Wyatt Earp History Page

Wyatt Earp

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Buffalo Hunting

    Wyatt Earp told Stuart Lake that he hunted buffalo in during 1871 and 1872.  Most writers and researcher initially accepted as true Wyatt's claims of hunting buffalo. Nonetheless, recent discoveries of Earp's activities around this period have caused some researchers to question Wyatt's buffalo hunting claims.

    Stuart Lake met with Earp and scribbled out some note of their discussions.  
Lake's notes state the following about Wyatt's buffalo hunting adventures during 1871: "Spring 71 - until fall hunted Buffalo, Wint of 71-2."  So, according to Lake's notes, Wyatt hunted during 1871 from March until September, then from December 1871 to March 1872.  Yet, we know that Wyatt wasn't hunting buffalo in the Spring of 1871 because he was arrested and jailed on a horse theft charge on April 6, 1871.  And Wyatt wasn't hunting buffalo throughout the 1871-72 Winter months because he was arrested in Peoria during February 1872.

    Still, Wyatt Earp was not consistent about when the hunting season began and ended.  According to Lake's notes, Wyatt also claimed that the hunting season was from: "Sept 1 - April 1." In one instance he states he hunted until Fall and took a short break.  In another, he states he hunted during the fall and took the summer off.

    The current evidence for Wyatt's whereabouts from May 1871 to late September 1872 places Wyatt residing in Peoria or the surrounding communities during 1872. Wyatt was arrested in Peoria at least three times: February 1872, May 1872 and late September 1872.   Earp was also detained in Henry, Illinois during August 1872. So it seem more likely that Wyatt Earp was working the prostitution trade in Illinois throughout 1872 rather than hunting buffalo.  If the hunting season started around September 1, shouldn't he have already taken a fast train west to Kansas long before he was captured floating on the Beardstown Gunboat in September 1872?

    If Wyatt Earp did, in fact, hunt buffalo, it seems more likely that Wyatt hunted buffalo during 1873-1874, just prior to his going to Wichita.  Perhaps Wyatt simply extended his buffalo hunting backward to 1871-1872 to cover his Peoria escapades. He used a similar ploy to cover his tracks from allegations made against him in Missouri and Arkansas from November 1869 to Spring 1871--
claiming he was part of a government survey team (which also hunted buffalo). Nevertheless, no contemporary evidence has been presented that shows Wyatt Earp hunted buffalo at all as a profession.


Your host is Steve Gatto, author of The Real Wyatt Earp (Edited by Neil Carmony) (2000), Johnny Ringo (2002), Curly Bill, Tombstone's Most Famous Outlaw (2003).  Steve's latest work, Hurled Into Eternity, The Story of Wyatt Earp and the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral has not yet been released.

Portions of the text appearing on this site come from the above books.
"bravery and determination were requisites, and in every instance proved himself the right man in the right place."  Tombstone Epitaph