Mountain Men and Life in the Rocky

Subject Guide


Mountain West

Malachite’s Big Hole

Butchering a Buffalo:

"The process of butchering was a new development of that most useful science.  The carcass was first turned upon the belly, and braced to a position by its distended legs.  The operator then commenced his labors by gathering the long hair of the "boss" and severing a piece obliquely at the junction of the neck and shoulders, -then parting the hide from neck to rump, a few passes of his ready knife laid bare the sides, -next paring  away the loose skin and preparing a hold, with one hand he pulled the shoulder towards him and with the other severed it from the body; -cutting aslant the uprights of the spina dorsi and "hump ribs," along the lateral to the curve, and parting the "fleece" from the tough flesh at that point he deposited it upon a clean grass-spot. 

The same process being described upon the opposite side, the carcass was then slightly inclined, and, by aid of the leg-bone bisected at the knee joint, the "hump-ribs" were parted from the vertebrae; after which, passing his
knife aside the ninth rib and around the ends at the midriff, he laid hold of the dissevered side, and, with two or three well directed jerks, removed it to be laid upon his choicely assorted pile; a few other brief  minutia then completed the task."
The picture is by Alfred Jacob Miller, entitled "Taking the Hump Rib" made while accompanying William Drummond Stewart as an artist in 1837.
See also the 1837 Rendezvous.  The above description is from Rocky Mountain Life by Rufus Sage.