Bison Hunting

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OldMaineWoodsman

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Has anyone here hunted Bison? In an earlier post I mentioned getting shutout for Moose permit drawings in both Maine and New Hampshire. It's been a number of years now and I know you can't get drawn if you don't apply but it is getting frustrating.

My dream hunt experience was always Big Horn Sheep. At 61, I'm not sure I could do it now, and the cost is enough to give you heart failure. With that said, I was considering a Bison hunt for maybe 2022. What I don't want is to shoot one in an enclosed, ranch environment. I don't want to go through the lottery hassle either, as I'm already doing that. A couple of the outfitters that I have communicated with tell me that there are no "free range Bison" except in protected areas.

Was wondering what experiences some of you may have had. Thanks in advance for any input/guidance.
 

swamperkk

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yellowstone has plenty of them, i heard of people taking out the old ones
 

Spikebuck

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I have also heard of hunts around Yellowstone where the bison go out of the park onto private lands. Years ago, Roger Raglin took a big bull with a traditional caplock muzzleloader on film in that area. If I recall, he used a 50 caliber with a Buffalo Bullet. Perfect shot. The bull stood there as he was reloading, but it started to stumble and fell over before he was ready for a second shot.

There are also opportunities in Custer State Park in the Black Hills. One can argue if these are "free ranging" or not, but they aren't really ranch bison either. Kind of a "hybrid" in that they are exposed to lots of people during their lives, but are also pretty much "free range" throughout a large piece of real estate.

Lastly, and probably a bit closer to "ranch" than you may want, the Lakota sell a few bison hunts on the Lower Brule reservation each year. In the hunting video Primal Dreams II, Mark Mitten takes a nice bull with a longbow, wooden arrow, and flint head while stalking on the reservation.

Aren't there also some opportunities way up in Northern Canada for truly wild Bison?
 

longcruise

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The only free range bison hunt that I know of is in the Henry mountains od Utah.

Then there are some tags for Yellowstone bison that migrate into Montana during the winter.

Commercial bison hunts range anywhere from a one acre pen to hundreds or even thousands of acre ranches. Even on the big properties the bison are not necessarily difficult to hunt or to locate. They will usually be fairly easy to approach.

Most of the people I know who have done a Commercial hunt are not expecting a difficult hunt. Mostly they have paid for the meat and are going about killing it in a unique way.

 

Brokennock

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One of our forum members here got one with a .62 caliber flintlock, smoothbore I believe, a couple years ago. You should be able to find his topic here somewhere. I lose track of his screen name and I don't think his real name will come up in a search.
 

Brokennock

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I can't find the full topic. Unfortunately I believe the gentleman changed screen names between the time the original topic was posted and when he posted this response in another topic,
View attachment 14543

.62 smoothbore 80grs of 2FF behind a patched roundball. Complete penetration through ribs and lungs. Cow was down in 50yd's

View attachment 14544
Maybe @Lobo can and will chime in?
 

FiremanBrad

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There are free range hunts, with herds recognized by both the Boone and Crockett and Pope and Young Clubs. But, those hunts are going to be tough to draw a tag for.
Ranch “hunts” can be had, all it takes is money!
My father in law and I shot a pair of 2 yr old bulls on the Pine Ridge Res. Back in 2007.
 

Notchy Bob

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I read a lot of period literature from the early to mid 19th century. Everybody who went west wanted to kill a buffalo. "Still hunting" or "approaching," as they called it, was a technique probably used more than "running" the buffalo, although running is the technique that really captures our imaginations. People who knew what they were doing were frequently able to get quite close. Later, after the tracks were laid, people could shoot them from the train windows. The point being that buffalo were not necessarily that hard to find or approach, even in the wild. They were said to have gotten wilder, leaner, and faster later on in the century, as a direct response to hunting pressure.

We hear of people shooting bison "in pastures" nowadays, but a "pasture" in Kansas might be 6,000 acres. I went to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon three years ago, and saw people butchering freshly killed Kaibab bison right outside the park boundary as we were driving out one morning. They apparently shot the animals from the roadside, likely resting their rifles on the vehicle hoods. The carcasses were probably within 100 yards of the road, so the kills were probably pretty efficient. If the animals ran after being shot, they didn't go far.

We have our own ideas now about what is "sporting," and how to define "fair chase." On another forum, a few years ago, I recall a member posted a story of his bison hunt with a flintlock smoothbore. The fellow wanted to do everything PC, even using local grass as wadding in his firelock. He got his buffalo, but I think it took him about eight hours of pursuit and maybe six shots (all hits) before the animal finally collapsed. Is that sporting? Fair chase?

Some people think shooting bears over bait is not sporting. However, it would seem to me that the priority should be a clean, quick, and humane kill. Whether it is shooting a bear over bait, or a bison that is semi-habituated to people, the ability to place your shot and drop the animal quickly should be considered. That may be more important than a good hunting story. The meat is likely better if the animal hasn't been run all over creation, too.

I think there are a lot of places all over the west that offer bison hunts on private land. I would not rule those out.

Good luck to you!

Notchy Bob
 
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fleener

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As others stated there are bison hunts that are for free ranging animals. AK has a couple of herds as well, and as others stated they are on a lottery system.

A buddy and I went to SD in Feb. on a bison hunt. It was a paid hunt on a large ranch.

It was definitely not like shooting a cow in the pasture. But it was also not like a 10 day hunt in the wilderness. These animals were very spooky. When we started our stalk through a stand of trees to get close enough to the two bulls that we were going to shoot there were 4 bison that could see us about 800 yards away. They took off like the devil was after them.

