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"Buffalo" (bison) hunting out West.

LinefinderLinefinder ModeratorPosts: 7,199 Senior Member
GunNuts' post about buff hunting here out west got me to thinking....I've done it twice so I do know a little about it, and thought I'd share what I know prior to any of you dumping big $$ coming out here to do this.

#1 - It 'aint hunting.  Imagine shooting your grandfathers milk cow while in the company of strangers paying to do the same. And most of them are really bad shots and select (or don't) bullets of improper construction for the task at hand. I witnessed one young lady pester one to death with ~15 shots from a .223Rem.  It was like watching something die from "A Death of a Thousand Cuts" that didn't deserve it.  I witnessed enough poor choices/shooting that day that the memory is quite depressing. You won't get "charged" by a bison.

#2 - It 'aint cheap meat. If your plan is menu-driven, the best meat is from a 600 lb cow. That cow is going to cost you at least $1K just to shoot it. It will get gutted by the guide, but the rest is up to you. Local processing fees for a "skin on" buffalo is around $400. You're now in for ~$1400.

#3 - The "yield" on a buffalo 'aint great. By the time the head, hide, large bones and other inedibles
have left the equation, the final edible yield is about 25%, or about 125 lbs from a 600 lb animal, and most of it won't be steaks and roasts. (Think a lot of burger). You are now at over $11 per lb. If you actually have to transport it over a long distance....I don't even want to think about the costs involved.

#4 - You can tire of it really quick. Bison is pretty interesting the first couple times you have it, enough to possibly make you want to bag one yourself. But trust me, after eating 2 in 2 years.....beef is where it's at.

Mike


"Walking away seems to be a lost art form."
N454casull
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Replies

  • Johnny rebJohnny reb Member Posts: 621 Senior Member
    You are correct that alot of Bison “hunt” are actually Bison shoots. They are all not like you described. I know alot of people that do very little research when looking to do a Bison hunt. They are then suprised when the “hunt” is not what they expected. Research is key when booking any hunt. Not saying this applies to your experience. Did you know what kind of “ hunt” you were doing before hand?
  • LinefinderLinefinder Moderator Posts: 7,199 Senior Member
    Alaska, Arizona, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming are the only states that have a state sanctioned wild bison season, with an actual "draw", defined season, low draw rates, and very low success rates. Anything else, at this time, is pretty much as I described above. 

    My experience was a decade ago, in Colorado, but I doubt much has changed. The current economics are likely much worse.

    I expected to shoot a bison. I got what I paid for....

    Mike
    "Walking away seems to be a lost art form."
    N454casull
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 24,349 Senior Member
    I’d rather shoot a beef cow. 
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • JerryBobCoJerryBobCo Senior Member Posts: 8,062 Senior Member
    Gee, Mike.  It's like you and I have hunted bison together.  I couldn't have said it better myself. :)
    Jerry

    Gun control laws make about as much sense as taking ex-lax to cure a cough.
  • PFDPFD Senior Member Posts: 1,360 Senior Member
    edited November 2020 #6
    Pretty interesting take.
    Probably not my cup of tea but thanks for laying it out.
    Edit: Why in the world are shooters allowed to use .223?  No rules?
    That's all I got.

    Paul
  • JayJay Senior Member Posts: 3,904 Senior Member
    Totally killed my dream of dressing up, taking my Sharps and pretending I'm a frontiersman... 
  • GunNutGunNut Posts: 6,094 Senior Member
    Did you keep the hides?  I keep wanting one for the rug but every time I mention it my wife just looks t me and says, exactly WHERE are you laying down that rug?  and for the life of me I have no answer...  :D
    Old West Saying: God created men, but Col. Sam Colt made them equal.

    General George Patton:  “Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack.”

