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REVIVED FROM THE ASHES --Interesting factoids about the N. Kaibab

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I was doing some googling for something else and came across a site about how the Thunder River trail in the GC came into being. You might recall I've mentioned the Big Saddle Camp here a few times. Here are some snippets about it and the N. Kaibab deer. It's a bit of interesting history. -TONY



The story of the Thunder River Trail would not be complete without fleshing out the role that the Churches played in its maintenance. Big Saddle Hunting Camp was built by Hayden Church in the 1920s. His son Jack, and Jack’s wife Mardean, took it over and operated it until the mid 1960s. They also owned the Buckskin Tavern on the state line between Kanab and Fredonia. Although their primary business was the Utah Parks Company, which had concessions to operate mule trips in Bryce, Zion and the North Rim, they hosted hunters and guided hunting trips out of their lodge and several cabins at Big Saddle Camp during the fall.


The Big Saddle facilities are long gone. The smaller cabins were wrecked and burned in 1967. The main lodge was left standing but cut into three sections and moved years ago to its current location at the junction of U. S. 89a and Forest Service road 22 just southeast of Fredonia. It now forms the core for the house just to the southwest of the intersection there.


The Churches operated pack trips into Thunder River from Big Saddle via the Little Saddle route, mostly after hunting season. Their best known wrangler was Walapai Johnny Nelson, whose father was sheriff at Kingman. Johnny also was well known as a heavy drinker. Mardean Church (1992) recalled, "A great guide, people loved him, but had to fire him and rehire 50 times a season." For years, Walapai Johnny maintained the stash of cookware at Cove Camp just down from the junction of Thunder River and Tapeats Creek. His inscription is in the rock shelter beneath the large boulder overlooking the roasting site just west of where the Thunder River Trail drops out of Surprise Valley to Thunder Spring.


The Churches wintered their Utah and Grand Canyon horses and mules on the Esplanade until the mid-1960s. For decades their trail hands did the bulk of the maintenance and even made some improvements on the Thunder River Trail from the canyon rim to Cove Camp. Their hands even did most of the work on the Crazy Jug segment before it was abandoned in the 1950s.


In 1965, Rell Little told me about getting the last of the cattle off the Esplanade sometime in the early 1960s. Another rancher named Johnny Vaughn, who also operated a cattle lease on the Kaibab Plateau, noticed that there were a fair number -- at least a truck load -- of feral cattle down there that they could occasionally see from the rim. Representing found money, they decided to go after them. This they did by taking a couple of docile cows out to Little Saddle, and wrangled them down onto the Esplanade via the Little Saddle Trail. In no time, the wild cattle congregated around the domesticated stock, and the wranglers were able to peacefully walk the entire lot out to the rim with the cows in the lead. They walked the lot right onto the truck without incident, and, the way he told me the story, drove right off to the packing plant to collect their reward. That was the end of cows on the Esplanade over in that country.


David Hansen recalls Kanab in the early 1920's: walking down Main Street, you passed the drug store, and about the only people you would see would be "the old-time cowboys sitting in the sun, boots and Bull Durham tags out their pockets, telling how they worked for Grand Canyon Cattle Company." With an estimated deer population of 50,000 on the Kaibab, the Forest Service declared open season on deer in 1927 or 1928, he recalls. "Any hunter could get 3 bucks only for $5.00. But the deer were very poor and not edible. They had very unusual horns. They were considered trophies."


He recalls attempting deer counts. "We could stop on a ridge on those western slopes, riding through there and whistle and holler and hundreds of deer would file out of a canyon," he said. When the Forest Service declared open season, the State of Arizona filed an injunction and sent deputy sheriffs to arrest the hunters. Forest Service personnel helped the hunters dodge the sheriffs. Finally, a cooperative agreement was reached that allowed hunting only in October and November and required a payment of $4.00 for an Arizona hunting license.


Hunting camps were set up. Two on the east side of the Plateau, one at Kane Springs and one at South Canyon. Three camps on the west side, one at Ryan (checking station), one at Moquitch and one at Big Saddle. Big Saddle was against the rim of the Grand Canyon. A short walk from the camp was Crazy Jug Point, which was a spectacular view of the Grand Canyon. These hunts were very successful, being the first attempt at managing hunting. All hunters registered into a camp. A Forest Ranger and an Arizona Game Warden were in each camp. All the deer were checked out with a special tag. All guns were sealed when entering two checking stations, Ryan and Kane Springs, and unsealed at the Camps. This was a safety measure to keep hunters from shooting deer along the road. Horns were measured and carcass weighed and measured.


The Camps were under Special Use Permits to provide tents, meals, and horses to the hunters, if they so desired, also guides were available. So the hunters could drive in and have all the accommodations that they wanted, which was rather primitive, but satisfactory. In 1929, the hunters came, everything was very prosperous, good cars, and they enjoyed their stay in the Camps, even after bagging their deer.


