Fake and stunt buffaloes used to avoid injury to man and beast

November 23, 1990|By Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES -- How do you film buffaloes being shot and killed during a stampede without injuring a single beast? How do you get a buffalo to charge an actor without endangering either?

By using, respectively, fake and stunt buffaloes, says Jim Wilson, Kevin Costner's co-producer on "Dances With Wolves."

To re-create the buffalo hunt so central to the survival of the Plains Indians, Wilson used five animated buffaloes -- life-size buffalo mannequins mounted on dollies and yanked to the ground while traveling at 30 mph amid a pack of live buffalo.

"We also had two trained buffalo," he added. "Mammoth was formerly Neil Young's buffalo, and Cody was a buffalo that would come to Oreo cookies."

Cody's fondness for Oreos made him a natural for the scene where a buffalo charges a stranded Indian youth. Although it looks like he's headed straight for the kid, the beast was in fact charging a pile of cookies strategically heaped behind the actor.

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