It was 18 below zero that morning. Luckily only a 7 mph wind and sunny.

The bulls we took were 10-12 years old. The outfitter recommended that all of the meat be turned into burger except the loins. I had the butcher save some roast. The burger has 10% beef fat added to it and it is simply wonderful. The lions are very good and tender. The roast when cooked in a pressure cooker fall apart and taste good, however the meat is stringy and tough.

I could see shooting a young bull or cow in the future just for the meat.

I did not use a ML, but I did use a traditional buffalo rifle shooting BP and pushing a 530 grain bullet that I cast.

As you most likely already know, shooting an animal like this is like ordering one off a menu. Price is based on what you want. My buddy and I both wanted what this outfitter called supper trophy bulls. Biggest of the big. Figured that we will most likely only do this once in our life, so we went big.

The picture of the bull with me and my buddy we are not sitting back away from the animal to make it look big. We are leaning into it to keep it from tipping over.

This took place in NE South Dakota. The good thing from Iowa it was only a 7 hour drive. The butcher got both animals processed in less then 24 hours. With the meat, heads and hides the back of the 3/4 ton pickup was full.

Getting a full head mount. Already have the skull hanging in the cabin. The back half of the hide is also getting tanned.

Fleener

bison skull.jpg
buffalo .jpg
buffalo loader.jpg
 

Idaho Ron

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A friend of mine here in South Idaho ran cows on the desert. There was a draw that was about 2 miles long. It was choaked with Russian Olive trees, wild roses, and sage. The sage was 8 to 10 foot tall. He had a cow that lived in that draw fir several years. She raised calves and the calves were always rounded up but the cow always got away.
The BLM told him get her off the range of face penalty. He had several cowboys ready, and I was stationed at the top of a knob overlooking the draw.
If the cowboys couldn't get her out of the brush I could shoot her if she was in the clear.
I was using my Hot Rod Hawken. I had 408 grain paper patched 11mm RCBS bullets.
As the dogs started to bark and fight the cow I got ready. The cowboys moved in. There was a lot of yelling, barking, and the horses were not happy at all.
After a couple hours. I thought I would get my chance. The owner on the radio said take her if she's in the clear. Tge next thing I see a cowboy being chased out of the brush. Another one roped the cow. She went after the horse and the rider took off. He hit the end of the rope and the cow choaked out. Another rope was pit on her horns and she was eventually drug out of the draw.
While she was technically a cow in a pasture it had my heart racing.
 

Old Hawkeye

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Believe it or not Kodiak Island has free ranging Bison. They got there when some guy tried to start a Buffalo Ranch may years ago. It failed, but the buffalo are still roaming around. A buddy of mine went there & shot a nice bull a few years ago. They had to fight off some very big bears after he shot it, so it's not for the faint of heart.
 

awc

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There was a guy that took one on Mountain Men tv show last week . 50 cal Cap lock, was using round balls.
 

Tanglefoot

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Some years ago, a rancher in the Texas Hill Country who raised some Longhorns met a California rancher who raised some Bisons and they agreed to swap bull calves. They did so. When the buffalo calf got his growth, he discovered an interest in heifers and went looking for some, completely disregarding the barbed wire fencing between himself and the young cows. He did several thousand dollars worth of damage and the rancher decided he needed to get rid of the buffalo. That rancher happened to be a friend of ol' Mole Eye Swenson who published a periodical named The Trade Blanket back then. Mole Eye called me and asked if I wanted to go on a buffalo hunt. Turned out the young bull was wandering out in the brush in the back part of the ranch. Mole Eye and I went back there on foot, in our buckskins and calico -- with our rifles. Mine was a .50 caliber GRRW Indian Trade Rifle named Lucy. There were three members of a local ML club there also but they were too far from the action to do anything - except that one of them fired one shot and burned the trotting bull across his butt, which caused him to accelerate considerable. He ran across an open area in front of me maybe 20 yards away and running from my left to my right, angled away. I fired a .495 round ball. It took him in the crease behind his right shoulder. He took two or three more strides and went down on his nose. Mole Eye, who was behind a clump of Prickly Pear to my right, hollered over that the bull was still breathing and struggling and did I want him to put him out of his misery? I did, and he did, with another round ball behind the ear. We dressed him out ourselves, and found that my shot had traveled through the chest cavity, both lungs, and clipped a major artery then exited between his neck and left shoulder, leaving an exit wound about the size of a quarter.
We froze the backstraps and I made a big pot of Buffalo Chili at the next TAB rendezvous, and Mole Eye made a huge Dutch oven full of biscuits and another of peach cobbler and we fed all who wanted some until it was gone.
 

Crow-Feather

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Has anyone here hunted Bison? In an earlier post I mentioned getting shutout for Moose permit drawings in both Maine and New Hampshire. It's been a number of years now and I know you can't get drawn if you don't apply but it is getting frustrating.

My dream hunt experience was always Big Horn Sheep. At 61, I'm not sure I could do it now, and the cost is enough to give you heart failure. With that said, I was considering a Bison hunt for maybe 2022. What I don't want is to shoot one in an enclosed, ranch environment. I don't want to go through the lottery hassle either, as I'm already doing that. A couple of the outfitters that I have communicated with tell me that there are no "free range Bison" except in protected areas.

Was wondering what experiences some of you may have had. Thanks in advance for any input/guidance.
Shot mine with a Sharps 45-70 paper patched 500 grain black powder round. They drop pretty easy if you hit them well. My wife used a Krag on hers. Montana used to sell cows for 800, now they are 2,000 since people discovered the benefits of lean meat. Sigh, they were shining times. Gone the way of the beaver.
 
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