  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 17,025 Senior Member
    I worked with a herd of 300 bison on a 3000 acre refuge for 6 years....First off, if they don't want to be found...well, I have searched for hours to find those critters....
    Mike is spot on about selecting the right critter to eat....a younger cow or bull in the 600 - 800 pound range is about right....those magnificent old herd bulls? They are a nightmare to manage once they are on the ground....the wet hide is about 300 pounds...and the meat is tough as a boot. This is why even the native americans focused their hunts on younger animals. 
    Bison is extremely lean and really needs some help in the fat department...when I was working with bison burger, I would normally mix it with ground pork at a ratio of 1 pound of pig to 3 pounds of bison... For roasts I would tie a pork roast of nearly equal size with the bison roast and put them in the slow cooker...


    Every now and then on the refuge, we would have to put an animal down because of injury...
    The rifle of choice? A head shot out the feed truck window with an AR15 at about 20 feet...

    There are lots of cartridges that will put a bison down humanely...the trick is understanding bison anatomy...the vital area isn't the same as a deer...I shot a young bull with my .45-70 using a 535 grain Postell  over 68 grains of FFG at about 50 yards...complete shoot through..and the critter was down before I could reload.
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • LinefinderLinefinder Moderator Posts: 7,199 Senior Member
    GunNut said:
    Did you keep the hides?  I keep wanting one for the rug but every time I mention it my wife just looks t me and says, exactly WHERE are you laying down that rug?  and for the life of me I have no answer...  :D
    No, I didn't keep the hides. The cost of getting one tanned was WAAY higher than my desire to own one.
    The second on I shot, though, my butcher asked if I didn't want the hide could he have it. Said it was the nicest hide he'd seen in years. I gave it to him, but it didn't get me a discount on the butchering as it turned out.

    Mike
    "Walking away seems to be a lost art form."
    N454casull
  • LinefinderLinefinder Moderator Posts: 7,199 Senior Member
    PFD said:
    Pretty interesting take.
    Probably not my cup of tea but thanks for laying it out.
    Edit: Why in the world are shooters allowed to use .223?  No rules?
    Not a game animal....no rules. The first time out there were 14 shooters, IIRC. At $800 a head. Done well before noon on a Saturday morning. For that kind of money the guy that owns them doesn't give a flip about your choice of firearm or ability with same.

    Mike
    "Walking away seems to be a lost art form."
    N454casull
  • LinefinderLinefinder Moderator Posts: 7,199 Senior Member
    The second time out wasn't that bad. Just myself and one other shooter. A guy from Texas who said he did this every 3-4 years just to keep a little variety in his diet. He asked me what I was shooting and I told him a .270 Win. He laughed and said he had me outgunned.....a .280  Rem.

    The herd was a bit more wary than the year before. We couldn't get closer than ~125 yards.  The "guide" assigned us the 2 designated targets and in less than 10 seconds 2 were dead on the ground with a total expenditure of 3 rounds. The guide had me shoot mine a second time while it was laying on the ground because I'd "hit it too high".  I didn't think so, but fired another round just to not be argumentative.

    Upon field dressing mine, the guide said, "Sorry....didn't need that second shot. I guess my viewing angle was bad". The 2 shots were an inch apart....right where they needed to be.

    The Texan (can't remember his name) invited me down to his place to help him cull some hogs that were tearing the place up. My work schedule wouldn't allow me to do that, and I've always regretted that.

    So, the second time out was much better than the first. But, still.....it wasn't a hunt by any stretch.

    Mike


    "Walking away seems to be a lost art form."
    N454casull
  • BigslugBigslug Senior Member Posts: 8,345 Senior Member
    Not really sure why anybody who's studied the events of the 1870's would even consider it to be "hunting".

    Also funny that an animal that was shot in the 1870's as a money maker for the trigger man is now something the trigger man pays through the nose for.
    WWJMBD?

    "Nothing is safe from stupid." - Zee
  • DrawbarFlatsDrawbarFlats Posts: 788 Senior Member
    edited November 2020 #14
    Who cares. A buffalo "hunt" with an old Shiloh Sharps would be freaking awesome. In truth, despite the Dances with Wolves pop fiction myth, buffalo were always easy to hunt and kill. Would you rather have a cow rug in your den, or, would rather have a freaking cool ass buffalo rug draped over you on a cold winter night?

