Bison – part one

A couple of years ago, my daughter and I went on a road trip to the Black Hills in South Dakota.  My main goal and objective was to see the herd of free ranging buffalo.  I guess the proper term is Bison (Latin) but the name Buffalo (Europeans title) is more commonly used.  According to all the info I read published by Custer State Park either term appears to be acceptable.

Custer State Park is home to almost 1500 head of Buffalo.  Each September the Park has a Buffalo Roundup, available for visitors to view.  Park staff and volunteers will have up to 60 horseback riders and 20 trucks aiding in the round-up.  This yearly round-up is important in the control and health of the herd.  Round-up; note to self for a future visit.

I was not disappointed in our quest to find a herd.  It did take some exploration though.  We found a herd while driving Wildlife Loop Road.  However, our first wildlife encounter were Burros.  There is a herd of Burros that wander the park, and although considered wild, they are accustomed to people.  Caution and common sense are prudent when approaching these animals.

daughter finds this little guy “way too cute”

The Wildlife Loop Road is an eighteen mile paved scenic drive with numerous gravel roads off shooting in different directions.   We did venture down a couple of these gravel roads in search of buffalo.  The first herd we encountered were pretty far off in the distance.  So, back to the paved road and thirty minutes later, we met a herd on the side of the road…..awesome.We spend a good half hour observing these large animals.  My daughter gets concerned as this calf starts to approach me.  Where there’s a baby, there’s a mama.  A quick photo-op and I return to the vehicle.  These guys are huge.  The bulls can weigh as much as a ton while the cows come in at 900-1200 pounds.  New born calves are about 50 pounds…ouch!

Tomorrow we’ll be in search of Pronghorns…..

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