The 1931 hunt was different because of the depression. A lot of hunters could see a difference in their pocket-books and they were anxious to get meat. After two years of controlled hunting, the deer were still not in good flesh, the average weight in bucks in 1931 was 1351bs., the average weight 10 years later, was 1801bs. By 1941 the forage had improved considerably. However, which is usually the case with winter loss, nature seems to solve the problem, along with hunting.

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Here's some more history -- this on the AZ Strip from two different articles I've writen on it. -TONY


The "good ol' days" mentioned by **** are what made the Strip legendary.


Among the world's trophy hunters, it once had a reputation as lofty as its next door neighbor -- the North Kaibab Plateau. Over a span of about 20 years, the Strip produced some of the best mule deer hunting in the West, and many of the bucks grew to record-book size. In fact, the trophy record book published by the Arizona Wildlife Federation still lists more than 30 typical and non-typical bucks from the Arizona Strip that were killed from the mid-1950s into the early 1980s.


The history of the Strip prior to the early 1900s is somewhat vague. We know the Mormons used timber from Mt. Trumbull to built a temple in St. George, Utah. We also know good populations of pronghorn antelope and desert bighorn sheep inhabited the Strip because local cattle baron Preston Nutter proposed that it be turned into a big-game refuge. Nothing ever came of it, though. And supposedly, Teddy Roosevelt brought a herd of gazelle from Africa and turned them loose somewhere on the Strip. Nobody knows what happened to them either.


But unlike the Kaibab, where the mule deer had been a mainstay back into the 19th century, the Strip herd has a much more recent history.


When Abraham Bundy and his family first arrived in the shadow of the Hurricane Cliffs in 1917, it was nothing but a vast, dry panorama of sagebrush flats and pinyon-juniper forests. The nearest water was miles away on Mt. Trumbull. Yet, despite having to haul water or melt snow, the homesteaders persevered.


Eventually about 40 other families joined the Bundys to settle a few miles from the north rim of the Grand Canyon. Their tiny community, complete with school and church, became Bundyville. They farmed the arid land and even started to raise cattle and sheep once they constructed some cisterns and stock tanks in the surrounding territory.


Pat Bundy was one of Abraham's sons, and according to his accounts seeing a deer in the Strip country was a rarity during the early years of his life. For the most part, much of the land was marginal deer habitat anyway, and the lack of water in what was basically a high-desert environment didn't help.


This all changed when more ranchers began to utilize the Strip country for sheep and cattle grazing. For two decades beginning in about 1930, the ranchers built dozens of stock tanks to ensnare free-running water for their livestock.


In 1947, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service assigned Ted Riggs to the area as a predator control trapper. Using both traps and poison, Riggs made a serious dent in the coyote and lion populations.


Then the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which controls most of land on the Strip except for a few small, private parcels, moved in during the early 1950s to improve the grazing habitat. With a heavy steel chain stretched between them, bulldozers 'chained' down entire stands of juniper and pinyon trees so new forage could sprout.


For the deer's sake, everything came together. The rest, as they say, is history.


Within a few years, the steady supply of water, increased browse and low predation helped the deer herd grow huge, even to the point where it threatened to overrun the available habitat. The Strip literally turned into a deer factory. By the mid-1950s, hunters in Arizona learned about the excellent hunting and trophy-producing ability. Nearly anyone who wanted to venture into the remote area and endure hours of bumpy, dusty roads could tag a buck. If they had the patience and willpower to pass up the smaller ones, they had a very good chance at an outstanding trophy. Because the soil in the area mirrors the same mineral-rich type as that on the North Kaibab, antler growth was sometimes spectacular, with spreads often going well beyond 30 inches. Place names within the Strip such as Poverty Mountain, Mt. Dellenbaugh, Snap Point, Trumbull, Black Rock, Wolfhole and Seegmiller became well known for their big buck production.


At an old line shack near Grassy Mountain, the graffiti-covered walls tell some of the story. In 1966, a local cowboy, Garn Esplin, scribbled, "Saw 40-50 deer in the past two days." Farther down the wall, in March 1963 ranch foreman Mel Wipple wrote, "What's the matter with the deer hunters? There's 10,000 deer here by the look of things."


Even Riggs saw what was happening. In 1956, he rode his horse from the Wildcat Ranch to Snap Point. On the way, he counted deer; his one-day tally totaled 346 of them. More than half of them had antlers, and half of the bucks were four points or more.


Not surprisingly, three of the notable entries in the Arizona record book have Riggs listed as the hunter. His typical entry from 1968 scored 189. His two non-typicals scored 249 6/8 and 240 2/8. His last Strip deer, taken in 1988, was an 8x9 with double eyeguards.


Sadly, sometime in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Strip no longer harbored a lot of deer. A lot of finger pointing occurred, but for the most part, the downward population trend happened because of several factors.


