Buffalo Skinners

TITLE: Buffalo Skinners
AUTHOR: unknown
CATEGORY: Traditional, Public Domain
KEYWORDS: work, homicide, boss, revenge
HISTORICAL REFERENCES: When the western plains of the United States were home to great buffalo herds, hunted almost to extinction in the 19th century.

The American Bison“The Buffalo Skinners” (“The Hills of Mexico”) is a traditional American folk song. It tells the story of an 1873 buffalo hunt on the southern plains, the year that professional buffalo hunters from Dodge City first entered the northern part of the Texas panhandle. It is thought to be based on the song Canaday-I-O

The Buffalo Skinners is an American folk song which first appeared in John Lomax’s Cowboy Songs, and Other Frontier Ballads in 1918. The song tells of crew of men hired in Jacksboro, Texas to go buffalo hunting north of the Pease River.

The song goes through many verses telling a humorous tale of the trials and tribulations they find on the hunt. The next to the last verse tells of how the trip ended. (wikipedia)

See also: On the Trail of The Buffalo Skinners


  • The Range of the Buffalo
  • On the Trail to Mexico
  • The Boggy Creek
  • The Buffalo Song
  • Canada-i-o

RECORDINGS: (mp3’s available through Amazon.com)



Buffalo Skinners

‘Twas in the town of Jacksboro, in the year of ’73
That a man by the name of Kreggo came walking up
to me
Saying how you doing young feller and would you like to go
To spend the summer pleasantly on the range of the buffalo

Me being out of employment, to Kreggo I did say
This summer on the buffalo range depends upon the pay
For if you pay good wages, transportation to and fro’
It’s likely I’ll go with you to the range of the buffalo

Yes I ‘ll pay good wages, and transportation too
If you’ll agree to work for me until the season’s through
But if you do get home sick and you try to run away
You’ll starve to death on the buffalo range, & also lose your pay

With all this fancy talking he set up quite a plan
Some ten or twelve in number , all able bodied men
Our trip it was a pleasant one as we hit the westward road
Until we reached Las Cruces in old New Mexico

Well then our pleasures ended and our troubles they begun
When lightning  struck the wagon boys and made the buffalo run
A thousand head breathin’fire, stam peding they did go
And outlaws waiting to pick us off from the hills of Mexico

Well the working season ended but the drover would not pay
He said ‘you boys  been  extravagant , you’re all in debt to me’
But the cowboys never heard such a thing as a bankrupt drover-o
So they left him  never to return from the hills of Mexico

Across the Rio Grande and homeward we are bound
No one on this buffalo range will ever more be found
Go home to your wives and sweet hearts, tell others not to go
To spend the summer pleasantly on the range of the buffalo


  • Folk Song Index: A Comprehensive Guide to the Florence E. Brunnings Collection, Florence E. Brunnings, Garland Publishing, Inc., New York and London 1981—Amazon Books
  • Country Music Sources: A Biblio-Discography of Commercially Recorded Traditional Music, Guthrie T. Meade, Jr. with Dick Spottswood and Douglas S. Meade, Southern Folklife Collection, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries, NC 2002—Amazon Books


NOTICE: I’m not the best guitar player or vocalist, but no one loves these songs more than I do. The tune and lyrics are in the public domain unless otherwise noted. The recording © copyright 2013 by Stephen Griffith and may be used by permission of the copyright holder. The variation of the song I’m posting is the version I perform and is not exactly replicating the sources cited, but is always in the same song family. If anyone has more details about this song, or believes I’ve stated something in error, please let me know. I’m also open to suggestions to improve the site. Thanks. sgg

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