Despite setting up camp in twenty below temperature, and enduring even colder nights, the Buffalo Bridge crew got right on collecting and processing buffalo parts! I couldn’t have done it without the awesome help of Josh and Gilles. It was just the three of us for the first week, and we had our hands full processing all the gifts received from the hunt. The Nez Perce hunters have been glad of our help, and interested in the hide tanning and processing of some of the more obscure parts. I truly feel as though we are building lasting connections. They have been so generous with hides, meat, heads, and all the stomachs we can handle!
We have also interacted with the Buffalo Field Campaign, who have been out here observing and advocating for wild bison for seventeen years. Our camp was host to a politically charged dinner party with BFC folks and some Nez Perce friends. I don’t believe any of the BFC kids ate the buffalo tongue I served, though!
Several more people have arrived in camp to help – Harmony braved the storms to arrive from Colorado, and has already made a great impression on the native hunters with her long dreadlocks and get- in-there attitude. Tom Elpel came for the weekend to document the events, and has plans to create a Youtube clip of the experience. Our friend Qwalen also arrived, bearing more meat from legal roadkill to add to the stewpot. And Laura, plagued by storms and car trouble, will arrive this afternoon. Camp is swelling with energy and joy. We need the extra hands for all the processing!
We pressure-canned meat, bone broth, and hearts. We have made jerky, and skinned a mountain of legs for the hock skins and bones. We have eaten incredibly delicious and nourishing stews and roasts of wild buffalo. We have fleshed, racked, scraped, and salted a variety of hides. We have skinned out skulls, and scrotums. We have dug, laughing joyously, through gut piles as big as we are, searching out hearts, livers, and the honeycomb stomach to bark tan.
We have laughed and joked with Nez Perce hunters. We have interacted with game wardens, conservation officers, and state hunters. We have received instructions on how to cook tongue, tripe, and other delicacies. We have gutted buffalo with the wind and snow howling like a freight train. We have fallen asleep exhausted and bloody and full to the brim with buffalo meat. We have laid awake in the morning with wolfsong in our ears.
But mostly, we have been filled with joy and purpose, knowing that we are holding an important role out here in this political hotbed – we are honoring the buffalo the only way I know – to glory in making use of their every piece, and whatwe cannot use will be carried to the sky by the omnipresent force of ravens like a prayer.
Home Sweet wall tent.
Fleshing a buffalo hide.
A buffalo stomach, turned inside out.
Head in a sled.
Skinning a buffalo calf by headlamps, headlights, and moonlight.
Collecting blood for blood pudding.
Grinding buffalo hearts for sausage.
Giles teaching how to start a hand drill fire.
Taking a turn.
Katie and crew could not have found a more perfect place to make camp.
Thanks for reading, more to come!