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Buffalo Days: Stories from J. Wright Mooar

Overview


"Because he has been criticized as a destroyer, a ruthless killer, and wastrel of a great game resource of a Nation, the buffalo hunter appeals to the bar of history for his vindication. . . . Within four years we opened up a vast empire to settlement, and put the Indians forever out of Texas."

J. Wright Mooar tells the story of the buffalo hunter, from the hunter's perspective, in this first-person account published more than seventy years ago in several installments in Holland's, The Magazine of the South. ...

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Overview


"Because he has been criticized as a destroyer, a ruthless killer, and wastrel of a great game resource of a Nation, the buffalo hunter appeals to the bar of history for his vindication. . . . Within four years we opened up a vast empire to settlement, and put the Indians forever out of Texas."

J. Wright Mooar tells the story of the buffalo hunter, from the hunter's perspective, in this first-person account published more than seventy years ago in several installments in Holland's, The Magazine of the South. Mooar was more than eighty years old when he sat down with Methodist minister/educator James Winford Hunt and recounted his years as a buffalo hunter.

He describes how buffalo hunting became a huge business that thrived for less than a decade in the 1870s and makes the case that the buffalo hunter, more than anyone else, opened the way for white settlement by eradicating the Indians' source of food.

"Buffalo hunting was a business and not a sport. It required capital, management, and a lot of hard work. Magazine writers and others who claim that the killing of the buffalo was a national calamity and was accomplished by vandals simply expose their ignorance, and I resent such an unjust judgment upon us.

"If it had not been for the work of the buffalo hunters, the wild bison would still graze where Amarillo now is, and the red man would still reign supreme over the pampas of the Panhandle of Texas.

"Any one of the families killed and homes destroyed by the Indians would have been worth more to Texas and to civilization than all the millions of buffalo that ever roamed from the Pecos River on the south to the Platte River on the north."

"Here is an odyssey of hairbreadth escapes from death with wild Indians, wilder white men, and thundering herds of wild buffalo," writes J. W. Hunt, founding president of Abilene's McMurry College (now University), in his introduction.

Illustrated by Texas folklore artist Granville Bruce, the stories of J. Wright Mooar make for lively reading and continuing debate.

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Editorial Reviews

Journal of Arizona History
"a rare view of the buffalo hunters as they saw themselves."
Southwestern Historical Quarterly
"This book is a very good source for anybody interested in the frontier times of the Great Plains and Texas, and would be beneficial to undergraduates in a course on the frontier."
East Texas Historical Journal
"This is an interesting book and a good present, and I recommend it."
Glenn M. Busset
"vividly descriptive"
Manhattan Mercury
The Santa Fe New Mexican
"a little gem...a thrilling tale"
Gun Week
"Students of western Americana will find this slim volume provides enjoyable reading of an era never to be repeated."
The Tally Sheet
"This work is a valuable contribution to the libraries of those interested in the settling of the American West. It is surprising that it has not been presented in book form prior to this date."
Journal of The English Westerners' Society
Outdoor News Bulletin
"a fascinating read. . . . [Mooar's] experiences . . . provide keen and sometimes wincing insight to a different time and outlook."
Mexia Daily News
. . . hard to put down . . . a valuable addition for those interested in Texas and western history. You'll enjoy this fine little book. (Mexia Daily News)
Review of Texas Books
. . . a must read for anyone interested in the West.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781880510957
  • Publisher: State House/McWhiney Foundation Press
  • Publication date: 4/15/2005
  • Series: Texas Heritage Series , #6
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 1,202,767
  • Product dimensions: 5.44 (w) x 7.52 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Meet the Author

J. WRIGHT MOOAR was one of the best known buffalo hunters of the American frontier. He was more than eighty years old when he recounted his years as a buffalo hunter.

JAMES WINFORD HUNT was a well-respected West Texas Methodist preacher who founded McMurry College in Abilene, Texas, in 1923, and became the college's first president.

ROBERT F. PACE is chair of the Department of History at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas, and co-author of Frontier Texas: History of a Borderland to 1880 (State House Press, 2004).

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Read an Excerpt

The buffalo threw up his shaggy head and looked at the hunter who, crouching on the prairie seven hundred yards away, immediately froze into immobility. The seconds passed. Man and beast regarded each other intently, on a distant knoll another wild figure appeared-an Indian on his pony. His sharp eyes took in the picture on the plain below. He too paused and sat as if carved from stone. The miles-wide sward of dun prairie grass broke against the red bluffs of an arroyo and the low rocky hills marking the foot of the great Staked Plain of Texas. It was a picture for a Remington.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 7
Prologue : Mr. Hunt's note 14
Ch. 1 The chronicle of a buffalo hunter, J. Wright Mooar 15
Ch. 2 Buffalo days - the second chapter of the chronicle of J. Wright Mooar 28
Ch. 3 The real story of the "cracked ridgepole" at Adobe Walls 41
Ch. 4 A rendezvous with death 55
Ch. 5 The killing of the white buffalo 68
Ch. 6 Billy the Kid 83
Ch. 7 Big Jack and the wounded buffalo 92
Ch. 8 The frozen robe 99
Epilogue : Mr. Hunt's note 105
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