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Bison Hunting
 

The Hunt


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.

Excitement? 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 prairie.

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!

 

   

The Bison Ranch - Bison Hunting
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