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Old Doc Horsehair, Buffalo Hunter

By Bob Flesher 

Old Doc and the boys were finishing up supper one evening with some coffee and Fiddlin’ Toby’s apple pie a-la-mule.  Uncle John said, “Hey Doc, what was the worst scrape you ever got into out there in the West when you were buffalo hunting with Buffalo Bill?”.  Old Doc thought a while and then he said, “ I guess the strangest predicament I ever got into was when an old bull buffalo saved my hide from freezing to death.”  “How in the heck could a bull buffalo save you from freezing to death?” was the next question.

Old Doc slid his chair back, lit up his pipe and started orating.  “Well, it happened like this.” Old Doc said.

“It was after I left Buffalo Bill because the railroad across the continent was finished and there was no more need to hunt buffalo for the train building crews.  Old Bill finally taught me to shoot straight and gave me a big 60 caliber buffalo rifle. He also sold me a good saddle horse trained to ride right up beside a buffalo so’s you could shoot him down.  I named that horse, “Buffalo Bill” after my friend.  I meandered town Texas way just to see what was going on down there.  I was in need of a job so I hired on as a hunter and a scout along with a couple of other friends of mine with a small wagon train headed west to California.  They was a-takin’ the southern route, you know.  Winter was a-comin’ on but by taking the southern route through Mexico, which is now called New Mexico, over to Santa Fe, they figured they would miss most of the cold weather.  Well, they didn’t figure on Texas.  That can be the coldest place in the world sometimes when you least expect it.  As a matter of fact, they got Eskimos living in the pan-handle area” 

Doc puffed on his pipe a couple of times and went on, “We had gotten out to West Texas somewhere south of where Amarillo is today.  We had heard from some Injuns we ran across that there was a big buffalo herd south of us.  Well we were getting’ a-might low on meat so me and the boys figured we’d go buffalo huntin’ the next morning.  Well before  morning ligh came we arose….  Wait a minute!  I wrote a poem about this adventure so I wouldn’t forget it.  I call it ‘Out On The Buffalo Trail”.  Let’s see now.”  Doc thought for a few seconds and then he started off…

Gather around boys, and I’ll tell you such a tail

     Of something strange that happen out on the buffalo trail;

While huntin’ for provisions to feed our wagon train

     Of twenty wagons headed west out on the Texas plains.


We saddled up at morning light, the three of us did go,

     Headed south or’ the plains…to hunt the buffalo;

Now, we split up to try to find where such a herd might be,

     We’ll fire our rifles as a signal when buffalo we see.


But that day an old blue norther came down with an icy wind,

     With sleet and snow, I’ll tell you boys, that’s the coldest I’ve ever been;

After while it snowed so hard that I just couldn’t see,

     So I got off and walked a while, my horse for to lead.


When suddenly in front of me…I see…a darkened form,

     Why it’s an old bull buffalo a-weatherin’ out the storm;

Well, I shouldered up my rifle and shot that feller down,

     Then I skinned him out and laid the hide, fur up on the ground.


Then I laid down and rolled and rolled that hide around me,

      Closed both ends and soon I was warm and then fell fast asleep;

But next morning when I awoke, my heart was filled with fear,

     The knawin’ and growning of wild wolves on the hide outside I hear.


Well, I tried to move but it’s no use, the hide is frozen fast,

     But I worked and worked and got one arm above my head at last;

When suddenly a bushy tail pokes through the hole and I grab it with all my might,

     The wolf starts pulling the hide through the snow as he flees in his fright.


Then , the hide rolls down a hill and breaks open on a rock,

     Well, I climb out and look around and I can’t believe my luck;

The storm is gone, the sun is out, I’m blinded by the light,

     Sometime later my pards came by to help me in my plight.


We road back to try to find where my horse might be,

     There he is way over yonder… just as still as he can be;

Well, I found my rifle and I found my horse just standing there all alone,

     Yep!…there he stood…just frozen to the bone.


I broke off his ear and kept it just so I could prove

     That every time I tell this story, you know I tell the truth;

Here’s his ear, look at it. And that’s the end of my tale,

     Of something strange that happened…out on the Buffalo Trail. 

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