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Hunting Buffalo Bulls

How we lived with the Land

Hunting Buffalo Bulls

Fall was a good time to hunt old buffalo bulls. Their hides are very tough and made good shields and rawhide containers to hold our food. Elk hides were tanned and made into winter clothing, and buffalo hides were made into robes before the snow came.

Buffalo Hide Shield

The shoulder of an old buffalo bull is the toughest hide. Our men used this to make shields that would stop arrows and even musket shells.
Buffalo Hide Shield

Buffalo shield, ca.1935, Collection of Glenbow Museum

Collection of Glenbow Museum


Hunting Buffalo Bulls

Buffalo bulls lived by themselves or in small groups for most of the year. They started to come together in the late summer and early fall when they began to look for females to mate with. This was a good time to hunt them. The meat was tough and stringy, but the hides were strong and thick.
Buffalo

Ponoka (Elk)

Ponoka (elk) were one of the animals with hoofs and horns that the wolves taught us would be good for food (Read the story of the Wolf Trail). Our men hunted ponoka (elk) by approaching very carefully and shooting only one or two animals. Our women dried or roasted the meat.

The male ponoka (elk) usually live alone or in small groups. The females live in larger groups with calves and yearlings. Each fall bulls fight each other for the right to mate with the females.

Ponoka (elk) hides are thicker and larger than deer hides, and lasted longer when we made them into dresses, shirts, and moccasins. The hides are easier to scrape, tan, and sew than buffalo hides, which are much thicker.
Elk



Parfleche

The fall hide of the buffalo bull was very tough and made good containers. These were waterproof and kept our food and clothes dry.
Parfleche

Parfleche, early 20th century, Collection of Glenbow Museum

Collection of Glenbow Museum


 

"It is starting to get cold at night and the leaves are turning colour."
Moving camp

 

"Tomorrow we will start moving towards the mountains. We need to prepare new lodge poles for our tipis before the winter comes."
Moving camp


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