These hunts vary over private acres of prime, native
bison habitat in Southern Colorado, Utah and New Mexico. This area is covered with rabbit and sagebrush with numerous
arroyos and large, rocky hills. Blue gramma grass, rabbit and sagebrush
carpet the valley floors. The Sangre de Cristo Mountain range rises to
the east, while the 14,345-ft. peak named Mt. Blanca stands majestically
to the north. The scenery is absolutely breath taking! Sightings of mule
deer, antelope and wild horses are commonplace, yet these encounters never
cease to thrill me.
We attempt to locate your trophy bull from four-wheel drive
vehicles or horseback. Periodic glassing is performed. Once sighted, we
stalk on foot. We try to determine which direction he is headed and then
get in front of him to establish an ambush. But with acres to roam
on, we are anything but in control.
Once you see your bull and the huge territory he has
available, you’ll see that his chances at escaping are pretty good.
Without naming names, numerous experienced hunters have become so excited
that they have a difficult time reloading. One unidentified hunter emptied
his .300 Win Mag and finally got two more shells loaded in his magazine.
With the bull only 100 yards away, both rounds ricocheted off the dry
prairie half way between him and the wounded bull. We quickly took him
another rifle, thinking that the scope was off. Later, when asked what
had happened to his rifle, his reply was “Nothing, I was shaking so bad
that that was the best I could do.” This was a savvy, experienced hunter
saying this! I can’t explain it, but I believe all the excitement is generated
from seeing such a massive bull roaming about free on the vast, expansive
The old buffalo hunters of the 1870’s killed most of their
buffalo by “getting a stand”. In this technique, they would approach the
herd to within about 200-300 yards. They would then select the leader
(usually the oldest cow) and shoot her in the lungs. If aimed true, she
would make a startled movement, a sort of leap forward, looking around
with blood gushing from her nostrils. Hearing the report, the animals
near her would look to her with an idea she would lead the way. Seeing
her standing still, they would resume grazing. The wounded cow would wobble
weakly, stagger forward and fall. Should another cow take the leadership
and begin to move off, she became the next victim. Once the herd smelled
the blood, they would become excited and begin milling around the wounded.
New leaders who tried to take off were quickly downed. In 1872, George
W. Reighard killed 79 buffaloes from one spot (or stand) with 91 shots
in 1˝ hours. He figured that they all lay within a two-acre area. This
wild pursuit of the wounded makes for a mess! The one time we tried “herd
hunting”, the bull was wounded and took off, with the rest of the herd
in hot pursuit. I can not describe the pandemonium and panic that followed
and the ugliness of this sad event. It is a sickening sight, observed
by unwilling witnesses. Other bison ranches that do herd shoot are forced
to immediately surround the downed animal with vehicles to keep it from
being gored by the herd. A dangerous situation for all concerned.
Because of our bad experience with “herd hunting”, we have
gone to a release program. I believe this is a much more sporting hunt
than shooting an animal in the herd. Locating the herd is not difficult,
and the shot that follows is not either because you can drive right up
to them. With the release program, a lone bull searching for the herd
can cover a great deal of territory in a short period. He is also wary
of any movement or activity since he does not have the protection of the
herd. There is no driving up to these bulls and we have never shot from
the vehicle. Our guides do not know the where or when of your bull’s release,
so everyone is truly hunting and there are a lot of places to hide . All of these factors make for an exciting hunt!