professionals Arizona is often cited as having game policies and wildlife men
that rank with the best of any state. Many of these men are at Raymond Ranch,
working the harvest, helping the nervous girl and the other shooters. It is
pointless to seek their true opinion of the proceedings. Also, it is unfair to
try, since they draw their pay from the state, which has elected to cull the
herd as it does. Once in a while, though, something slips out from behind the
official pose and prose.
department's education officer is working at the skinning shed, his yellow
rubber pants crimson to the knees. In a break between carcasses he observes
mildly, nodding toward the hanging buffalo sides and the crowd watching the
butchering operation, "It's a shame these people can't get to see what a
wonderful animal a buffalo really is. They can survive on poor range, in
terrible weather. They go through fences like they were paper. They run all day
and they take an awful lot of killing. When you get to know them you have a lot
of respect for them."
something about hunting that is ignored in the attacks of anti-hunters and, to
be fair, overlooked in the defenses of a lot of contemporary hunters. In the
course of a good hunt, which can be conducted with a lasso, a net or a sharp
pair of eyes as well as a gun, a powerful intimacy develops between prey and
predator. It is partly intellectual, for each party is forced to learn, to
speculate upon the faculties of the other. Also it is emotional. There comes a
closeness which may still be best described by an old-fashioned term—reverence.
At Raymond Ranch this intimacy and reverence is missing. There is only a girl
banging away at a mound of flesh she does not understand and barely sees, for
the sake of a wall hanging. There are better marksmen at the harvest than the
girl, but no better hunters.
All of which is
why those who are concerned with the image of the sport of hunting are very
edgy about what the buffalo shoot is called. They keep insisting that it must
not be dignified as a hunt, that it is not a sporting affair, that it is a
harvest, a game-management exercise. It is not a sport, just straight
slaughterhouse work, right? Right. But there are hundreds of citizen gunners
who are eager to pay 45 bucks to work for a few minutes as butchers'
apprentices, right? Right. So, if they enjoy it, why not let them? Right?
A 14-year-old boy
is one of the lucky 80 buffalo permit-holders. His parents, both of whom have
previously shot a buffalo, are with him all the way, like the classic parents
of a Little League pitcher. After he was selected in the lottery Dad made him a
full-size buffalo-shaped target on which to practice. As B Minute draws near,
Dad fires off volley after volley of advice and encouragement: "Take it
easy. Remember the ear. Don't be a horn hunter. Wait for your shot.
Squeeze." Mom is the boy's flack, explaining what a good, obedient straight
shooter he is.
"It is such a
fine sport for youngsters," Mom says. "It teaches them sportsmanship,
gun safety, self-reliance. When they have this kind of interest you don't have
to worry about drugs and all the rest."
kind of gallery he has, the boy doesn't shoot badly, first hitting the buffalo
in the right leg, then the left and then finishing him off with a head shot.
Someone asks the boy what he liked best about the whole experience.
"Killing it," he answers promptly.
Not being old
enough to commit any platitudes to memory, the boy has gotten down to the heart
of the Raymond Ranch matter. People do not pay $45 to protect the buffalo from
the consequences of their own fertility. They do not show up with their guns to
give the game commission men a hand. They pay and they come to satisfy their
own primeval urges. It is nothing new.
AND BUFFALO HUNT
train will leave Leavenworth at 8 AM and Lawrence at 10 AM for Sheridan, on
Tuesday, October 27, 1868, and return on Friday. This train will stop at the
principal stations both going and coming. Ample time will be had for a grand
Buffalo Hunt on the Plains. Buffaloes are so numerous along the road that they
are shot from the cars nearly every day. On our last excursion our party killed
twenty buffaloes in a hunt of six hours. All passengers can have refreshments
on the cars at reasonable prices. Tickets for a round trip from Leavenworth,
Kansas Pacific Railroad