I was seven years old when I found a buffalo skull. A recent flood had washed it out of the sandy banks of Cummins Creek. I was thrilled beyond belief. For three years it occupied a place of honor on the ground in our garage, until one night someone drove over it, crushing the brittle bone into pieces the size of sawdust. Like the skull, I was crushed…
Long before I found the skull, I had started dreaming of being a buffalo runner, one who hunted the broad plains in search of our North American bison. Growing up I feared to dream of such a hunt was as close as I would come.
Years later I received a phone call from a friend, John Bachelor, who ranched in Oklahoma. “Larry, I bought thirty head of buffalo to start my own herd. Unfortunately, they did not respect barbed wire fences and now are scattered over three counties. I’ve rounded up some and brought them back home, but there are a couple of really old bulls that refuse to be driven back to my place. Want to go on a buffalo hunt?” Before hanging up I had made the appropriate arrangements to come hunt one of the rogue bulls.
Upon on my arrival, John said, “We’ll take my freighter wagon, send out the boys and a couple of friends on horseback to go find them, then determine our best approach.” I nodded and John answered, “Could take several days to find them again!” It did!
Day four the old bull was found feeding along a brushy creek bottom. Quickly we made an approach from downwind, then planned the final stalk. If the bull continued feeding where he was, I thought I would be able to get within a hundred yards. I felt confident at that distance I could cleanly take down the old bull, shooting my .405 Winchester single-shot rifle loaded with a 300-grain Hornady Soft Point.
Thirty minutes later, I was set up on crossed shooting sticks 75 yards from the old bull. I waited for him to turn broadside. Behind me I heard John warn, “Don’t him high, lower third of the chest!” My sights were planted immediately behind his front leg, about a third of the way up his body.
At the shot, the bull simply pitched forward, and before I could chamber another round he was down and stayed down. Even so, I kept the .405 Win pointed at his now laying on his side vitals. I could not believe the bull had gone down so quickly.
I whispered a prayer of thanks, and when assured the buffalo would not again rise, accepted John’s congratulatory handshake. A lifetime dream, until then, realized. Photos, and then the work of skinning and quartering. Thankfully it was still early in the morning!
Regardless of what is going on in the world, there are always small things, of beauty and splendor, for us to enjoy, admire and appreciate!
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