brought them to the brink of extinction.

Today the Bison is domesticated and is not allowed to roam free, except in places like Yellowstone Park.

Native People used the Buffalo is a very sparing and respectful way, to provide them with meat, clothing, homes, and tools. Male s can weigh up to 1200 pounds and, in the past, were said to reach 2000 pounds.

The American Buffalo is technically a bovine ruminant (or Bison bison).

William Frederick Cody's eighteen (18) buffalo had a part in the preservation of the species. At the end of 1888, of the 256 buffalo in captivity, only two herds were larger than Buffalo Bill's.

Cody acquired his name from killing buffalo. Many believe that he was responsible for the extermination of the animal. However, Hornaday, director of the Bronx Zoo in New York State, felt that the Indians were as much responsible, since they drove herds over cliffs, thus slaughtering many more than they could use. Drought was another cause and the blizzard of 1885-86.

Buffalo Bill worked to bring the herd back from extinction, and by the 1950's, Bison numbered 9,000. Most of the destruction of the American Bison took place between 1870-1883. In those three years, 3,700.00 buffalo were killed (only 50,000 were used for food).

William F. Cody killed only 4,280 bison in his lifetime. He killed them to feed troops during his scouting career and others were killed on hunting parties. He killed his last Bison in 1884. Bill always felt bad about killing Bison and tried to make up for that later in life. He also employed one hundred Indians in his Wild West Show (Licking Bear, Short Bull, Lone Bull, Sitting Bull, etc.)

My Bison PageLearn more about the Bison here.



  1. What delicacy was called "trapper's butter" by the mountain men?

  2. When chasing Bison, on horseback, where did early buffalo hunters keep their rifle balls?

  3. What was charqui?

  4. Who killed 2,500 bison, 1,600 deer and elk, 105 grizzly bears, and countless small game animals between 1854-1856?

  5. What were some of the rifles used by bison/buffalo hunters?

  6. What famous cattleman decided to raise bison to save them from extinction?

  7. What wasteful hunting technique is particularly blamed for the extinction of big game?

Find the answers HERE

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The Bear Clan - Table of Contents

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