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Every year, Manitou Springs, a resort center just west of Colorado Springs, throws a big barbecue as a farewell to the tourists who have emptied their pockets in the little town all summer. Buffalo is the traditional pi�ce de r�sistance of the free feed.
This summer the Manitou Jaycees decided to make something special of the barbecue since the festivities were dedicated to Zebulon Pike, the headstrong explorer who, 150 years ago, came upon the 14,110-foot peak which rises above the town.
The man in charge was Jack Higgenbotham, whom the Jaycees chose as the one to put oomph into the occasion. He arrived at his brand of oomph by observing some of the tame, commercial Indians who hustle their wares in Manitou each summer. "Why not," thought visionary Jack, "get some of those fellows to stage a real oldtime buffalo hunt, killing our game for the barbecue with bow and arrow?" Jack approached a few of the Indians, mostly Pueblos and Navajos up from New Mexico. "Sure," said the first, a squatty fellow done up in full war regalia, "we'd be glad to kill buffalo for you, only we'd have to borrow some rifles." Jack explained how he wanted them killed. "You know something, Jack," said the Indian, "I've never shot a bow and arrow in my life, and I doubt if many of these other fellows have. Furthermore, I don't ride good enough to shoot from horseback, and if you think I'm going to ride a horse into a lot of hopped-up buffalo you're nuts." Undaunted, Jack sought out some of the other Indians, but the most they were willing to do was to furnish atmosphere for $10 a day. "They're a bunch of farmers," said visionary Jack.
But news of Jack's frustration got around, and soon enough local paleface bowmen had volunteered to make up a hunting party. The palefaces' enthusiasm for playing Indian, however, was dampened by Dick Spencer, editor of The Western Horseman, himself part Indian. "From what I hear," he told them, "you guys are going to dress up like a lot of Hollywood drugstore Indians and go out and slaughter some buffalo. Well, you're all wrong. This is a hunting party, not a war party. The Indian regarded the buffalo as his friend. You don't need a lot of fancy feather headdresses and war paint."
One of the archers dourly commented later: "We thought all we had to do was stick some feathers in our hair and daub our faces. It turned out we had more rules than the Army."
Jack Nellessen, a Colorado Springs tool- and die-maker, who is a local expert on Indian ways, properly outfitted the boys in Sioux regalia and they took off for Sterling, Colo., 150 miles distant, to make final arrangements for the hunt which was to take place on the Carl Sherwin ranch. Sherwin, who has one of the largest private herds of buffalo in the country, keeps it thinned down by selling animals to such outfits as the Jaycees for roasts.
Higgenbotham promptly contacted Sherwin and told him of his Wild West vision. "That's fine with me," the rancher said, "as long as you fellows guarantee to repair all the fences between here and Wyoming [40 miles away]. If you start chasing those big fellows on horseback like that, they'll go right through the fences and take them all the way to Wyoming."
Jack altered his plan again and decided to separate the needed animals from the herd and have them driven past the bow and arrow boys. But Sherwin shrewdly insisted that riflemen stand by to prevent wounded animals from tearing all over the ranch.
The day of the hunt arrived. Nellessen put make-up on a party of six including himself. They appeared pretty authentic if you overlooked the swim trunks and sneakers a couple of the boys wore.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Sherwin's hands had prepared horses for the braves to ride. Three of them mounted bareback. No sooner had the "Indians" ridden up to the herd than the horses started acting up. Two of the riders were summarily thrown. "We never could have shot an arrow off those horses anyway," said Nellessen.