Pine Ridge District Buffalo Hunters

It was cold and ground was frozen, but Kyle Reddy, Josh Apple and Mat Brewer had been given a responsibility. The Pine Ridge Village council had been given two Buffalo along with all other districts. The idea was to have meat for the elder meals program which delivers food to the elders every week day. It’s kind of like a soup kitchen each day but they serve more than just soup. The Buffalo was straight from our very own OST Parks and Recreation’s Buffalo pasture. The guide would be assistant Buffalo range manager Melton Around Him. The hides are prime and thick right now and it was the best time to hunt a buffalo. This crew was sharpening their knives of duty while the tribe celebrated LNI. The Pine Ridge Village cap office had given the crew the responsibility of harvesting and processing two Buffalo for the District elderly meals program. The chance was an honor and for the crew it meant getting the job done and helping to feed the people. If this day went as planned they would be responsible to harvest and process three buffalo. The third would be ours.

It was 6:20 am and the sound of a knife blade running over a stone was coming from the kitchen at the ranch. The crew was anxious and excited. I sat here worried if the guys I would have to pick up would be rested. We had a long night before and it had been a busy week. Our adventurous responsibility would come fast when the OST Parks official Melton Around Him would give us the call for the green light meaning it was a go and he’s on his way. Once out to the pasture it was over the frozen ground a cold day with a bite to it, Buffalo weather it was. Once we entered the gate it was slow down and enjoy: it is a beautiful place. The prairie frozen and there were no vehicle tracks on any road in front of us. The pasture holds the tribes sacred Tatanka the old ones, however we were after a meat harvest younger aged buffalo. After finding one of the herds Melton lined up shooters and it would be some great sharp shooter hits that would be very quick and get the job done. Two Buffalo were one shot kills and a third two shots. Josh Apple who was new to the Pine Ridge sharp shooters and it took him two shots and he must have been nervous because he had a box sitting next to him. It quickly became time for some heavy work. As we walked up to each Buffalo I forgot how big of a job we had coming.

Buffalo and hunters

We all got together and lit our sage. It was a very special part, the start of a journey into a doorway one day we will all travel. The crew got silent as I prepared our Wopila prayer. It’s good to be thankful in our world today, and standing over one of these there is a lot to be thankful for. We thanked the buffalo for this day and asked that this Tatanka know we come as a brother. We asked that this meat give our elders strength and health. We take our time with this prayer and this moment, and try not to forget anything as it is the moment when the Tatanka listens to our hearts. Everyone stood there and waited listening to the prayer and smelling of the sage smoking on the ground. Melton shut off the ranger truck too and everything stopped for this moment. In the silence you can feel the Tatanka hover and exit the body. The sharp shooters stood at attention as if there was a general present. A message will come in the next days to those hunters. Sometimes it comes fast if they are in tune and on a good path in life. We said prayer for all of you struggling, the parks employees, cap office and the kids and elders. Those who get to eat this meat will receive medicine and good strength. The winter weathered prayer is strong over a buffalo kill and nothing was wasted. We got the taniga and Tony Brewer cleaned it already. The meat will hang cure for four days and be cut up and the Pine Ridge cap office will have buffalo soup on Christmas day with turkeys. This was a special day.

It was another great Lakota Country Adventure dedicated to our Elders at the Pine Ridge cap Meals for the Elderly. Thank you Parks and Recreation, Pine Ridge Cap and Village reps. May you all have happy holidays.