Worried about a repeat of the now infamous debacle where thousands of deer starved on the North Kaibab in the 1920s, the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD) liberalized the seasons and also issued a large number of doe permits. Then in 1972, President Richard Nixon banned the canid poison, Compound 10-80 for use on federal land. This move took away Riggs' most effective predator control. About the same time the coyote population started to grow again, the AGFD gave the mountain lion the status of a big-game animal, thus creating the need for a special tag and an annual limit of one lion per hunter. Finally, the drought that has plagued the state for the last 12-15 years arrived. Together, these factors resulted in a dramatic drop in the total deer population.


At one time, the Strip country west of the North Kaibab comprised a single hunt unit. After the deer numbers started to plummet, however, the game department split Unit 13 into Unit 13 A and 13B for management purposes. The split effectively separated the deer populations around the Mt. Trumbull-Mt. Logan area from those in the Virgin Mountain, Black Rocks and Mudd Mountain area.


Although there are fewer deer, Unit 13B still produces high success rates and ranks as a top trophy area.


SIDEBAR from another article about one of the Governor's tag bucks. Clay Bundy was one of the guides.


The somewhat vague history of the Arizona Strip tells us the first white men to visit the area were Dominguez and Escalante when they traveled along the base of the Hurricane Cliffs on their return trip from central Utah in 1776. Nearly a century later, other Anglos attempted to take advantage of the area's vast land resources, but conflicts with native tribes occurred as the newcomers quickly laid claim to the best water sources and vegetation. Disputes between settlers and the Navajo, Paiute and Ute tribes culminated in the Black Hawk Navajo Wars of 1866-1869. By 1870, Mormon paramilitary action had mostly quelled the native resistance, eventually leading to the "Treaty of Mount Trumbull" and the establishment of several Paiute reservations.


Although the settlers included a colorful array of ranchers, sheepmen, cowboys and outlaws, the majority of the newcomers were Mormons, dispatched by the Church of Latter Day Saints to lay claim to the choicest land and resources before non-Mormons settled them. A number of large ranches were established, as well as a sawmill and a large dairy, and the rights to limited water sources of the region were swiftly claimed, though often without "valid government title." Range wars -- often settled with guns -- were quite common in this lawless frontier, and cattle rustling was a crime with hanging as its punishment.


Immigration to the Strip was encouraged by two events in 1916: the Stock Raising Homestead Act and the opening of a half million acres of Utah's Dixie National Forest to homestead entry. In addition, a climatic shift early in the 20th century brought increased rains and snows, which filled water holes and allowed the grasslands to grow lush.


About the time of the immigration surge to the Strip country, Abraham Bundy and his family had been living in the Mormon colony of Moroles, in the state of Sonora, Old Mexico. But Poncho Villa and the Mexican Revolution of 1912 forced them to seek out a gentler environment. So Abraham brought his wife, eldest son Roy and several daughters to Arizona in 1916, where they settled in an area near the Hurricane Cliffs, not too far from 8,000-ft. Mt. Trumbull. Bundyville, also known as Mt. Trumbull, became the Strip's largest community. Eventually, nearly 300 people lived in the town, which included a schoolhouse that was built in 1922. Roy Bundy just happens to be Clay Bundy’s grandfather, and Clay went to classes until the third grade in Bundyville's tiny schoolhouse.


Today, little remains of Bundyville. The school had been abandoned in the early 1960s, then later restored. It recently burned, but it's demise as part of the Strip's history won't last long. Clay Bundy is a contractor and has already made plans to restore it once again. He also still owns a cabin on a ranch near Bundyville. It sits on land that belonged to Roy Bundy until Clay's father, Orvel, bought it.

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Lots of history north of Grand Canyon, and it's great that you're preserving some of it.


Have you found anything about Charles Jesse "Buffalo" Jones, Jim Emmett, and "Uncle" Jimmy Owens who brought the bison to Houserock? Specifically, was the Game and Fish Department's House Rock Ranch Jones's original ranch or was it somewhere else in the valley?


Emmett ran Lee's Ferry when Jones was trying to breed his cattalo and he and Owens were in partnership with Jones, I think, but I've not found anything to confirm it.


Owens, of course, was the guy who took Teddy Roosevelt hunting on the Kaibab and caught all the lions up there. Jones went on to the arctic and captured muskoxen, then went to Africa with a couple of cowboys, one of them from the Strip named Ambrose Means, and ROPED a lion and a rhino, among other critters.


Bill Quimby

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Yes, Jones was a good friend of Roosevelt's, who appointed him as the first game warden of Yellowstone NP. Jones and writer Zane Gray were also good buddies.


If I recall there are several books around that chronicle a lot of Jones' life.


I wrote an article titled "Then There Were Some,"in the mid-1980s. It was basically about all of the transplants and game introductions that had been done in AZ up to that time. Here's the part about Jones and the buffs. -TONY



The buffalo, both at Raymond Ranch and House Rock, are one more instance of exotic game in the state.


Way back in 1884, a buffalo hunter named Charles J. "Buffalo" Jones captured 57 calves in the Texas Panhandle. He moved about 35 of them to the Kaibab Plateau in 1905 and another 87 in 1906. After three years, Jones lost interest in raising buffalo, so he drove the entire heard into Utah and sold them. Unknowingly, ol' Charlie left some strays behind.


