Sacred Beings
Buffalo and Deer - Sustainers of Life

Hunting Methods

Hunting Deer on Horseback, c. 1960
Courtesy of Stanley Munro and Nathan Spinks

The methods used in hunting buffalo and deer varied according to the season, the landscape and the available tools. Before the arrival of the horse, these animals were hunted on foot. Hunters may have covered themselves with coyote or wolf hides to approach the buffalo without alarming the herd. When they got close enough, they could either drive the buffalo over a cliff or use weapons such as the atlatl and spear. Buffalo pounds and deer fences were also built to corral the animals. Dogs helped drive the animals into the pounds or into deep water. In the winter, the hunters wore snowshoes, and dogs chased the animals into deep snow to slow their flight. Once the horse became available, between the late seventeenth and late eighteenth centuries, buffalo and deer were hunted on horseback.

Hunting the Buffalo in Herds
by Alfred Jacob Miller, 1867
National Archives of Canada C-429
Native Hunters Pursuing the Buffalo in the Early Spring
by Peter Rindisbacher, 1822
National Archives of Canada C-114467

Hunting technology also changed over time, and new weapons were acquired through trade. With the arrival of the horse, the size of the bow-and-arrow was reduced to accommodate the mounted hunter. Guns and metal arrowheads were acquired through the fur trade. Like the bow-and-arrow, guns were kept in elaborately decorated cases with symbols and designs that may have been intended to protect the owner or bring him luck.

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Introduction | Hunting Methods | Products of Life | Buffalo and Deer Imagery | Buffalo Ritual | Decimation of the Buffalo and Deer | Re-emergence of the Buffalo | Transition to Cattle ranching

Introduction | Buffalo and Deer | Dog and Coyote | Honouring the Horse