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Buffalo Wallow Fishing

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Buffalo Wallow Fishing

Written by G. W. Bailey in the Brookfield Argus, March 20, 1936.

My recent letter, "Wild Games Days in Linn County", wherein I referred to the fishing in the prairie holes, and compared them to the buffalo wallows on the plains, has been published and commented on extensively in the country press of North Missouri. We have no proof of the buffaloes having made these fishing holes, but during my early days' experience on the west plains from the South Plains of Texas to the Dakotas on the north, I heard the old plainsmen, the cattle men, explain how the buffaloes would start these prairie holes by wallowing in the low lands, and when the rains came they washed away the dirt and left what they called buffalo wallows.

This appears very reasonable, and it is my opinion these early day prairie holes in North Missouri were started before the land was plowed, as the prairie then was one vast sod of how old no one knew. When the farmers came from Virginia and Kentucky, they settled in the timber lands, and the prairies were not cultivated until during the latter part of the seventies. When the land was plowed, the loose soil soon spoiled our fishing holes. On the branch leading out of New Boston, about one fourth a mile from town, was a very large prairie hole where black perch were caught in great numbers, while down the stream another one-half mile was a buffalo wallow where sun perch were caught. Then over on the prairie lands of Dr. S. J. Cantwell, one of the pioneer physicians of White Township in Macon County, we boys often fished, and in one prairie hole we caught black perch, and in the other one sun perch, but from whence they came, and how they were stocked has never been satisfactorily explained. Alfred Moore, a well known citizen of east Linn County, says an the farm of John Will Pace, about twelve miles north of St. Catherine, was a large prairie hole where only cat fish could be caught . I visited Dr. Cantwell and spent a day and a night with him at his home in Platte county in the fall of 1885, after I had spent considerable time in the west plains, and he too agreed with me that it was very probable the prairie holes were made by the buffaloes, the same as in the Western country. I also enjoyed many talks with the late Captain John M. London, farmer, lawyer, and statesman of Macon county, who made many trips to the plains country, and as far northwest as Washington and Oregon, and was well known as a big game hunter, and Captain London agreed with me that the prairie holes in Missouri were nothing more nor less than the buffalo wallows so extensively seen in the Midwest.