The few remaining buffs became the property of Jim Owens, owner of the Grand Canyon Cattle Company. In 1927, 98 descendants of the original strays roamed the Kaibab. The state, thinking Houserock Valley would be ideal habitat for the buffalo, purchased the herd for $10,000. Since then, the AGFD added a few more animals to keep the herd's genetic balance in tune and transferred some to Raymond Ranch, east of Flagstaff.


The method used to cull the surplus created much controversy when the movie, "Bless The Beasts And The Children," arrived in theaters across the country. Although the picture exaggerated the facts, critics blasted the procedure. The game department instituted a few changes, and now, nary a harsh word is uttered.

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Here's another article I wrote in the 1980s that's strictly about the buffs. -TONY



His name was Charles "Buffalo" Jones. He roamed much of the west and midwest during the late 1800s and the early 1900s. His nickname resulted from his skill at hunting buffalo during the time the American bison roamed the plains by the millions. Although his name might be unfamiliar, his legacy to Arizona remains.


At the turn of the century, Jones came up with a novel idea. He decided to introduce elk and buffalo into Arizona, choosing the North Kaibab Plateau as the site for his experiment.


Jones planned to sell the hunting rights for both species. He also intended to crossbreed the bison with domestic cattle, winding up with a hybrid animal called either a cattalo or beefalo. Supposedly, these critters would provide the same benefits of beef cattle but would be much hardier, capable of living through weather and on land unsuited to domestic stock. Though the elk transplant never materialized, Jones did bring buffalo to Arizona.


Jones and his friend, lion hunter Jim Owens, had captured a herd of buffalo in the Texas panhandle in the 1880s and moved them to Kansas. Later, part of the herd wound up in Monterey, California. Jones transferred 35 from there by way of Lund, Utah to the North Kaibab in 1905. He brought another 87 from the Kansas herd to Arizona a year later.


Jones eventually became disenchanted with raising buffalo and rounded up as many as possible in 1909. He drove the buffs into Utah and sold them. Unknowingly, however, he left some strays behind. These became the property of the Grand Canyon Cattle Company, owned by none other than Jimmie Owens.


By 1927, when the state purchased the herd for $10,000, the stray buffs had increased to 98 animals. The herds inhabiting Houserock Valley and the Raymond Ranch, established in 1945, are the descendants of those.


According to the historians, the American bison might have existed in Arizona during prehistoric times. In contrast, estimates of their numbers living in the rest of the country during the 19th century often mention billions. In reality a truer estimate would be in the millions. When Lewis and Clark explored westward, they told of masses of buffalo, sometimes numbering more than 20,000 within sight of their wagons. The explorers also related how the huge herds darkened the Great Plains and seemingly made the land look like it was constantly moving. Other accounts tell of the concern the settlers had for their own safety as they occasionally used up several days moving their wagons through a single herd.


Before the white man began his move West, the buffalo's only enemy was the American Indian. For them, the big mammal meant survival. The meat from one could feed an entire village for days. The hides became clothing and shelter. Because the buffalo provided these basic necessities of life and were so numerous, the tribes depended on them. They followed a particular herd for months at a time and developed ways to harvest the beasts with the primitive weapons available to them.


Stampeding a herd to its death was a favorite technique. Indians on horseback drove the animals off a steep cliff or into dead-end canyons where they systematically dispatched them with spears or arrows. Some indian hunters covered themselves with a buffalo hide and stalked into the herd or waited patiently for one to come to their imitation call of a calf in distress. Yet, while the indians used the buffalo to survive, the white man was responsible for its downfall.


Expeditions, made up of hunters from eastern America and Europe, came out west with the express idea of slaughter in mind. To them, the final tally of dead bison on the ground was a sign of their success.


When train travel across the Great Plains later became a reality, the slaughter continued. While crews laid the tracks for the iron horses, hired buffalo hunters kept them supplied with meat. Usually, they removed only the choice parts and left the rest to rot or as food for scavengers.


Once completed, the railroads provided a new sport. Shooting the animals from a slow-moving train turned into the entertainment of choice for westward-bound passengers. Naturally, given the weapons of the day and inexperience of those shooting the large creatures, many buffalo died a lingering death after being wounded.


Then in the 1870s, a new boom helped put the American bison closer to extinction. With the advent of a revolutionary tanning process, the trade in buffalo hides expanded. The leather was far more durable than cowhide, and the grand buffalo population made it fairly easy to obtain. Both the white man and Indian quickly entered the hide-trading market. While the Indians continued to use the entire buffalo, the white hunters usually removed the hide and left the rest. Most hides were shipped off to Europe for tanning.


