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Playing Cowboy for a Day:
A Report From the Trenches of the
Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup

Original Article

Posted By: StormCnter, 10/17/2019 1:55:12 PM

The cowhands who watch over the 1,500 head of South Dakota’s Custer State Park buffalo herd say they won’t approach mature bulls until their harem females are in heat. Apparently when you weigh two-and-a-half tons, carry a head like a viking anvil and boast a top speed of 30 mph, no one rounds you up until you damn well feel like it. That kind of zero-sum, survival-of-the-fittest mentality built the state of South Dakota, and it still dominates the annual autumn roundup of the state’s largest buffalo herd, a prime tourist attraction. (Before anyone chimes in with a bit of pub trivia, I know very well



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Reply 1 - Posted by: StormCnter 10/17/2019 1:58:37 PM (No. 210056)
Once upon a time, my dad and I built up a tiny herd of five buffalo (yes, I know they're bison). My advice to anyone thinking it might be fun to own some buffalo is forget it. They never really get tame enough to handle, there is no fence that can hold them and they cannot be herded. They will simply walk until they come to an obstacle they cannot climb over or get around.
3 people like this.

Reply 2 - Posted by: Maggie2u 10/17/2019 2:26:53 PM (No. 210084)
Mr. John Scott Lewinsky has a way with words. A very entertaining read. Thanks for posting OP. BTW..if you've never had 'bison' it tastes pretty good. Just like beef but a little richer.
3 people like this.

Reply 3 - Posted by: BillW. 10/17/2019 2:27:54 PM (No. 210087)
Right you are. Just back from Yellowstone. Unlike the song "Home on the Range," the animals most Americans call buffalo are actually bison. The mistake is understandable, as bison and buffalo both belong to the Bovidae family. Bison are native to North and South America (but are now also found in Asia and Africa). Well-adapted to cold, bison use their massive heads and short, sharp horns as battering rams to drive off predators or compete for females, according to the park service. Quick and agile, a bison can run up to thirty-five miles per hour and pivot quickly—an advantage when fighting predators. The bison population is thought to be around two million, with 20,000 wild bison, and 400,000 commercial bison raised for meat. More numerous than bison, buffalo populations estimated to be around 150 million across the world, but these days, there are no buffs in the USA. KAG
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Reply 4 - Posted by: BillW. 10/17/2019 2:31:06 PM (No. 210090)
One more. Bison steak can be tough, but bison burger is terrific. Best served rare to medium-rare. KAG
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Reply 5 - Posted by: earlybird 10/17/2019 4:13:13 PM (No. 210180)
My cousin, now 86, was a rodeo cowboy - a real one - well into his 80s. Also an expert (Black trails and off-trail) skiier. One of a kind character...
2 people like this.

Reply 6 - Posted by: earlybird 10/17/2019 4:22:51 PM (No. 210185)
Hit submit too soon. Maybe a little younger, he’d have loved this.
1 person likes this.

Reply 7 - Posted by: DVC 10/17/2019 5:14:21 PM (No. 210220)
We had the opportunity to see a pair of big, serious bison bulls dispute an issue in Yellowstone a few years back. And they chose to do it on the edge of the parking lot for Lake Lodge while a good number of cars were trying to drive in and park. REALLY impressive to hear a 2500 lb bull smack his forehead into the braced and ready shoulder of his equal sized opponent. WHAM and SMACK, and a cloud of dust in the air as they both stagger. Then, pull back, paw the earth do their best "bellow".....which is a fairly ridiculously high pitched bleat-yowl in reality - and then go at it again. I expect a car to be damaged, but they avoided it, from mere feet away in several instances. Pushing one of these big bulls somewhere he doesn't want to go takes a brave tough guy on a brave, tough horse. And maybe a gal can do it, too. The brave tough horse is a critical piece of the puzzle, too. Sounds like a real spectacle to behold. I ride competently, but not a chance I would be doing something like this. I am quite impressed at real cowboys, doing real cowboying. I love a good rodeo. Calf roping just is so impressive, as is bulldogging. I'm perfectly happy to push a racing car well up over 150, which some call crazy, too, but IT will do EXACTLY what I tell it to do, where a horse and a bison both have minds of their own. Add that my skill at hustling a car is way higher than my skill at hustling a horse, and I know my limitations. I'll watch and applaud from the sidelines. Bravo cowboys! And cowgirls, too.
3 people like this.

Reply 8 - Posted by: ladydawgfan 10/17/2019 6:09:29 PM (No. 210263)
This is an excellent article and a lot of fun to read. Thanks so much for posting it!! John Lewinsky definitely has a way with words!!
0 people like this.

Reply 9 - Posted by: ramona 10/17/2019 6:28:22 PM (No. 210276)
One late spring day some years back I drove through Custer State Park in a Mazda 626 - not a very large vehicle. I was hoping to see the bison herd. Oh, they were there, plenty of mommas with new calves (they are born large!). I stopped to watch and before long my car was completely surrounded by the herd. I could hear their hoof steps on the ground and I could hear them chewing the grass. I sat still as could be and waited for the herd to move along. Whew. What a sight! Magnificent creatures. Ramona (the Pest)
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Reply 10 - Posted by: Salt5792 10/17/2019 8:31:13 PM (No. 210357)
I toured through this park on a motorcycle several years ago. There are signs along the road saying , "stay in your car. Bison are dangerous". I felt very exposed on the motorcycle.
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Reply 11 - Posted by: babsathome 10/17/2019 11:53:50 PM (No. 210449)
This moron here was driving across country with her mother and two kids almost thirty years ago. Ignorant applies here. First we stopped by Sturgis and then as we were exiting Yellowstone riding slowly next to single file bison I let my oldest daughter reach out the window and pat one . This is the same dumb Yankee mother that didn’t know what a poisonous snake was and so when we found cotton mouths in the park we would pick them up and carry them back to the water. The Lord watched out for us fools for a while
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Reply 12 - Posted by: ROLFNader 10/18/2019 8:06:00 AM (No. 210634)
I toured through Custer State Park in 1972 on a cross-country 10spd bicycle trip. Was having lunch in a boulder-lined pull off when about 50 of these monsters crashed out of the woods behind me. As I crouched behind a boulder the size of a Beetle, they ran right past me into the gravel parking lot and started rolling around on the ground about 50 feet in front of me. Turns out they were being driven crazy by flies in the woods and are known to head for the closest dirt for relief. They are also known for their poor eyesight and I don't think they even noticed me as they walked off in their cloud of dust.
2 people like this.

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