Hunting Buffalo Near the Apache Ranchería

On February 5,1684, the Menodoza-Lopez expedition traveled along the river (likely the Middle Concho), hunting buffalo along the way. The Spanish and native peoples accompanying the party killed 60 of the animals by means of a surround. Camp was set up in a clearing “framed by large groves of lofty pecan and oak trees." The group stayed at the site for several days, awaiting word from their spies who were looking for the Apache who had stolen nine of their horses. The spies reported they had found the Apache ranchería nearby, but apparently it was an old, abandoned one, with old tracks remaining.

The expedition diarist reported there were a great quantity of turkeys and other game there at the campsite (likely just west of modern-day San Angelo), and the water source was “a beautiful river that flowed eastward.” While at this site, members of the expedition, again hunting in surround, killed an additional 43 buffalo. In the surround method, hunters on foot and on horseback form a large circle around the herd and gradually decrease the diameter of the circle. In that way, hunters can effectively kill the animals and prevent most of the herd from running.

This account derives from translations of the Mendoza-Lopez expedition diary included in The Native Americans of the Edwards Plateau by Mariah Wade (UT-Press 2003).

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Buffalo bulls. Drawing by Hal Story.

Wild turkeys. Photo courtesy Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.