I have a score to settle with the bison.
On my last camping trip, Sandy asked me why I decided to go from a tent to an RV. I didn’t have to think about my answer. Buffalo poop.
|"Listen to this story. Wanna bet we're the bad guys?"|
There I was in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Setting up my tent in the deserted campground. I was having trouble finding a spot for my 8x8 tent due to these numerous mysterious mounds of brown stuff.
|What the ..... ?|
By now, it was getting dark. I weighed my options. Too warm to sleep in my Chevy Blazer with the windows up and too buggy to sleep with them down. What to do? I set up my tent and hoped I was wrong about my conclusions, and cursed myself for my naivete.
Brushing aside my fears, I attended a ranger talk that night - along with a couple who had arrived late and were camped in a truck-camper across the way from me. After the program I asked the ranger if buffalo ever came through the campground at night, hoping for a reassuring negative response. He responded in a booming voice, “Oh, all the time!!!”
Gulp.“Just remember to stay in your tent”, he cautioned. “Especially now”, he added with emphasis, “it’s rutting season, you know, and the males like to fight”.
His last piece of advice, “Just remember to stay in your tent. And that they are bigger than you”.
I returned to my tent in the dark. My unease was magnified by 2 recent unsettling experiences. Several days before, I had read a front page story about a tourist who was just attacked and killed by a buffalo bull in Wyoming.
And earlier in the day, near the Park entrance, I had to stop the Blazer to let a herd of the huge beasts cross the road. There were several young males who were strutting their stuff and dashing about erratically. Anyone who has seen buffalo up close knows what a thrilling but intimidating site it is.
Believe me, these are scary animals even from the safety of an SUV. They are massively massive.
So here I was with nothing but a few microns of nylon between me and them. I looked across the campground at that solid truck-camper with soul-searing envy. That was the moment.
The end of the story is anticlimactic. No buffalo came through that night. I suspect that was only because of the heavy rainstorm and ferocious lightening. I didn’t get much sleep.What with work and life interfering, I never made it back to where the Buffalo roam. And it took 10 years to get my buffalo surveillance van.
I'll keep the promise I made to myself to return one day and face the buffalo on a more even footing. I can’t wait till June and want nothing more than to see them up close. Really close. From the steel-encased safety of the GDB.
|Badlands National Park|