Monday, June 02, 2008

Buffalo Problem, no-one dead (quite)

June 1st 1827, east of Edmonton

A party of hunters went out at daybreak after the herd of animals seen last night. Most willingly I followed them. Mr Harriott & Mr Ermatinger and three hunters went off to the opposite side of the herd and killed two very large and fine animals. Seeing their boat at the side of the river and no-one in it gave us to know they had gone for the meat and we put to shore.

Mr H & E were pursuing a bull which had been wounded. The animal, which had suffered less injury than expected, turned and gave chase to Mr McDonald and overtook him. Seeing that it was impossible to escape he had presence of mind to throw himself on his belly flat on the ground, but this did not save him.

He received the 1st stroke on the back of the right thigh and pitched in the air several yards. The wound was a dreadful laceration literally laying open the back of the thigh to the bone; received five more blows at each of which he went senseless. Perceiving the beast preparing to strike hi m a seventh, he laid hold of his wig [the buffalo’s hump] and hung on; man and bull sank down the same instant.

His companions had the melancholy sensation of standing g to witness their companion mangled and could give no assistance. His life could not be expected.

But a shot went off by accident without doing any injury to anyone, and had the unexpected good fortune to raise the bull, first sniffing his victim, turning him gently over, and walking off.

I went up to him and found life still apparent, but quite senseless. He had sustained most injury from a blow on the left side, and had it not been for a strong double sealskin shot-pouch, with ball, shot, wadding etc unquestionably would have been deprived of life, being opposite the heart.

The horn went through the pouch, coat, vest, flannel and cotton shirts, and bruised the skin and broke two ribs. He was bruised all over, but no part materially cut except the thigh & left wrist dislocated.

My lancet being always in my pocket like a watch, I had him bled [which he was doubtless much in need of, not] and his wounds bound up, when he was carried to the boat; gave 25 drops of laudanum and procured sleep. In hope of finding Dr Richardson no time was lost to convey him to Carlton House.

[Postscript – the man survived; presumably so did the buffalo.]

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