In 1884, Congress finally passed legislation protecting the buffalo from further damage. Unfortunately, by then it was too late. The slaughter had taken its toll earlier. Already in 1883, few bison remained on the Great Plains. Some historians say the population in the U.S. had dropped below 800. Since than, the buffalo number has increased to about 30,000 in North America. Thanks to Charlie Jones, about 200 now live in Arizona.


The first state-authorized buffalo hunt occurred in 1927 at Houserock. The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD), the new custodians for the animals, handed out 17 special permits and took the lucky hunters onto the buffalo range to kill an animal. Every year since then, the department has allowed the state's sportsmen to cull the excess animals in this way.


Although most fully grown bison average between 1,500 and 2,000 pounds, some can weigh 2,500 pounds or more, Consequently, killing one in the field was merely the beginning of the hard work to follow. The animal had to be skinned, quartered and transported back to the ranch headquarters. Considering the weight and bulk of the buffalo, this sometimes was difficult. In 1962, no doubt to ease some of the post-kill chore, the AGFD drastically changed the hunting method. The result was a hunt more appropriately called a "shoot."


Each hunter who drew a permit also received a date and time for the "shoot." The department then rounded up the excess animals for culling and placed them in a large corral. Here, the "hunters" waited in three-man relays to shoot in the order their permits specified.


The first hunter took his choice of three animals that were moved into the shooting pen. The second killed one of the remaining two buffalo, and the last hunter wound up with the third. A top shooter from the game department served as a back-up if a hunter only wounded his target.


For the price of the permit, the AGFD provided the skinning and processing and gave the hunter the head, hide and one quarter of the meat. He also had the option of buying the rest of the meat for the same price per quarter as the permit fee. If he passed, anyone willing to pay the price could buy the meat.


In 1973, the corral shoot became the focus of much controversy when the movie "Bless The Beasts And The Children" showed in America's theaters. The AGFD had allowed the filming to take place during one of the hunts. Unfortunately, the filmmakers had shrouded their intentions in a bit of mystery. The final editing made the hunt appear like an inhumane slaughter and raised the hackles of people across the nation.


In reality, though truly not a hunt, the procedure was efficient. Dispatching a wounded buffalo was easy, permit holders had a 100 percent success and the harvesting of surplus animals was exact. Because of the criticism, however, the department reacted by returning to the earlier method.


Another change came about in 1981. The price of a permit went up, and hunters kept the entire animal. The "Catch 22" was each hunter now shouldered the responsibility for taking care of his trophy; no longer did the department provide skinning and processing.


A year later, the first REAL buffalo hunt occurred at Houserock Valley. A permit holder no longer would have a game department employee holding his hand in the field. The entire process of killing a buff and getting it out of the field became the hunter's responsibility.


Because fences surround Houserock Ranch to keep the buffalo from roaming across northern Arizona, the hunt sounds quite easy. In fact, it can be very difficult. The ranch encompasses about 60,000 acres, including some rugged hills, deep canyons and large stands of trees. To make matters worse, the Arizona Wilderness Act of 1984 converted a large chunk of the ranch into part of a national wilderness area --- closing it to vehicle use. Thus, a hunter within the wilderness boundaries must either ride a horse or walk. Of course, when he kills a buffalo he must get it out the same way.


At Raymond Ranch, the first hunt occurred in 1950. Because of its size --- about 14,700 acres --- all hunts remain like the original one at Houserock. An AGFD employee goes afield with the hunter to help him harvest a buff.


Beginning with the 1989 season, nonresident hunters may take part in the state buffalo hunt for the first time. The new regulation limits the number of nonresident permits to 10 percent of the total available in any calendar year. It also stipulates no more than 50 percent or two tags for a hunt number will go to out-of-staters.


Fortunately for residents, the nonresident fee might discourage some applicants. The price for an adult bull or any buffalo is $3,750. One specifically for a cow will cost $2,250, and a calf permit will be $1,200. In comparison, a resident pays $750, $450 and $240 respectively.


Amazingly, the odds of drawing a tag are not as bad as some people believe. Although the permits usually average about 50 a year, first choice applicants have about a one-in-six chance of being drawn. Compared to some of the elk and sheep hunts, those are pretty decent odds.


Arizona's buffalo population averages about 200, about equally divided between the two ranches. The number of permits normally reflect how many animals must be harvested so the herd remains within the limits their habitat can support.


In 1987, the department authorized 41 permits --- 26 at Raymond Ranch and 15 at Houserock. First choice applications numbered 217. Last year, about 300 hunters vied for the 61 permits available for the October season.


Although the buffalo population and present day hunting pales compared to what they were a century ago, we should be thankful the magnificent animal still survives. We should also be thankful to Charlie "Buffalo" Jones. Without his folly, the bison, in all probability, never would have set foot in Arizona.


----- 30 -----

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"Yes, Jones was a good friend of Roosevelt's, who appointed him as the first game warden of Yellowstone NP. Jones and writer Zane Gray were also good buddies. If I recall there are several books around that chronicle a lot of Jones' life."





