Francis Parkman wrote in his journal in 1846 that “Once among the buffalo, the hunter, unless long use has made him familiar with the situation, dashes forward in utter recklessness and self-abandonment. He thinks of nothing, cares for nothing but the game; his mind is stimulated to the highest pitch, yet intensely concentrated on one object”.
“In the midst of the flying herd, where the uproar and the dust are thickest, it never wavers for a moment; he drops the rein and abandons his horse to his furious career; he levels his gun, the report sounds faint amid the thunder of the buffalo; and when his wounded enemy leaps in vain fury upon him, his heart thrills with a feeling like the fierce delight of the battlefield.” Parkman also reported that some white hunters followed the Indian practice of using bows and arrows for the hunt.
Indians were the prime buffalo runners of the Wild West era. Charles M. Russell so loved to depict Indians hunting buffalo that his many paintings, often named simply The Buffalo Hunt, have led collectors to number them as a method of identification.
Although few other artists have mastered the depth Russell gave to the subject, a number of them have also depicted the buffalo hunt. At the C.M. Russell Auction of Original Western Art, held in Great Falls, Montana, on March 17-20, collectors had the opportunity to purchase a wide range of art showing this most famous of hunts.
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Meghan Saar is the former editor of True West, the world’s oldest, continuously published Western Americana magazine. She has worked in niche publication content development since 2002, and she has a B.S. in Journalism and Creative Writing from the University of Arizona—Tucson.