Remembering a royal hunt

Pure Nebraska
Published: Apr. 19, 2022 at 12:03 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 19, 2022 at 12:06 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - During a visit to the Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park, we learned about a time when the Grand Duke Alexis of Russia came to Nebraska for a bison hunt.

Adam Jones is the superintendent at Buffalo Bill’s Ranch, and he talked about it with us. “The Grand Duke Alexis came to America on a good will tour in 1871,” Jones said. “While he was at the White House doing a reception, General Phil Sheridan approached him about going on a buffalo hunt. Alexis jumped at the chance. So, they loaded in a Union Pacific train, and came out this way.”

The hunt took place in what is modern-day Hayes County, north of McCook. “Sheridan asked Buffalo Bill if he could lead the hunt,” Jones said. “They met up with him about a mile north of Red Willow Creek. That’s where they camped, and this was between January 13th and 15th of 1872. Alexis turned 22 on the 14th of January, so he was also doing this for his birthday. Bill invited about 100 members of the Brule Sioux Nation, along with Chief Spotted Tail, to take part. They went out on the hunt. Bill gave Alexis his prized rifle Lucretia, and he dropped one. It was one of the biggest ones there. He was happy, they celebrated, and opened champagne. Alexis invited Bill and his family to come to Russia. He gave Bill a sack of gold, furs and other things.”

The hunt happened right after Nebraska became a state, but the area would have been like the frontier. “It was a big deal for him to come out here at that time,” Jones said. There is a painting at the park that features the hunt, and it’s something you can see. You can also ask more about the buffalo hunt at the park. “Along on the hunt were two of the other Georges, George Custer and George Forsyth. So there were several generals there.” You can see a marker where the hunt took place in Hayes County. “It’s about a mile north of Red Willow Creek, down by McCook,” Jones said.

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