Jones got pissed big time at Roosevelt when the president visited Yellowstone and refused to hunt lions with him, or even to see Jones at the park. One of the things Jones did to get back at Teddy (there were other things, too) was to hook up with a wealthy political foe of Roosevelt who wanted to pooh-pooh Roosevelt's highly publicized African safari.


Funded by Roosevelt's enemy, Jones and two cowboys from Arizona and Texas went off to Africa to try to rope many of the animals Teddy shot with rifles. Their horseback "hunts" were filmed and the movies were shown across America.


I have been writing a book about Jones in my spare time over the past three or four years, but may never get to finish it if new clients keep knocking on my door (I hope they never stop). In doing the research I collected the six books written about Jones, including two by Zane Gray. I also have the early magazine articles written about his two African expeditions.


His African movies can be seen at a museum in Kansas devoted to his feats ... he began as a commercial buffalo hunter, rode in the Great Oklahoma Land Rush, served briefly as Yellowstone's first game warden (until he quit in anger when Roosevelt snubbed him and he was ignored by U.S. Army officers who also had responsibility for anti-poaching), rode in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Circus, worked the lecture circuit across the USA, brought bison from Texas, Montana, Canada and elsewhere to Arizona, and roped critters in the arctic and Africa.


He was a busy guy. It was a shame that he became an anti-hunter as he aged.


It would be nice to know more about what went on at House Rock. Jim Owens and Jim Elliott originally were partners with Jones in the buffalo experiment, but they had a falling out, and Owen's' company fenced off the waters that were being used by Elliott's cattle. Elliott won the lawsuit, but Owens won the war when his investors bought the Lees Ferry operation and forced Elliott to selll his cattle and move away.


I'd like to know if Game and Fish's House Rock property was originally owned by Jones, Owens and Elliott. Zane Gray's book shows a a photo of a log cabin, so their ranchhouse must have been higher on the mountain or else they had to pack the logs for it a long way. I don't remember seeing a log cabin or any remnants of one the two times I was there.


Bill Quimby

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All interesting tidbits of a great time in history when men were men and boys often were, too. :lol:


I found these other snippets in various places. Maybe something in them you can use.


The Arizona Game and Fish Commission operates Buffalo Ranch in southern House Rock Valley, maintaining a herd of about 200 buffalo. The ranch originated around the turn of the century, under the management of Charles Jesse Jones, or "Buffalo" Jones, who experimented with cattalo, the hybrid offspring of cattle and buffalo. The experiment was unsuccessful, but ultimately produced a viable herd of buffalo, the descendants of which now live at Buffalo Ranch, free ranging in the grassy valley.



Crampton and Rusho (1992) also wrote that south of Paria Canyon in House Rock Valley, two men named Uncle Jim Owens and Buffalo Jones, established a Buffalo Ranch in the early 1900s. The original intent of the ranch was to produce hybrid offspring from buffalo and cattle called cattalo. The attempt failed, but today the buffalo herd is managed by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. The Buffalo Ranch is 22-miles south of U.S. Highway 89A, and can be reached by USFS Road 8910.



And then there was Charles Jesse "Buffalo" Jones. In 1901, Jones was appointed by his friend Theodore Roosevelt as the first game warden of Yellowstone National Park. He was an ex-buffalo hunter turned buffalo conservationist. In 1906, Jones established a ranch and game preserve at House Rock Valley, at the north rim of Grand Canyon, where his efforts to maintain buffalo stock included crossbreeding them with cattle to produce "cattalo." He also tried to "break bison to the harness" and use them to pull wagons, succeeding with a few animals. Jones was often pictured in a buckboard pulled by "Lucky Knight."


In 1907, on a fundraising tour in New York, Jones spoke of the West, the buffalo, the mountain lions' and adventure. Among the audience was a little-known dentist from Ohio -- a fledgling writer and a newlywed who had spent his honeymoon at the Grand Canyon just the year before. His name was Zane Grey.




In 1877, John D. Lee was executed for his role in the massacre, the only Mormon ever held acountable. Ownership of the ferry operation fell into the hands of Lee's wife, Emma, a capable woman who operated the ferry and farmed the ranch for several years. By this time, the Mormon Church was well aware of the importance of Lees Ferry as a link between settlements in Arizona and Utah. In 1879, the Church bought the ferry rights from Emma Lee for $3,000, and sent Warren Marshall Johnson and his plural families to the ferry to take over operations.


The years from 1876 to 1890 were the busiest ever for the ferry operation. Successful Mormon colonization along the Little Colorado River in Arizona funneled increased emigrations through Lees Ferry. In addition, the completion of the Mormon Temple in St. George, Utah brought Mormon couples from Arizona settlements to have their marriages solemnized in the temple, earning the road in between the informal title, "The Honeymoon Trail." Ferriage fees for Mormon travelers at the time were $2.00 per wagon, $1.00 per horse and rider, and $0.25 per head of stock, while non-Mormons paid about 50% more. After the Church's cut of the fees, the remainder were used to support the ranch, maintain roads, rebuild washed out dams, build new boats, and otherwise improve the operation.


