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.

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

Dan & 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.

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.

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

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

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

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 Colton Jones

    Always a memorable event! Lincoln’s first time for winter pasture release was a text book scene depicted beautifully with Jill’s photos.

  • Posted on by AJ Jackson

    Awesome! That is an amazing sight to see. Wishing the Bison a Happy Winter!

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