Tall Tales from a Small Texan

A Bison Tale

An Awakening

I woke up to a morning on the edge of freezing in the Black Hills with a bison just on the other side of my tent, grazing and breathing heavily.  His head was bigger than me, which seemed to wipe out any urgency about anything.  He munched grass while I lay in reverence, surrounded in crystallized bison breath and tickled by him as he brushed up against the tent every now and then.

I had met him the night before.  On the Needles highway.

The Meeting

I was making my way across the US on a motorcycle.  I had met a fellow rider in the Badlands of South Dakota and was now sharing a campsite with him in the Black Hills.  My fellow cyclist asked me if I wanted to ride with him to see the lighting of the Mount Rushmore memorial one evening and I said yes.  To quite a memorable ride.

As I mounted the back of the bike, I was asked, “Don’t you want your helmet?”  I’m thinking it’s too hard to see the wildlife with a helmet and we’re in a National park – I hadn’t gone over 15mph yet.  Why would I need a helmet?

Why?  Because he was on a racing bike, not a touring bike.

We proceeded going up the Needles highway as fast as he could possibly handle the inclines and switchbacks.  Exhilarating!

And he came down the highway as fast as he possibly could –  frightening!  Ultimately, I just shut my eyes and gave myself over to the experience.

All of a sudden we were turned perpendicular to the road and in full skid mode for way too many seconds counting. We came to a screeching halt still on the bike and standing upright.  Milagro!  It took a bit of time for me to open my eyes.  When I did, there was an ominous dark void in front of me.

Slowly, the night time light began to outline the visage of a huge bison.  Within feet of us.  And there was absolutely no going around him.  He took up the entire two lane road.  He had halted us.  I was in complete awe and began praying –  to the bison.

I am not sure how long it took, but the bison finally began moving.  We were quite close to the entrance of our campground and followed the bison in, passed him up, and then he followed us to our campsite. He hung with us by the fire.   And he stayed all night.

The Awakening

I am an adrenaline junkie.  I loved the ride.  I cannot lie.  But they have so little territory left to roam.  ‘Nuf said.  I would go on to encounter many animals with the same plea while living in the northwest.

My friend Evy summed it up well.   “We should let bisons be bisons.”






Comments are closed.