Johnson left the ferry in 1896 and the Church replaced him with Jim Emett, who immediately set to work installing a heavy track cable across the river to guide the ferryboat across. The cable system remained in use for the remainder of the ferry's history, rendering the lower ferry site useless. Emett also finished a dugway (a road built into a steep slope) that served as the main highway to the ferry for the next thirty years, despite the fact that the road was narrow and prone to rockfalls and washouts.


Emett eventually came head to head with the powerful Grand Canyon Cattle Company, who aggressively tried to control the rangeland and water holes of nearby House Rock Valley, east of the ferry on the Arizona Strip, even though the lands were public domain. Emett repeatedly cut fences erected by the company in order to allow his own cattle access to the range. The company unsuccessfully sued Emett for cattle rustling. Undaunted, the company retaliated by buying the ferry from the Mormon Church and putting Emett out of business in 1909. For a short time, cowhands from the company operated the ferryboat. Unimpressed with the company's operation of the ferry and adamant that the ferry remain a link in Arizona's highway system, Coconino County bought the ferry in 1910. The sons of Warren Johnson took over ferry operations for the county, remaining at the ranch with their families until the end of the ferry days.




House Rock and House Rock Spring


Located north 6 miles up the House Rock Valley road from 89A. In 1871, Dellenbaugh writes, "About sunset we passed two large boulders which had fallen together forming a shelter under which Riggs or some one else had slept. They had printed above it with charcoal the words 'Rock House Hotel.' Afterwards Jacob Hamblin and others referred to it as 'House Rock' or 'House Rock Valley.' So we called it by that name. A few yards away at the head of a gulch was a fine spring."






In the early days the Kaibab Plateau was a great Indian

hunting ground. Every fall the Indians would gather to a

great ceremonial feast and take skins for winter clothing,

and meat for winter food. Old timers in the Kaibab country

state that they have seen great numbers of deer carcasses in

piles at the Indian camps -- as many as a thousand carcasses

in one camp. The white men also took great numbers of deer

in the days of the early settlement. So great was the quantity

of deerskins that actually came off the Kaibab each year

that it was known as "Buckskin Mountain." Old timers say this

condition prevailed up to the creation of the game preserve.

There were also large numbers of mountain lions, which took

their toll of deer.


Major Powell, who explored the Grand Canyon in 1870,

named the plateau Kaibab for a small, almost extinct tribe of

Indians of the Pah Ute family who were living in that vicinity.

The name Kaibab is of Indian origin and means "mountain lying



The area was withdrawn as a National Forest in early

1893, and enlarged in 1905, to include the present area.

United Odred of Orderville, a cooperative group associated

with the Mormon Church, developed the first extensive livestock

use. Messrs. Thompson and Van Sleck, eastern stockmen,

who established the TV brand, purchased their interests.

About 1887 their stock was purchased by John W. Young, son

of Brigham Young of Salt Lake City. The holdings of the latter

were taken over by Cannon & Grant of Salt Lake City in 1893

through the redemption of bonds and were managed for them

by Anthony W. Ivins, First Counselor to a past president of the

Mormon Church. Farnsworth and Fotheringham then

acquired it and sold to B. F. Saunders who later sold to the

Grand Canyon Cattle Company. The latter company brought

in Mexican cattle running the Z brand.


John C. Nagle of Toquerville, whose outfit later was split up

among many local people, developed the west side ranges. It

is reported that in 1887 and 1889 at least 200,000 sheep and

20,000 cattle were using the range in the surrounding desert

country and the Kaibab Mountain. The grass was at first very

abundant and stock thrived. Many horses were raised and

excellent stallions brought in. John W. Young in 1888 took

about 1,000 head of horses across the river at Lee's Ferry and

sold them in Northern Arizona. Several dairy ranches, which

made cheese, were in operation at one time on the Plateau.

For some time after the establishment of the National

Forest little restriction was made on the grazing use. The

ranges on the east and west sides were eventually separated

by drift fences as were other units, with camps and cabins at

most all of the available water holes or springs. Much of the

early supervision was directed toward better control of seasonal

use and a check on the actual number of stock using the



The Grand Canyon National Game Preserve was created

in Nov, 1906, and included about the same area as the Kaibab

National Forest north of Grand Canyon. President Theodore

Roosevelt was always intensely interested in the wildlife of the

region and in July 1913, hunted mountain lions on the Kaibab

Plateau with Uncle Jim Owens as his guide.


As soon as the National Game Preserve was created, all

killing of deer was prohibited and Government hunters were

employed to kill mountain lions and coyotes. Uncle Jim

Owens claims to have killed more than 600 lions from 1907 to

1919. Removal of natural enemies permitted the deer to

increase up to the limit of the food supply. The peak in numbers

was reached in 1924. The first realization of the area

being overstocked with deer was in the fall of 1919 and the

spring of 1920.


