This case involves Wyatt Earp and his distinctive manner to hunting buffalo in order to gain financial success. The purpose of this paper is to compare his strategy and improvement of a hunting approach that was being used by the old timers. Next, we will discuss key elements of business success form an operations perspective and relate these ideas to Wyatt Earp’s approach. Finally, we will address whether or not the buffalo hunters were irresponsible in killing off the great buffalo herds as they did. We may be left to wonder if Wyatt Earp is a pioneer of what BLS (2012) describes as a General and Operations Manager, as one who plans, directs, or coordinates the operations of public or private sector organizations. Key Issues and Underlying Issues
Wyatt Earp managed his hunting escapades by using a method that went against the popular ways of veteran hunters of the West. Hunting expeditions of Wyatt Earp’s time demanded supplies, manpower, and financing to get the effort underway. The revenue was determined by the amount of meat and skins sold and had the money remaining after paying for expenses. We can clearly see from his example that the challenges Wyatt Earp faced are not much different than those a CEO of a business face today.
The “old timers” used a prevailing method to accomplish their hunt. The hunter would provide enough supplies to last several months. Besides the necessary supplies, the experienced hunter in 1871 prepared for the excursion with five wagons, pulled by four horses each, one driver, the stocktender, a camp watchman, a cook, and a team of four skinners. Buffalo hunters often acknowledged an unwritten code that forbid a hunter from skinning his own kill, so an expert buffalo hunter, and anyone considered to be above a skinner would never do the skinning because it was a lack of dignity to do so. The weapon commonly used by most hunters was the “Fifty” rifle manufactured by Sharp’s. The rifle offered a great shooting distance, however it was at a premium price for the ammunition needed and was heavy in addition to poor function without constant upkeep and care to maintain the accuracy. The hunter would use an area where with a good view of the herd, and shoot one buffalo at a time. The scent of blood eventually sent the herd into a frenzy stampeding out of the area, leaving the hunter to need to find another area suitable for another stand. The best of the hunters could average around fifty kills a day, but the average was more between thirty and forty kills. The income earned from selling the buffalo meat and skins was then divided in two parts. One half was kept by the hunter to pay any expenses and the rest was his profit, and the other part was divided among the workers who accompanied the hunter on the hunt. Discussion
Operations effectiveness as described by authors Jacobs and Chase (2011) relates to the core business processes needed to run the business (p. 23). Wyatt Earp saw weaknesses in the methods of the “old timers” hunt, and decided to attempt several changes in his way of hunting. For Wyatt Earp, the area of revenue was the first aspect that required attention for improvement. He reduced overhead by purchasing and using one wagon, four horses to pull the wagon, and one for him to ride. He only brought along one experienced skinner who did the driving, cooking, and skinning and earned half of the profits as a result. This plan included Wyatt assisting in skinning the buffalo which was not a practice typically accepted by hunters of the day. The next aspect of Wyatt’s business was to consider his weapon of choice. The customary rifle being used by hunters was found to be heavy and required special care to avoid melting the metal. Wyatt decided on a shotgun which was much more efficient, lighter and less expensive. Although it involved Wyatt needing to get closer to the heard than other hunters using rifles yet the trade-off was rapid fire without...