Winter River Crossing


Dan & I returned home just before midnight this last Thursday from a Patagonia book tour in California. We were greeted with a cold, still night and a black sky filled with stars. We awoke the next morning to a snow-covered prairie, the first snowfall of the year.

This was also the day that we would move the buffalo onto the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands, their winter grazing grounds consisting of 24,000 acres of grasslands. Dan & Colton had organized a plan on the when and the how we would do this. We were discussing the buffalo gathering as we gazed out the window at the new winter scenery. A small group of buffalo had started to gather on the bottom ground with more trickling in from every direction. Then, as if on cue, they lined out in a single file for the gate that would take them across the river. “Would you look at that”, Dan said. “They must know”, Jilian replied.

A new plan was quickly put into place and our crew of five bundled up and headed out the door.

Buffalo tracks through snowy field

We followed the single file path to the gate where the buffalo and the birds that would travel with them, waited patiently.

Buffalo herd against winter landscape

Dan and I went through first, closing the gate behind us, so we could cross the river and call them over. Once we were in position, Jilian & Colton, along with little Lincoln, opened the gate and led them to the river.

Buffalo herd along wintry river bank

They had made this crossing many times and ran along the river enthusiastically, looking for their favorite narrow and not to deep place to cross.

Buffalo herd crossing river
Buffalo herd crossing river

As always the group was led by an older cow and was the first to take the plunge into the icy cold water.

Buffalo herd on snowy prairie

As they crossed they gathered again, as if waiting for all to get across safely.

Buffalo herd crossing winter river

The last bunch trickled across slowly, with a single older cow bringing up the rear.

Lone buffalo crossing river
Buffalo on snow

Once all had crossed they took off climbing the river breaks and moved out onto their winter pasture.

It was a wonderful welcome home for all.


  • Posted on by Pam Matthews

    It is wonderful to see this and to know that our nations past is being brought back! I am looking forward to getting a healthier food product to eat and also to see hat you guys along with others are bringing this food source back to America!

  • Posted on by Becky Westbrook

    Beautiful photo’s and an amazing, inspirational way to live on the land. My husband and I run a sheep and cattle farm on Kangaroo Island off the south coast of Australia and it is incredible to see these pictures of what you guys are up to on the other side of the world. Your son is lucky to have such inspiring people and animals to grow and learn from. We have three young children of our own and maybe one day we will come and visit your part of the world. Keep up the good work!

  • Posted on by hélène

    Je viens de terminer le livre c’est super ce que vous faîtes ne changez rien grâce à vous j’ai appris sur ces grandes prairies et je suis bien loin du mythe qu’elle représentait pour moi, je ne les savais pas si malade mais elles revivent bravo le bison Bill parcourt il toujours la prairie ? c’était un avis et une demande d’une petite française

  • Posted on by Laurie Hamilton

    Loved the pictures and narration! Wonderful to see unspoiled prairie. The ranch land around my small acreage was in danger of being sold off after the owner died. Thankfully, another rancher who has leased the property for more than 50 years bought it and it remains virgin ground. Yes, they run cattle but their rotational schedule keeps this land from being overgrazed. I can’t have buffalo to watch over my fence but I can’t have everything. At least I’m not going to have to look at some sub-division complete with all the “good stuff” that invariably comes with them! Keep up your wonderful work so that the many who have never seen a REAL prairie might visit you.

  • Posted on by Walter Heberlein

    It saddens me to see these magnificent pictures knowing the animals exist to be slaughtered. But, then, I am one of those who eat them and I get past that knowing that’s the way of this planet and I appreciate that their days are made happy because of the way y’all treat them.
    Keep up your excellent work and creative marketing. I certainly enjoy your product!

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