Guidelines: Bison in the Books

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By Simon Ambit

I am a person who loves the outdoors. I love to hike in the mountains and ride horses anywhere available. I enjoy bumbling down a back road on a four-wheeler and I enjoy the challenge of enticing a fish from the bottom of the creek bed or hunting the elusive Rocky Mountain elk. So, this past weekend when my father invited me to join him on a trip to go see the wildlife of the Bookcliff Mountains, I jumped at the opportunity.

Arriving atop the range just before dark, we saw elk and deer around nearly every turn. As it grew too dark to see the animals, we found a nice little grove of trees for a campsite and decided to forego the tent and just sleep on our cots under the stars. Apparently we are not very good meteorologists, for at just after the midnight hour it began to rain! We quickly left our cozy sleeping bags in a rush to set up the tent.

I can only imagine the sight that we must have been. Two grown men, scrambling around in our pajamas at midnight, under the storming light of a nearly full moon, setting up a tent in the rain!

Still laughing about the experience the next morning, we left camp before breakfast and set out to see more animals. We had a great time as we saw a plethora of deer throughout the morning, but the highlight of the morning came when we looked down into a shallow canyon and saw a herd of bison! I had never before seen them in the wild and it was an experience I was grateful to be able to share with my dad. In an effort to get a closer look, we drove around the rim of the canyon and hiked down toward where we thought we might be able to head them off and sneak in close.

The plan worked out perfectly. As we stealthily got about half way down into the canyon, the herd came meandering right by us! We were fortunate enough to get within about 50 yards of them as they grazed quietly by. After a short time, some of them looked right at us and surprisingly enough to me, they remained unalarmed.

I felt as if I had taken a step back in time. The herds of bison that once dotted the great American Frontier and who were at one time nearly extinct now stood there in all their legacy just 50 yards from my gaze! It was an experience that I may never have again and one that I am grateful to have shared with my “old man.”

So, if you have a day to spend and a little bit of luck, you might be able to travel to the tops of the Bookcliffs and get a look at the majesty of our national animal, the American Bison.

Life is good and the outdoors are great; go enjoy them both… but keep an eye out for rain!