Pricing the Buffalo, Setting History’s Dinner Table

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“Before the hunters invaded Texas, the market had priced the buffalo. The slaughter was so efficient that the remaining herds panicked, and both the hunted and their hunters - outfits led by James White, Mike O’Brian and the Mooar Bros. – turned southwest, to tragic effect.”

About 1871 the packers came to fully realize the superiority of buffalo meat, and this led to its immediate introduction and universal popularity as a fod. The tallow was of poor quality and never commanded a very good price. The hides proved to make an inferior quality of leather, and consequently depreciated in value; the prevailing price for average hides benig about $1.00 during the greater part of the slaughtering period, and the meat sold for about 2 1/2 to 3 cents per pound. The humps, or saddles, hams and tongues was the only meat the hunter preserved, and countless thousands of buffalo were killed only for their hides, but as a buffalo in good flesh would yieled about 400 pounds of choice meat his gross valuews about $11. During 1871 and 1872 hundreds of carloads of buffalo meat were shipped from Dodge City to Kansas, Chicago and other great packing points.

There is no way of approximating the number of buffalo in the United States when the great slaughter began. The records show that more than 3,5000,000 hides were marketed, but these records by no means show the total number of hides sold, to say nothing of the thousands of buffalo that were wantonly slaughtered but never skinned, thus going totally to waste.

Don Hampton Biggers
Pictures of the Past