sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Friday, January 18, 2019

I'll Try to Buffalo You.

There are two bison herds in Arizona: The House Rock Wildlife Area herd near the Grand Canyon and the Raymond Ranch herd is closer to where I live. A guy who owns a ranch near me is a scientist/large animal veterinarian who works for the Arizona Wildlife and Fish Department, sent me some photos that I am sharing here with you. 

The bison are all ear tagged for the purpose of management. Arizona is trying to bring back these herds from the brink, as they are with a lot of other animals in the area like the wolves that were released into the wild in the same general zone.

Arizona does permit hunting of these bison but that hunting is controlled. They don't put the bison in a pen for you to shoot, but you can't just blaze away at will either. I approve of this sort of management. It's responsible and works.

I've heard that the House Rock/Grand Canyon bison are reproducing so fast that they are damaging the local flora and fauna as they feed and trample things (which is what bison do). 

The Raymond Ranch herd roams on the plains south of I-40, between Flagstaff and Winslow on BLM land. Here are your directions if you would like to see them for yourself. It's about 40 miles as the crow flies from the White Wolf Mine. They roam wild, and are not a curiosity in a zoo. Most people on I-40, doing 80 mph from Flagstaff to Albuquerque miss out on this sort of thing. I understand. I'm like them too at times. At other times there is the road less traveled.

19 comments:

  1. There's a wild herd here in Kansas at the Maxwell Wildlife Refuge south of Salina. Worth a visit. There are several free ranging herd located on ranches mostly in the western part of the state where you can purchase a hunt. I've heard that one permits 19th century style hunting. That would be tempting but prices are out of my reach.

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    1. There are herds in Wyoming, Montana, Colorado and elsewhere. This one is cool to me because it's a short hop in the rig.

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  2. Good hunting can = good conservation.

    But imagine all that bison in the freezer... might get samey. Still a euro mount bison skull above the roaring fire would look neat.

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    1. It's a LOT of meat. A lot of freezers full of meat. And I don't know whether or not I'd want to go through the significant bother of cleaning and skinning (though you usually hire outfitters to do that). The skull with horns would be a great addition to my den or to the great room. Decisions - decisions

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  3. Bison are "cattle" and there are few "pure" bison left. IMO, that doesn't detract from the treat of seeing them. On my medical courier route I pass the Terry Bison Ranch at the Colorado-Wyoming line on I-25. They have other species there including camels. Along Nebraska 71 north of Kimball is the Monkey Ranch that raises bison.

    Bison are extremely susceptible to brucellosis. That is one reason for cross breeding them with domestic cattle. Most bison today are cattle-o.

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    1. I think that all of these bison are cross bred, at least to some extent.

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    2. Bison aren't very smart, and their eyesight is terrible. They're also extremely unpredictable, and may look peaceful, but will charge with little to no provocation.

      But they sure are tasty!

      Been to the Terry Bison Ranch 4 or 5 times. If you're out here, it's worth it to take the train ride around the ranch and enjoy the ride and the scenery.

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    3. I will put that on my list of things to do and see. It sounds like fun.

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    4. It's on us if you ever get up this way.

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  4. Great photos. Very interesting post. Learned a lot I didn't know. I imagine the hunt is by lottery drawing or some such.

    With your somewhat large family, LL, you could divide the meat up. Or donate it to a local Food bank, soup kitchen, etc.

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    1. I'm sure that there is a way to donate the bison, keeping the choice cuts and enough to make a large supply of jerky so that I don't have to refrigerate that portion. I haven't delved that much but likely will in the future.

      Yes, the tags are drawn by lottery and they're not inexpensive if you draw a buffalo. But what an experience!

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  5. While the effort to increase the number of Bison is laudable doing so in Arizona is probably not the appropriate location. Bison are evolved to live on the plains, not the high desert of the south west. The desert ecosystem takes much much longer to recover
    From the effects of large herd type animals. This harms the habitat for local animals like deer and bighorn sheep plus they compete for water. The same of course can be said for regular cattle and to a lesser extent horses.

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    1. I think that your point is being made in the herd at the Grand Canyon. The Raymond Ranch herd is more of a plains setting than 'high desert', and as you discuss, it's land where they would compete with cattle, antelope, wild horses and bighorn sheep.

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  6. Replies
    1. They are readily available at most restaurants around here. They taste good, are lean - and are considered to be the 'healthy' choice.

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  7. There's a large bison herd (around 600 animals) outside of Salt Lake City - Antelope Island. You can drive through about half the "island" in the Great Salt Lake, hike most of it, ride horses, participate in the annual roundup. Neat place with lots of other wildlife. No fences, so mind where you walk, especially with the herds of bison. (No, I have no financial interest)
    https://stateparks.utah.gov/parks/antelope-island/
    And, of course, I have to point this out - bison vs. buffalo:
    https://elmtreeforge.blogspot.com/2016/10/another-pedantic-jackass-cartoon.html
    Wandering Neurons

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    1. I have never been on Antelope Island, though I'v heard about it. One more place to put on the list. I was contemplating a drive up along the Wasatch Range to SLC this summer. Maybe that will also be on the agenda.

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  8. Proximate to Ft. Sill is the Wichita Mountain Federa Wildlife preserve.
    It is home to a healthy hear of spectacular longhorn cattle and a herd of bison.
    In the 1970s there was the tale told of the 2nd LT who came upon an old bull bison sleeping on the warm asphalt of the roadway on a winter day.
    Said LT became impatient and honked the horn of his MG Midget at the old bull.
    The bull rose on his arthritic old knees and proceeded to demonstrate that an American Bison can perform a reasonable job as a trash compactor on British excuses for vehicles.

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    1. You never pick a fight with an old man. Whereas a young man will spar and threaten, the old man, tired and unable to "go the distance" will simply pull a revolver and kill you. The metaphor works for both your scenario and mine.

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