Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Plains Bison

The American bison has two subspecies: the plains bison and the wood bison. The plains bison is what we in the U.S. think of as a bison or buffalo. The plains bison or buffalo is limited today to managed public herds or private herds. The pictures below were all taken in Yellowstone National Park. In the last few years I've had an opportunity to eat buffalo in many different forms and I now consider it to be perhaps my favorite type of meat. I've had buffalo tongue, bone marrow, ribs, ribeye, New York steak, sausage and hamburger. Buffalo meat is leaner than beef and has a very distinctive, good flavor. The bulls, below, are massive, and can get up to 2,500 pounds.
A female below, leading two calves.
A common buffalo behavior is to wallow in depressions of dirt, dry or wet, and cover themselves with dust or mud.
We saw some buffalo near a river and enjoyed watching them in that atypical habitat.
The buffalo, below, swims across the river.
A closer view. The horns, which are on both males and females, appear to be below the eye.
Emerging from the river.
A closeup of the male's head. A shaggy mop and beard that would make any '60s rocker proud.
A closeup of a female head (there are actually two, thus two muzzles are showing). Much less shaggy head and facial fur.
A closeup of the male's body reveals powerful shoulders covered in the shaggy fur and a powerful hind quarters.
The female does not have the shaggy shoulder fur and the hind quarters are not as powerful.
In addition to Yellowstone, I have seen buffalo on Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake, Catalina Island off of Long Beach and small private herds in Heber City, Utah and outside Jackson, Wyoming. My grandfather, Horace Sorensen, who established Pioneer Village in Salt Lake, had a buffalo in the village which was behind his home. I recall hearing the story about my brother, Layne, taunting the buffalo one weekend when the village was closed to the public. The bull got so worked up it broke through the fence and got loose in the village.

On Thanksgiving Day in November 2013 I went to Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake with Sam. We saw a number of bison in several different groupings. The first grouping of about five bison was below Buffalo Point and above Bridger Bay.
Two bulls below Buffalo Point on Antelope Island.

Bridger Bay in the background.
We saw another grouping of two big bulls about one mile north and east of Bridger Bay.
Large bull east of Bridger Bay.
Large bull feeding.


  1. Thank you for the wonderful bison pictures. We saw them last summer in Yellowstone, but also in Badlands National Park and Custer State Park. You can see what I learned at my Silver Threads blog: Click on Bison Bison under pages.

  2. Hahahaha, I don't think I'd ever heard that story about Layne! Priceless.