Several years ago while returning from a rendezvous near Pine Ridge, South Dakota, I met a latter day mountain man, Lance Grabowski, living in a tipi by the Laramie River that skirts Fort Laramie. Scattered about his tent were several buffalo skulls. When I first saw him, he was in the process of scraping a good-sized buffalo hide that was stretched on a willow rack just outside his tipi. I was fascinated by the fort and its restoration as well as Grabowski and tales of his newly acquired lifestyle.
After nearly two days at the fort, I left for a stretch of prairie outside Wheatland, Wyoming and a character known as “Bison Pete” who raised buffalo and was the source of Lance’s material.
Several hours later I located Pete and his herd. Needless to say I was impressed. Pete proved to be an excellent cook, guide and, like many people who choose this type of solitary life, a philosopher.
For the next two days I took pictures, sketched and, from Pete learned a lot about buffalo that I hadn’t known before. When I returned home to Boise I imnediately began working on a print, based on what I saw and imagined.
Del Stubblefield, a teacher friend, posed as my model. This is the second in a series of buffalo hunting scenes that I’ve produced. The material used in the “Buffalo Stand” is authentic, the buckskins worn by the hunter are those that I traded Grabowski out of earlier. The knife, the cartridges, the Sharps “Old Reliable,” and the rest of the hunter’s gear is well seasoned material that artists find indispensable in putting together such a composition.
Buffalo hunting was a major industry in early western history. It became so well publicized that in the short span of twenty years or less, herds were reduced from literally millions to near extinction in the 1880’s. Thanks to good game managanent programs and entrepeneurs like “Bison Pete,” we still can enjoy this marvelous animal, a living link with the western frontier.