Heard: Big Fifty by Johnny D. Boggs, 2003, downloaded the Blackstone audio version from Overdrive. Read by Lloyd James.
It is very unfortunate that Overdrive only has one Johnny D. Boggs audiobook available. I listened to another Boggs novel, West Texas Kill, when using a trial version from another vendor. Maybe it was OneClick Digital from Recorded Books.
Coady McIlrain lives outside Dodge City, KS in 1872. His family came from the South to farm and and have been working the land a couple years. Coady is 12-years-old, loves dime novel stories about Buffalo Bill, and dreams of being a buffalo hunter on the plains. Coady yearns for a Sharps rifle in .50 caliber and uses an old tobacco stick as a stand-in.
One afternoon Coady's father invites him along for a trip to Dodge. The run into an ambush by a raiding party of Comanche. Coady's father is arrowed and tells Coady to run. Coady runs, looks over his shoulder, sees his father being scalped. Coady runs back and whacks the attacking Comanche
in the face with the tobacco stick. Coady is captured. Coady is transported south to Texas. Coady is staying with Quanah Parker's group.
Coady is starved a little. Coady has made a lifelong enemy by whacking the Comanche and busting his nose. Coady is beaten by the old woman who enslaves him. Coady feels lovey-dovey to another captive, a girl his age named CannotRecall. CannotRecall helps Coady escape. COady loses his horse and continues across the Texas Staked Plains on foot.
Meanwhile, former U.S. Army sharpshooter and itinerant typesetter Dylan Griffith chanes on work as a buffalo hunter. Griffith heads south with his new partner and learns to say he is a buff' runner. HE shoots about 30 cows a day. The skinners will curse his name if he shoots more than they can process in a day. Coady hears a noise at night and pulls his Colt on a sneaky person. Coady has been rescued.
Dylan takes a liking to Coady. Most of the hunting group take a liking to Coady. Dylan misses his own dead son - you learn more back story later on - and rationalizes keeping Coady around a little longer rather than send him back to KS.
Dylan and Coady and the other runners and skinners travel the plains. They find sluaghtered buffalo and slaughtered buffalo runners. Coady spent a half-year with the Comanche and points out how the arrows and ambush tactics are not true Comanche style and method. Dylan and Coady head to Adobe Walls along with some other buffalo hunters, including Bat Masterson.
Dylan and Coady survive the gunfight and witness the famous mile long shot. Dylan learsn someone if looking for Coady. He wonders if it is a bounty hunter looking for the reward placed by Coady's mother. More excitement. More danger. The conflict keeps rolling along with a twist and turn.
1. Boggs enjoys history and he gives you plenty. Fun reading.
2. Well, fun listening anyway.