Americas Finest
By Betty Hathorn

The North American Bison is a majestic symbol of the pioneering spirit that is a part of our collective heritage. For centuries, Native Americans, and then pioneers relied on the bison to provide them with food, clothing, bedding, shoes, tools and shelter. In the early 1800's approximately 60 million of these strong animals roamed thousands of miles across this great land of ours. Between the Kansas and Pacific Railroad and the cowboys, the bison were nearly driven to extinction by 1885.

Today in 2001 the bison are back again. Approximately 350,000 head of buffalo are located throughout North America. The buffalo that I had the privilege of hunting was owned by Mister Frank Camajdalka, who keeps a herd of about 350 head of buffalo on his ranch near Alpine, Texas.Every year he puts several of these buffalo on some of his other ranches for the hunters.

From the time I was very young, the buffalo on the nickel always impressed me. Folk songs like " home on the range where the buffalo roam " made me think of the huge animals.

I never dreamed I would live in Texas someday, and never in my wildest imagination thought I would go on a Buffalo Hunt.

The hunt started on September 29,2001. We left home, close to Galveston, Texas about 4:30 a. m. Steve Mahurin, a friend who taught me to hunt at age 65, Richard Lozano a friend, and Taxidermist, and myself.

We arrived at the Flying Z Ranch in Giddings, Texas, about 7:30 a. m. Robert Vawter, who was the one to lead us on this quest, was just arriving. My stomach was beginning the Samba. He told us to go in one direction, and he would go in another direction to try and find the buffalo.

The terrain was mostly flat with the exception of a few rolling dips. The white topped, goat weed and the purple sage brush dotted with patches of goldenrod here and there was relieved by the back drop of the dark green tree line. The whole thing made for a very picturesque scene.

It was just about 10:30 a. m. when we first spotted the buffalo, a hundred yards or so away. The two buffalo were feeling frisky, and running around in the cool, crisp, morning air. As I was entering the pop up blind, that Robert had set up earlier, my heart started beating so fast I could hardly breathe. Steve was following me into the blind, and Richard was behind us, outside the blind. All of a sudden Richard, his voice with a sense of urgency was saying "Come on you guys out of the blind quick!!'' I kind of moved to the blind opening when Richard reached for my hand and said, "move, I realized that one of the buffalo was coming right toward the blind at a pretty good speed. Believe me my old bones moved pretty fast then. Robert moved toward the bull, picked up something hard and let it fly like a shot put. Thud, believe it or not, he had hit the buffalo right between the eyes, not more than twenty yards away. The massive animal stopped, shook his head, then slowly backed away and went over to where the other buffalo was grazing.

We finally went back to the blind. I thought I had the shakes before, but it was nothing to what I had now. Gosh, that buffalo really looked big. In fact approximately 1,500 pounds big, big. He was about 90 yards away when I shot him with a Remington 30-06. He started to stagger, then I put a second bullet in him, about an inch from where the first one had hit him. That did it, and he went down. I let go with a big sigh of relief and elation.

After making sure he was dead, it was picture-taking time. You will never know the feeling I had. Actually I really don't know what I said. but I can tell you it was a very proud moment for me.

I am looking forward to trying the meat, which I hear is very good. Last but not least, I can hardly wait to admire him on my trophy room wall.

Written 11-11-2000 by Betty Hathorn

Steve Mahurin
25 North Heights
La Marque, Texas 77568


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