One buffalo haunch, coming up!

Back in the late 1970s I was working for the State of Texas as a cartographer/illustrator/shovel bum on historic archaeological sites. I got to live outdoors in many parts of that state and was doing an awful lot of outdoor cooking. We worked for the same agency as the possum cops and were able to salvage venison on the way to the excavation from the previous night’s roadkill. We could tell how long it had been there readily. We had a number of great venison stews that came from our good works. RO-TEL tomatoes & green chiles was a staple in our pantry. This was before they wussified it, like they wussified jalapenos at the Texas A&M  School of Plant Science.

One time though, out in West Texas, we lucked into a huge piece of buffalo. You see, a bunch of pre-colombian archaeologistii got permission to see if they could butcher a buffalo with bone tools. All they needed was a dead buffalo. They found that the herd at Fort Sill, Oklahoma needed culling and bright and early one late September morning, an old buffalo bull was dropped with a single shot. The bone implement boffins went and plumb cut that sucker up into transportable hunks. One of our colleagues was along for this lovely boondoggle and filled a couple of Igloo chests with this rather meaty booty. He drove back to Austin by way of our Buffalo soldier site and laid a cooler of  “buffler” on us.

The first thing we tried was to cut it into steaks.. we grilled them over mesquite and found that they really tasted good, but were, shall we say, a mite chewy as one would expect a buffalo bull to be. We ended up cutting a 40+ pound chunk of  buffalo haunch into stew & chile meat. By hand. And no one lost any digits.

We ate quite well for the rest of the dig.. except for the whiny vegetarian.


5 thoughts on “One buffalo haunch, coming up!

  1. I’ve had buffalo, but it was farm raised here in central Illinois. It wasn’t tough at all. Actually it was pretty lean so not as tasty as venison to me. Maybe that is because all the venison I have ever had was wild stuff shot by the locals. Dunno. Good story, though. Quite enjoyed those days of digging in the ground, looking for lithic technology. I would like to have seen them butcher that buffalo, though, using stone tools. Wow. Messy but fun.

  2. We get culled buffalo carcasses occasionally from Fort Wingate for students to practice butchering with stone tools–but now the Army makes us promise not to eat them–afraid of getting sued.

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