    ETA: Say what you will about the ease of buffalo hunting, it is no different than baiting deer and sitting in a tree stand. 
  • JerryBobCoJerryBobCo Senior Member Posts: 8,062 Senior Member
    I've had buffalo rugs.  Those things are heavy.  I don't want another one.  
    Jerry

    Gun control laws make about as much sense as taking ex-lax to cure a cough.
  • LinefinderLinefinder Moderator Posts: 7,199 Senior Member
    With my wife having asthma, we can't keep the cat dusted off often enough. A buffalo rug would likely kill her.

    Mike
    "Walking away seems to be a lost art form."
    N454casull
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 17,025 Senior Member
    I've got the robe off a 800 pound cow...it's too big to use as a rug on any floor in our house...too heavy to use for a blanket...tried using it for a bed spread but it engulfs the queen sized bed...right now it's rolled up inside a couple of huge garbage bag up in the rafters of the garage...

    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • bullsi1911bullsi1911 Moderator Posts: 11,247 Senior Member
    Who cares. A buffalo "hunt" with an old Shiloh Sharps would be freaking awesome. In truth, despite the Dances with Wolves pop fiction myth, buffalo were always easy to hunt and kill. Would you rather have a cow rug in your den, or, would rather have a freaking cool ass buffalo rug draped over you on a cold winter night?

    ETA: Say what you will about the ease of buffalo hunting, it is no different than baiting deer and sitting in a tree stand. 
    It’s obvious you have never bait hunted deer. CAN you kill a bait deer that easy?  Sure if you want a terrier sized yearling. If you want a trophy, it takes a bit more
    To make something simple is a thousand times more difficult than to make something complex.
    -Mikhail Kalashnikov
  • LinefinderLinefinder Moderator Posts: 7,199 Senior Member
    edited November 2020 #19
    Hunting deer over bait isn't quite like popping backyard raccoons over peanut butter. Some folks obviously have no experience with either.

    Mike
    "Walking away seems to be a lost art form."
    N454casull
  • bellcatbellcat Senior Member Posts: 1,900 Senior Member
    You should be allowed to shoot one off a horse!
    "Kindness is the language the deaf can hear and the blind can see." Mark Twain
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 17,025 Senior Member
    bellcat said:
    You should be allowed to shoot one off a horse!
    You can...at least once...
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • LinefinderLinefinder Moderator Posts: 7,199 Senior Member
    As to hunting deer under feeders or over bait piles, I've come to conclude there are 3 situations depending on location, time of season, and conditioning.

    1) "Very cold climes" where browse is sparse during deep winter. Any food source will likely encourage deer to drop their guard somewhat and possibly make for "easy hunting". 

    2) "Fenced areas of Texas"...somewhat confusing. Fenced areas in Texas can be quite large, and cost a small fortune to erect and maintain. Anyone with the financial wherewithal to do this isn't likely trying to keep "his" deer in, as much as it is to keep "yours" out. I've hunted these places a few times in my life, and success is somewhat of a mixed bag. Somedays, when the feeder goes off, deer pour in from every direction like clockwork. You choose your target, bop it, then dress it over a cold beer. Other days, maybe a couple weeks on end...nothing at all.....the most exciting thing is making friends with the flying squirrel who has decided your stand is his new home. While success odds are good....they're far from guaranteed.

    3) "Southern jungles"...Louisiana, southern Mississippi, etc....Feeders, bait piles, food plots, etc. make hardly any difference at all. Deer can browse honeysuckle, dried blackberries, and fallen acorns all hunting season long. Corn or rice flour aren't very attractive to them compared to their natural browse. In many years of hunting deer in this environment, I shot exactly one within 10 yards of a corn feeder.....and it had already walked past it without a second glance. About the only advantage you can gain in this situation is to clear shooting lanes and be on your toes. OTOH, "Camp work days" gets you away from the house in the middle of summer.

