Wanting to tick another item off my bucket list, coupled the annual buffalo roundup in South Dakota’s Custer State Park with my 11th state marathon in Scottsbluff Nebraska.

Packed & on the road right after work Thursday – road tripped across rural Wyoming, before landing in Hot Springs, SD for the night.  Deep political conversation with the Mumbai-native inn keeper, then 6 hours of shut-eye.

(Indian folk LOVE politics.  Safely skirted a late 11pm ‘Muslim vs Hindu’ discussion by blurting ‘Sonia Gandhi’ 🙂 )

Up at sunrise & an hour north to Custer State Park, focused on arriving before park gates closed to cars.

What I did not plan on were 4 unscheduled stops.  HUGE bulls walked directly in front of/stopping my car – snorting, blowing, showing no fear – allowing ample time for their family harems to safely cross the road.

HUGE STRONG, symbol of the Old West – why I LOVE LOVE bison.

Parked & sat in tall prairie grass awaiting today’s adventure, scheduled to start at 9am.  Looking around, this land hasn’t changed in a hundred years.  Felt like I had been transported to the 1880’s.

 

Why are the bison rounded up?

The Buffalo Roundup is part of Custer State Park’s management plan to maintain a healthy balance between the number of bison and the available rangeland forage. The park can only sustain a certain number of bison, based on the condition of the grassland and how much food is available. The Buffalo Roundup also allows for some of the animals to be sorted out of the herd, they are then sold at an auction in November.

 

How many bison are there in the herd?

There are approximately 1,300. Note: The big bull bison are not included in the Roundup because they are more aggressive and are simply hard to round up.

 

What happens to the bison after they’re in the corrals?

Once placed in the corrals, park staff sorts out approximately 300 animals to be sold, vaccinates the new members of the herd, brands the new calves, and checks the cows for pregnancy. It takes about four days to work the entire herd.

 

Folks with binoculars stood & the crowd began to murmur.  I could hear their thundering hooves, see the plume of dust across the prairie.  BUFFALO! BUFFALO!  Is this how Native Americans felt?  Heart racing, holding my breath, spine tingling.

Bison racing single-file across the prairie, followed close by cowboys on horseback.

and then it happened….

Tens of buffalo rolled over the hillside in waves, the crowd around me cheered loudly.

Frozen.  No words.

Tatonka.  I am John Dunbar, Dances with Wolves.

A moment in time I’ll never forget.

 

Make dreams happen, experience life.  Live a life with absolutely no regrets.

 

 

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