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‘Butcher’s Crossing’ 2023 Plot
Naive pastor’s son, Will, has dropped out of Harvard and travels to Butcher’s Crossing, a tiny frontier town in Kansas built on the buffalo hide trade. He wishes to see as much of the country as he can and experience the ‘Wild West’. Sold on the romanticism of going on a buffalo hunt, Will seeks out McDonald, a former acquaintance of his father’s, who currently runs the waning buffalo trade for the town. When McDonald refuses to oblige the young man, Will falls in with Miller, an intense and experienced buffalo hunter who spins him a tale of a remote Colorado pass where one of the few remaining massive herds can be found. Though warned about Miller and the folly of this enterprise, Will puts up all of his money to fund the expedition.
With Will’s money, they purchase supplies and hire Hoge, a drunk, one armed, bible-thumper, to be wagon driver and camp cook, and Schneider, a crude, but pragmatic, ‘skinner’ who insists on being paid a salary due to his doubts about Miller’s stories.
The journey to the pass is difficult for Will, who is thrilled and enchanted with the scenery, but unused to rigorous hardships. The team encounters many difficulties which make them doubt the veracity of Miller’s claim and ability to lead them, and Will’s sanity begins to falter, but eventually they reach the mountain pass to discover an untouched herd with thousands upon thousands of buffalo. Will is ecstatic and awed, believing the beautiful nature surrounding them is “God”, elated at being able to experience something so beautiful.
Miller begins his hunt. What starts as a thrilling adventure soon becomes an obsessive, methodical onslaught of endless slaughter. Miller revels in dropping hundreds of buffalo a day, leaving Will and Schneider scrambling to skin the carcasses, with Miller refusing to slow down his kills. The ceaseless rounds of blood and butchery wear on Will and his mental and physical health, as he begins to feel their presence is corrupting the sacred space of the pass. He becomes numb to the gore as time passes and the valley becomes filled with skinned corpses.
After three weeks of constant butchery, Schneider points out that they have overstayed their intended time and already have more hides than they can carry. He proposes they stop and return before the weather turns and they become trapped. Miller refuses. He is obsessed and won’t stop until every buffalo in the herd is dead. Will sides with Miller and the team stays to continue the slaughter despite Schneider’s protests at the pointless waste of killing more than they can carry.
Predictably, the team becomes trapped by a blizzard. They are now forced to live out the winter in the mountains. They are low on food, because they have killed all but a handful of the buffalo and left the previous carcasses to rot. Schneider is frustrated at becoming trapped because they wouldn’t listen, and lashes out at Hoge, who has descended into paranoid religious mutterings. In revenge, Hoge poisons Schneider’s food. Will’s sanity slips further, and Miller obsesses over the triumph of returning to town with the largest haul ever seen once he’s killed every single buffalo. The team settles in to endure a long, boring slog of survival as they wait the winter out.
When spring comes, Hoge is killed after the poisoning is discovered, and the team is antsy to return. Unable to haul all of the 4,600 hides they have collected, they pile 1,600 in their wagon, and leave the remaining 3,000 with the intent to return for them. An exultant Miller is impatient to return to the town, triumphant with his haul, but their damaged wagon falls off a cliff, taking Scheider and the 1,600 hides with it, as Miller and Will numbly stare on.
Will and Miller rush to town, hoping to get another wagon in order to return for the 3,000 remaining hides. But Butcher’s Crossing is much changed. Largely abandoned and derelict, the pair are horrified to learn that the bottom has fallen out of the buffalo hide market while they were trapped for the winter. Had they returned the previous fall, as intended, instead of been greedy and stayed until every buffalo was killed, they could have sold their hides and become immensely wealthy. Now, with no buyers, the hides are completely worthless, and the town collapsed once its main source of commerce dried up.
Robbed of his victory, Miller sets the old buffalo exchange building on fire.
A much-changed Will says he has “seen what [he] needed to see” on the buffalo hunt when asked if the experience was worth it, and rides into the wilderness, alone.
Source by Wikipedia