    Mike


    "Walking away seems to be a lost art form."
    N454casull
  • DrawbarFlatsDrawbarFlats Posts: 788 Senior Member
    Who cares. A buffalo "hunt" with an old Shiloh Sharps would be freaking awesome. In truth, despite the Dances with Wolves pop fiction myth, buffalo were always easy to hunt and kill. Would you rather have a cow rug in your den, or, would rather have a freaking cool ass buffalo rug draped over you on a cold winter night?

    ETA: Say what you will about the ease of buffalo hunting, it is no different than baiting deer and sitting in a tree stand. 
    It’s obvious you have never bait hunted deer. CAN you kill a bait deer that easy?  Sure if you want a terrier sized yearling. If you want a trophy, it takes a bit more
    Ah, yes, I actually have. Several times. Not my cup of tea. 
  • 41magnut41magnut Senior Member Posts: 1,211 Senior Member
    bellcat said:
    You should be allowed to shoot one off a horse!
    Off of the right horse, i.e. - trained, it could be done.

    Otherwise the medical bill will make the hunt fees look like chump change.   
    "The .30-06 is never a mistake." Townsend Whelen :iwo:
  • JerryBobCoJerryBobCo Senior Member Posts: 8,062 Senior Member
    41magnut said:
    bellcat said:
    You should be allowed to shoot one off a horse!
    Off of the right horse, i.e. - trained, it could be done.

    Otherwise the medical bill will make the hunt fees look like chump change.   
    I once read an account of Custer's last trip out west.  During sad trip, he tried to shoot a buffalo from his running horse.  He managed to shoot his horse in the head.  So, there's that, too.
    Jerry

    Gun control laws make about as much sense as taking ex-lax to cure a cough.
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 17,025 Senior Member
    edited November 2020 #26
    41magnut said:
    bellcat said:
    You should be allowed to shoot one off a horse!
    Off of the right horse, i.e. - trained, it could be done.

    Otherwise the medical bill will make the hunt fees look like chump change.   
    I once read an account of Custer's last trip out west.  During sad trip, he tried to shoot a buffalo from his running horse.  He managed to shoot his horse in the head.  So, there's that, too.
    True story...he was trying to kill a buffalo with his Schofield...ended up getting stranded out on the prairie...
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • Ernie BishopErnie Bishop Senior Member Posts: 7,566 Senior Member
    I have always wanted to hunt...shoot a Bison, but I would use a revolver or specialty pistol.
    Cost is one thing that has slowed me down.
    Hunting a semi-tame animal is another reason.
    I will still hunt/shoot a young one, If I can find a good deal money wise.
    Barbary sheep/Aoudad is way above my desire to hunt over a bison....
    Ernie

    "The Un-Tactical"
  • JerryBobCoJerryBobCo Senior Member Posts: 8,062 Senior Member
    Ernie,

    I think I paid about $800 for the 2 1/2 year old cow I shot in southern Colorado.  That was probably 12 or so years ago.  As I have stated earlier, I thought I would be getting cheap meat, which is the only reason I did it.  By the time it was all said and done, though, the meat cost at least $10/lb., and we got tired of eating it before we finished it all.

    There should be plenty of places in Texas that will sell you a Barbary sheep or Aoudad hunt.  I'd be surprised if Zee doesn't know of a few.

    Good luck with whatever you do.
    Jerry

    Gun control laws make about as much sense as taking ex-lax to cure a cough.
  • Ernie BishopErnie Bishop Senior Member Posts: 7,566 Senior Member
    I have a place where I can stand hunt, but I would rather spot in stalk 
    Ernie

    "The Un-Tactical"
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 24,349 Senior Member
    edited November 2020 #30
    One of the best (and hardest) hunts I’ve ever been on was free range Aoudad in West Texas. Damn near killed me humping 3 HUGE Aoudad out on our back after running out of water and being 3 miles from the truck. 

    Furthest shot was around 475 yrds with a .308 Win and 168gr A-Max if I recall correctly. 

    That was over 10 years ago. 
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • Ernie BishopErnie Bishop Senior Member Posts: 7,566 Senior Member
    Awesome!
    Ernie

    "The Un-Tactical"
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