William A. Buman's
A story about culture, travel, and adventure.
The Hunt of a Lifetime
Written by Tom Buman, grandson of William A. Buman
As the grizzly charged, Grandpa emptied his rifle, striking the bear 5 out of 5 times. While reloading his Winchester 1895, he jammed his rifle and could only watch as the wounded animal continued his assault. Luckily, the charging grizzly collapsed a mere 20 feet from him.
One beautiful, sunny morning, Grandpa followed the hunting guide across a glacier as they scouted for mountain sheep. Returning to camp required they retrace their steps and cross the same glacier again. By then, the afternoon sun had softened the snow bridges over the glacial crevasses. The guide, leading the way, safely crossed the snow bridge. As Grandpa crossed, he broke through the snow bridge plunging into a crevasse running full of icy water. As he was sinking into the bone chilling meltwater, it was only quick actions of the guide that saved Grandpa’s life. Equipped with caulks, the guide was able to get to the edge of the crevasse and pull Grandpa to safety.
After getting 16” of snow, Grandpa walked 10 miles in the snow scouting for mountain sheep. The sun reflecting off the white snow caused Grandpa to go snowblind. For three days, he had to keep his eyes covered so they would heal. On one of those days, travel by horseback was required to get back to main camp. As a last resort, the guide strapped Grandpa to the horse so that he would not fall off. Unable to see, Grandpa was resigned to giving his horse its head, allowing his horse to follow the other horses. Only after reaching their camp did the other members of the hunting party tell Grandpa about the perilous trip through the rocky, mountainous terrain that day.
These are the stories I remember Dad passing on to us, as told to him by his dad, about his big game hunting trip to Yukon/Alaska in 1920.
My Grandpa, William A. Buman, died in 1952, 8 years before I was born. Never hearing first-hand of his adventures, these stories are legendary within our family. Over the past 2 years, working to put together the memorabilia of this trip, I have been able to confirm that each of these three stories is true in some fashion. It makes me hungry for more tales. But as families age, the memories fade, with only two living aunts having memories of their dad’s stories, most other tales are only left to my imagination. This site serves as a way to keep the stories of Grandpa's incredible adventures alive for many generations to come.
A Special Thanks...
None of this work would have been possible without the early efforts of other family members. After Grandpa died in 1952, Grandma (Sidonia Buman) worked to preserve the memories and memorabilia. In 1963 Grandma donated the trophies, from Grandpa’s hunting trip (one moose, two caribou, 2 mountain goats, and 3 mountain sheep) to the Union Pacific Railroad Historical Museum in Omaha, Nebraska, where they remained on display until 1986. When the Union Pacific Museum remodeled that year, the trophies were transferred to the Harlan Museum where they still reside.
In addition to the trophies, Grandma kept the correspondence and memorabilia from his trip. In this collection you will see letters, receipts, a list of items taken on the trip, photos, etc. All memorabilia from this trip were stored away in folders and files.
At some point, my Aunt, Alice Bontz, collected and compiled the memorabilia into a binder, making one copy for each of her 5 siblings. Without Aunt Alice’s’ original work, I am afraid this story would have gone untold, and the family memorabilia would have never have seen the light of day.
Eventually Dad’s copy of Aunt Alice’s binder ended up in my possession. Only a few years later one of my brothers found and purchased 7 copies of Alaska-Yukon Trophies Won and Lost for himself and his 6 siblings to preserve some family lore. This book was written by a hunter who had participated in a very similar trip in 1919. It was just one of those times, when the stars lined up, that I began to take a real interest in this tale. In June of 2018, Dad, Stan (my brother), and I took a trip to Council Bluffs and had supper with Aunt Alice. That was the start of my passion.
After spending time with Aunt Alice, and realizing the amount of effort she put into creating the binder, I knew the effort could not end. I started snooping through Mom & Dad’s house (previously owned by Grandma Sidonia Buman) and found the originals of all the scanned documents that Aunt Alice put into her binder. It was only then, I realized that my older brother, Bob had scanned all of Grandpa’s photos including the 500+ photos from the 1920 hunting trip. That was it; the stage was set and all I had to do is put the pieces together.
This story has had so much help coming to light. Many thanks to Grandma Buman for keeping all this material for so many years, to Aunt Alice Bontz for gathering and pulling all the information together, to Bob Buman for scanning 500+ photos from Grandpa’s hunting trip to Stan Buman for providing technical help with improving the photos, for Maddie Eshleman for assembling the information onto the website, for Ray Buman for providing the original field notes, and for Norene Buman Pavlik for contributing additional material.