No, that’s not a typo; bison bison is the actual scientific name for bison (the American buffalo). Kind of goofy, but bison are not goofy animals at all. They are super cool. We spent the weekend in Cheyenne, Wyoming where my dad and step-mom met up with us. This morning we went out to the Terry Bison Ranch, a real working 27,500 acre bison ranch that spans the Colorado and Wyoming border. Learn interesting things about bison below the fold.
The most important thing I learned is that you should never ride a bison. Never. Under any circumstances. Even if the circumstance is that your friend Dave is with you and keeps saying something like, “Wow; it’d sure be cool if you rode that bison!” Don’t ride the bison. Now, you may be thinking, “Why? Bison look so calm and peaceful.”
A bison will kill you. Also, if I wasn’t clear, “A BISON WILL KILL YOU.” Bison can be fairly sedate, but that is not really their natural state and they don’t stay in it long. So you may be riding around on what seems like a calm bovine when all of a sudden you are being killed by a bison. How could a bison possibly kill you? Let’s look at the tape:
The bison is the largest land animal in North America, a full grown male weighing in at 2,300-2,600 lbs (1,045-1,182 kg for our non-Yank friends). He’s bigger than you. A full grown, healthy bison can run non-stop at 30 mph (48 kph) for 3 hours. He’s faster than you and has more endurance. A full grown male can toss an 1800 lb load 6 feet in the air with its head. ‘Nuf said. Oh, they also like to head-butt things.
If those physical attributes don’t impress you, here are some details about the toughness of bison. Bison don’t run ahead of a storm; they lolly-gag around and laugh at it. And not just any old whimpy storm either. They’ll stand around in a full-on blizzard and -30 F temperatures. Not only will they stand around, but they’ll face into it and move to the top of the windiest hill they can find. Now, that’s tough! They do this because the wind will blow the snow off their grazing land and they can eat–and they’re tough enough to stand there and eat in the blizzard.
They’re also pretty agile. A full grown 2,500 lb bison can jump over a 5 ft fence from a standing start. The Knicks need to sign them some bison.
So all of these things are pretty cool, but for carnivores the story is even better. Bison meat is one of the healthiest things you can eat. It is 70% leaner than beef. It has less cholesterol than beef. It has better protein content than fish or chicken. It has to be slow-cooked (like BBQ) because of the extremely low fat content, but that is a minor drawback.
We had a good time touring the bison heards in a bus that looks as if has come out on the wrong end of a few bison duels. Some of them came right up to the bus and Janell got a couple really good pictures. We learned how to tell the age and sex of bison by looking at their horns. Females’ horns curve around the head and point at each other. Males’ horns grow away from the head. They start to grow the horns in their 2nd year, and by looking at the amount of curve you can tell how old they are until they’re about 7 years old. At this point a female’s horns just about touch and won’t grow anymore and a male’s just stops growing.
The ranch also has camels, ostrich, llama, and goats. You can see all of them and interact with some. They have a llama named Frosty that is very friendly and will walk around the ranch and beg for food. He tried to get on our tour bus which was good times.
Also learned a second really cool thing: Ostrich are mean. Okay, I already was aware of that, but not that they’ve been known to take down a lion in the wild and gut it with one foot strike. Yikes!
If you’re ever in the Cheyenne area I would highly recommend dropping by the Terry Bison Ranch. In the Summer, they’re quite busy with Cheyenne Frontier Days and people staying at the ranch (They have a bunk house, cabins and RV slips). But if you go, remember, “Don’t ride the bison; they’ll kill you.”