Around the far side the Indians, built a corral of horizontal logs and vertical posts. Sharpened stakes were angled across the bottom log with their points projecting in to prevent a trapped herd from jamming against the fence and pushing it over.
A "caller" would then imitate a buffalo calf wearing a buffalo robe over his head, in an attempt to lure the herd to entrance of the trap. When the buffalo started moving, Indian drivers upwind and behind them made noises, frightening the herd into a run over the hill and into the corral. The trapped herd would then be closed in for hunters to kill the animals with clubs, arrows, and lances.
Off A Sheer Cliff
Shortly thereafter, the thundering herd would plummet off the cliff, ending in a mass of dead and crippled beasts at the foot of the cliff. There, the hunters finished them off, and the women set immediately to skinning them, since any meat not cut, sliced, and placed on drying racks by morning would spoil.
Buffalo Jumps Near Bighorn Canyon
A Successful Hunt
Scraping hides was a very tedious job, requiring time and devotion. A woman may have taken up to seven months to scrape a hide. Buffalo-hide moccasins sometimes were left rough, without scraping. In winter, ice would accumulate on the bottom, becoming the thick, protective layer for the soles of their footwear.
From the hide, they would also produce moccasin tops, cradles, winter robes, bedding, breechcloths, shirts, leggings, lance covers, belts, dresses, pipe bags, pouches, paint bags, dolls, tipi covers, and guncases. Each tipi took 14 hides.
The many, varied uses of the buffalo whether for food, clothing, or day to day items shows why the buffalo and buffalo jumps was a central feature of Crow life in the Bighorn Canyon area and the Northern Plains.
Last updated: February 24, 2015