When the National Game Preserve was created around

3,000 deer existed on the North Kaibab, and no hunting was

allowed from 1906 to 1924. On seeing the danger signs of

over population, the Forest Service created an action program

which involved an investigating committee made up of representatives

of the American Game Protective Association, the

National Association of Audubon Societies, the Boone and

Crockett Club, National Parks Association, and the American

Livestock Breeders Association.


Their recommendations were: 1. Trap the deer and ship

elsewhere; 2. Open the area to hunting under regulation; 3. If

the first two failed, have Government officials destroy the deer.

They estimated 26,000 deer were on the area and local ranchers

reported 100,000 deer.


A number of people thought the deer could be driven in a

herd to other areas of Arizona. George McCormick, of

Flagstaff, was financed by leading citizens and clubs of

Flagstaff to deliver not less than 3,000 nor more than 8,000

deer to the south rim of the Grand Canyon and receive compensation

at the rate of $2.50 for each deer delivered. The

route of travel was from South Canyon to Saddle Canyon,

down into Nankoweep Canyon, across the Colorado River,

and up the old Tanner Trail to the south rim. In December,

1924, an attempt using 125 men strung out on foot and

horseback to assist was made but ended up with the deer all

behind instead of ahead of them.


Other methods used were catching, rearing and shipping

of fawns from 1925 to 1932. Local people were paid by the

Forest Service to catch fawns, raise them on cows' milk until

fall, then turn them back to the Forest Service for shipment to

private or public parks in other places. More than 900 fawns

were shipped to 34 states at payment of $15-$30 a head to

those who raised them.


Another method was to trap live deer and ship them to

other ranges. The trapping operation was successful as to

handling the deer and placing them on other ranges, but the

number that could be removed in any one year was very small.

In December 1928, Government employees on both east

and west side winter ranges killed deer. The Supreme Court

of the United States gave authority for this. All the deer killed

were in very poor condition, and many were too poor to be utilized.

Much of the meat was delivered to the Indian schools at

Tuba City and Leupp, and to the settlers of Fredonia,

Houserock, and Kanab.


The most practical and successful method of removal is by

sportsmen and has been carried on since 1924 in cooperation

between the Arizona Game & Fish Commission and the Forest



In the winter of 1947-48 turkey were planted on the Kaibab

from a trapping program on the Sitgreaves National forest and

has been most successful.


South Canyon is the home of a herd of about 200 buffalo.

A hunt is held every year on this herd, which is the descendents

of the herd that Uncle Jimmy Owen brought to the

Kaibab years ago.


The money from the special $5 Kaibab deer permit sold

each hunter is used for wildlife management work such as

juniper control, aspen control, browse reseeding, cutting

spruce-fir from parks, water development and etc. This

amount averages about $30.000 a year. This article about the

history, management and importance of the North Kaibab was

written because of the sportsmen's unfailing interest in that



The Encyclopedia of Frontier Biograpgy has a decent bio of Jones' life.


Another interesting read: Buckskin Mountain

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I pulled this thread out of the mothballs, thinking some of the newer CWT members might enjoy this "look back at history'" contained within. 

Feel free to add your own memories of the Kaibab/Strip area. 

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Outdoor Writer, thanks for bringing these articles back from 2008.  I have never seen them until now and they're great articles. I really like reading about the past deer herds on the Kaibab, and Strip.

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4 hours ago, AZ11 said:

Outdoor Writer, thanks for bringing these articles back from 2008.  I have never seen them until now and they're great articles. I really like reading about the past deer herds on the Kaibab, and Strip.

Reading about some of the Kaibab history brings back some special memories for me, especially the area in & around the Big Saddle Camp, which still sort of existed the first couple times I hunted there. It wasn't until LBJ took office and Ladybird went on her "Beautify America" rampage that the BSC became no more.

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On 2/4/2008 at 4:52 PM, Outdoor Writer said:


Although the settlers included a colorful array of ranchers, sheepmen, cowboys and outlaws, the majority of the newcomers were Mormons, dispatched by the Church of Latter Day Saints to lay claim 


Immigration to the Strip was encouraged by two events in 1916: the Stock Raising Homestead Act and the opening of a half million acres of Utah's Dixie National Forest to homestead entry. In addition, a climatic shift early in the 20th century brought increased rains and snows, which filled water holes and allowed the grasslands to grow lush.


About the time of the immigration surge 

Excellent article Tony. I enjoyed it very much. Because I couldn’t resist, I would provide edits for the paragraphs above...

Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter Day Saints (a simple but important distinction to members)

Emigration ilo of immigration

Thanks for sharing!

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2 hours ago, Flatlander said:

Excellent article Tony. I enjoyed it very much. Because I couldn’t resist, I would provide edits for the paragraphs above...

Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter Day Saints (a simple but important distinction to members)

Emigration ilo of immigration

Thanks for sharing!

I took the easy route i.e. mirroring LDS instead of JCLDS. 🙄 Emigration would apply to those from this country, but I think immigration applied to those from Mexico. 

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