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Home For The Holidays

A few weeks ago, we moved the buffalo into the pasture that borders the Cheyenne River in preparation for moving them onto their winter pasture on the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands. Each time we do this, I am reminded of the first epic event that took place 14 years ago. 

In order to allow our buffalo to cross the Cheyenne River to graze on the national grasslands (the buffalo’s former home for thousands of years), we first had to petition the Forest Service to include the American Bison as an allowed grazing species. Until then, they were not on the list.

We then had a grand celebration in honor of the buffalo returning to the home they hadn't been on for over 150 years. Friends, customers and Native American neighbors dressed in regalia showed up for the event. There were horses with riders, drums and songs and a whole lot of emotion. In short, it was awesome!

Over time, the buffalo have intuitively come to know when it's time to cross the river and moving them has become relatively easy. And over time, the crowd has thinned.

This year our crew consisted of daughter Jilian and husband Colton with new baby Barret (his first buffalo moving experience) in the lead truck, loaded with an alfalfa/mineral cake to encourage the bison to follow. In charge of the backend of the herd in a side-by-side ATV, was Dan and now savvy buffalo mover, 3-year-old grandson Lincoln.

The buffalo were about a mile from the river as the crow flies, with pockets of them tucked into the higher hillside. We were loosing light and I was hoping to capture a short video when we got to the river.

Jilian and Colton pounded the pick-up in a drum like fashion and called “come buffers, come buffers” as they released the alfalfa cake, and Dan and Lincoln zigzagged the hillside picking up the stragglers.

A group of cake lovers followed the truck closely, with the mass of the herd being brought up by Dan and Lincoln.

I tried to stay ahead, wanting to secure a position by the river. Before my last gate, a beautiful buck rose up from the grass that kept him hidden and with one graceful leap jumped the fence. Wow! Exhilarated, I headed for the river and hoped I wouldn’t get stuck. The clouds were starting to blush as the light continued to slip, but it was beautiful. And even without all the fanfare it was awesome!

Here’s a short video that shows a bit more of the process. Although it’s not so good, I hope you enjoy it. Cheers! jill

 

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46 comments

  • ALL I CAN SAY IS WOW! AND GOD BLESS – THANKS FOR THIS AND ALL YOU DO FOR THE BUFFALO, THE PLANET AND FOR US.

    Joan Bauer
  • Absolutely beautiful. Being here in the furthermost eastern state, I am so drawn to the west and will hopefully one day travel to places where I can photograph joys like this and the people who work so hard to make things like this happen!! Thank you for sharing.

    Deborah
  • What a wonderful story! and the video is great! I can just feel the earth move from the pounding of their hooves. Wish I could be there to celebrate their homecoming. Keep up the good work and know that there are many that can only experience great things like this through your dedication.

    Sandy Vitt
  • what a treat to see the herd on the move over the land of their forebearers. You folks are saints to the natural world.

    Rob Thompson
  • It was Amazing to watch, just short of being there in person. I would Love to experience or participate in something like this.

    Kurt M. Whitlow
  • Thanks for sharing the experience. I know that spot on the river. I think Colton came to my aide with a tractor! Miss those adventures.

    Terri
  • THANKS YOU FOR ALL YOU DO FOR THE BUFFALO AND FOR US – MAKES ME FEEL PROUD TO BE, IN MY OWN SMALL WAY, A PART OF IT.

    Joan Bauer
  • I once saw hundreds of thousands of wildebeest entering the Masai Mara from Tanzania. As I looked at the black dots moving across miles of grassy plains, the hair spontaneously stood on my neck and I thought “My God, this is what America used to look like” and tears of thrill, sadness and joy welled I wanted to say it aloud for my wife to hear but my voice wouldn’t work and I was embarrassed that I was near losing my composure over something I couldn’t explain. Thanks for bringing even a little of that back.

    Keith S.
  • Victor Birdsong: Apologies for my delay. There are all kinds of range cake. We use alfalfa and kelp range cake. Both are organic. We do not feed either on a regular basis. We only use as a tool in moving the buffalo. The American Grass-fed and Organic standards allow for alfalfa/kelp/mineral cake and amount fed must be less than .5% of their body weight. If a buffalo’s weight was 1,000 pounds that would be 5 lbs. per each buffalo per day. For us it is more like 5 pounds per year.

    jill / Wild Idea Buffalo Co.
  • The children look so beautiful, happy and healthy. I wish I had their fantastic experience. The video is marvelous. Thanks

    Fran
  • You’ve done a great job DH.It beats hunting peasant and rabbit around Findlay.God bless

    Brad Martin
  • Thank you for pursuing your interest in filming and photography. It leaves me teary-eyed to see the timelessness of what your passion inspires you to record.

    Vernon Cross
  • This was a delight to watch, and the next best thing to being there with you all as you led the buffalo across the river. It must have been scary the first time that you did this, not knowing if they would come back to you or not. What a wonderful adventure you have all had raising these buffalo and keeping the prairie and the buffalo alive and well. Thanks for all you do, and I will keep ordering buffalo from you as I have been eating your buffalo exclusively for probably 8 years by now. It is always a joy to hear from you, and especially to see the pictures and the video of you guys and the buffalo too.

    I put all of you in God’s loving hands.
    May the blessings be.
    Love, Don

    Don Meyer
  • Thank you for posting your wonderful story and video. I love seeing the buffs crossing the river and running up the hillside. I love seeing buffs anywhere! I’m lucky to have a herd just a couple hours from me, even though I’m in the Chicago area. I get my bison fix every year :)

    Lisa Musgrave
  • What a absolutely beautiful sight. Hope to be able to catch a glimpse and a few pics while I’m up there at Christmas. Would love to know where I might be able to catch up and photo some of the herd while up from Arkansas. Thanks for the great stories and videos. Love them.

    Don

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