Pioneer Camp (Part 3) – The Buffalo Hunt

Theme Quick Links: Pioneer Camp – Part 1 & Pioneer Camp – Part 3

The Buffalo Hunt

The kids (and the buffalo) had the most fun with this activity!

We all know that Buffalo were an important part of the Western Migration, so I wanted to teach the kids about them and how the pioneers found buffalo hides a blessing of warmth and the meat was so welcome and often life saving. The idea of doing a buffalo hunt popped into my head, and  I excited to arrange it in our trek experience.

Going on a Buffalo Hunt

Here the kids are armed and waiting for the hunt to officially open.

 Each of the kids was asked to bring a water gun–mostly super soakers. (I had extras for the forgetters in the family, like me.)  The fathers and grandfathers of the children were to be the buffalo, and they each held  a cardboard cutout of a buffalo head to use as a shield against the mighty hunters.

Buffalo Hunt -- Pioneer Camp


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The kids loved picking on their dads, grandpas and uncles.

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Some of the Grandpa Buffaloes seemed easy targets for the littler kids, so they ganged up on them!

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BUT sometimes the buffalo fought back!

Values and Principles–Another Teaching Moment

The needless slaughter of the buffalo herds causing Native Americans to suffer is very sad, even heart breaking.  After our fun sport, I talked to the kids about this. Our ancestor, William Morely Black– the one who joined the wagon train in search of gold–experienced the sport of the huge buffalo herds. The herds were so large that people could feel the ground shake before they heard the thunder of their hoofs. They traveled in herds of about 10,000 (some estimate).  In his writings: Sketch of the Life of William Morley Black. he expresses his regret of participating in the hunts:

“The journey…was a prosperous one. The most lively incidents were the days when for sport we hunted buffaloes, thousands of them  were shot down for the mere fun of the thing. No one seemed to consider that they were the property of the Red Men, and that they by generations of inheritance claimed them as we claim our marked and branded cattle. Sad indeed was it for the Sioux nation when the white man made a thoroughfare through their well stocked hunting grounds.”

What better way to talk about the terrible consequences of sport killing and how the slaughtering of millions of buffalo changed the whole Western landscape than hearing a great…grandfather’s words?

Trading Post–End of the Trail

On the final stretch of the Pioneer Trek, they came to a Trading Post. I had purchased souvenirs from the Pioneer Museum in Salt Lake City and other souvenir shops in Salt Lake. I had some beaded dolls and pop guns, Native American medicine pouches, bracelets, necklaces, cups, little boxes with bugs (artificial) and a lot of other inexpensive things that I had been gathering for months.

Trading Post -- Pioneer Camp


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The kids were so delighted at the chance to spend their gold!

Ancestor Story Books

My niece had made two spiral-bound books with a simple retelling of the stories of the ancestors we had been talking about: Red Bill about William Morely Black, and Mama’s Faith: The Miracle of the Sea Biscuit about Ann Jewell Rowley. The books were very cute with illustrations and all!  It was the best souvenir that  would be a reminder of  our Pioneer Camp Adventure, and could be read to coming generations of children. Each family, not each child, received the two books.

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We ended with Dutch oven potatoes, chicken, and fried scones with jam and honey.

Our Pioneer Camp was over by early afternoon. We met at 11:00 and ended about 2:30. Getting organized took about 30 minutes. The Trek, with our breaks and games and trading post took about 2 hours (we didn’t travel very far). Then we ate and visited and cleaned up, which was another hour and a half or so.We made lots of happy memories as well as introduced our grandchildren to a couple of their ancestors in a super fun way!

Happy Day! All Is Well!


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