Saturday, April 13, 2013

To Hunt the Great Beast of the Plains

In the mountain states and the high fence hunting camps, I keep reading about hunting buffalo.  My wife said to me, "Why would you want to shoot one of those beautiful creatures?"  Well, my answer is that the Indians had no trouble hunting them, and as a food source there is very limited fat and cholesterol.  Plus they are high in protein.  This makes them a very desirable food source, plus you can hunt them in the wild or semi-wild. 

A personal friend had a severe heart attack a couple of years ago, and being from western Nebraska, beef was his main source of meat.  Not any more.  He switched to buffalo, and added chicken and fish.  If you haven't tried it, you will find it a little dry, but it has an excellent flavor. 

The first thing was where to go.  Surfing the net took me first to South Dakota, home of the Sioux and Mount Rushmore.  Plus, Custer State Park has a hunting opportunity.  The website is full of information, and I found this very inviting.  Licensing is available for both residents and non residents.  The tag costs range in price for a trophy bull at $5,000, a non trophy bull at $1,500 and a cow at $1,000.  South Dakota requires a guide and as I studied the website, it left me with the impression that the price includes the guide.  There is a preference point system and it is a limited draw.  If you do not draw, but apply next year, your odds go up on getting a tag.  Camping is available in the park, and there are motels outside the park a few miles away. 

The state of South Dakota uses hunting as a method to manage the herd.  Check at their website for more information.

Besides the state area, there are several large scale ranches that have buffalo and provide a wide variety of services.  Since you would be hunting on private ground, there is no license requirement.  The hunting fees that include lodging, guide, and field dressing, range in price for a trophy bull to a cow.  This depends on just how first class you want to go to harvest an animal.  I like to be taken care of when I hunt buffalo. 

Checking Wyoming, I found the license to be $2,502 for a non resident.  Ouch! I did not even look further about hunting state land.  It should be noted that in Wyoming a license is obtained on a draw basis.  They also utilize a preference point system whereby you can purchase points to increase your chances of obtaining a license.

Just like South Dakota, Wyoming has some excellent opportunities to hunt private ranches and enjoy the comforts of an excellent hunting lodge and fine food.

I checked with High Adventure Ranch.  There was an opportunity to hunt Bison and just a few hundred miles from my home.  I failed to draw an Elk tag this year for Wyoming, and High Adventure Ranch offers Elk hunts.  With excellent guides, food, and lodging, plus I have been there before, my plan is hunt Elk with them.  While there, I can check out the Bison hunting.

After reading over the various websites, I found they recommended to use a minimum of a rifle with a 30-06 capability, and the preferred round by one site was a 300.  A muzzle velocity of 2,200 feet per second was advised as a minimum.   Besides being beautiful, these are really big animals and it takes a big bang to bring one down.

My friends in western Nebraska were paying around $9.00 per pound when they purchased it from a packing plant in South Dakota, and that was dressed out and processed.  Consider a 1,500 pound animal processed out at 40%.  That would be around 600 pounds of meat.  At $9.00 per pound, it would almost be the same as a hunt at a high fence ranch. 

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