From John Bidwell’s journal for July 10, 1841:
“Saturday, 10th. Travelled about 14 miles and stopped to kill and dry meat. Buffalo began to grow scarce.”
By this time on their journey the company had almost exhausted its supplies of flour and other foodstuffs. Bidwell had laid in extra supplies, because he hated the idea of living on nothing but meat, but by now even he must have been running low. He doesn’t say how much he had left. The company knew they still had a long way to go, although they really didn’t have a good idea of how far. They began to kill buffalo and dry the meat, with the hope that the jerky would last them until California.
However they had left their plans to “make meat” until too late. Crossing the plains they had seen vast herds of buffalo, but now as they traveled up the Sweetwater River toward the Continental Divide, they saw fewer and fewer. They killed twenty buffalo on the 8th and ten on the 9th. On the 10th they decided to stay in place and spend a day or two hunting and drying meat.
They killed 6 or 7 the 10th, and 4 or 5 on the 11th. John Gray and William Romaine came back from a scouting expedition to the Green River on the 13th and reported that they found no game ahead. Meat on the hoof was running out just at the time they realized how much they would need it.