Frontier Hunting Accidents

Dad is ready to hunt during a family outing near Broken Bow in 1889. History Nebraska RG2608-764

Hunting on the frontier had many drawbacks besides firearms accidents. Among them were mishaps to horses and the problems of preserving and safely storing game after it was killed. The Nebraska State Journal of Lincoln on September 25, 1869, included a letter from Victor Vifquain describing his hunt along the Republican River south of Fort Kearny. Although Vifquain and his friends intended to hunt chiefly buffalo, they also bagged wild turkeys, elk, and antelope.

Vifquain said of one hunting mishap:

Mr. Danford of Lincoln, made a magnificent chase of an antelope, today. He was riding a magnificent little mare which once was captured by the Indians. He set out after it and was gaining rapidly, and was about ready to fire, when the mare set her foot into a badger’s hole and gave our hunter a terrible fall. In the midst of the dust, which for a second was prevalent, nothing could be seen but the mare’s tail in the performance of her terrible somersault. The rider was thrown to the ground some twelve feet ahead, with such a force that it made me think of a bomb shell plowing the soil. I rode towards the spot, fearing to find the man dead; but nothing of the sort, he was trying to tighten the girth of his saddle, and a nose bleeding was the only damage. These badger holes are extremely dangerous. I have tried that myself three or four times, and I advised chasers to be very careful about them.

Vifquain noted as the expedition was preparing to return home that “the meat was taken care of [perhaps dried], but some twelve hundred pounds of elk meat got spoiled.”

Members of a hunting party from Lincoln several years later in 1877 also lost part of their game. From The Daily State Journal, November 10, 1877:

The hunting party, . . . that left this city last Tuesday, for a few days hunt in Iowa, returned yesterday afternoon, bringing home with them about one hundred mallard and teal ducks. The party had a pleasant time and enjoyed themselves hugely. When they arrived at the lake they found it partially frozen over, and the ducks not so numerous as they were the week before. The party estimated that they shot about 200 . . . , but a herd of hogs getting into their tent when they were absent, devoured about twenty-five, and seventy-five which they killed or crippled on the lake they could not recover.


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