"There is nothing so American as our national parks. The scenery and wildlife are native. The fundamental idea behind the parks is native. It is, in brief, that the country belongs to the people, that it is in process of making for the enrichment of the lives of all of us. The parks stand as the outward symbol of this great human principle." Franklin D. Roosevelt

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Charged By A Bison

Last night Brandon and I went to Hayden Valley to look for wildlife. On the south end of the valley we noticed 3 pullouts full of cars and people with cameras and video cameras. I pulled off the side of the road to the south of the last pullout. There was a group of people with a ranger about 200 feet out from the last pullout so we decided to cross over to the group and see the grizzly down by the river they were watching. We decided to head back to the car so Brandon and I walked diagonally to the road toward the car and were about 100 - 125 feet from the group when I heard someone yell "Look Out!" and then saw a big bull bison charging straight toward us (we didn't see any bison in the area when we left the car or the whole time out with the group). I yelled for Brandon to RUN and we turned around and ran back to the ranger as that was the only direction we could run to. I

am not a runner and running at 8,000 feet is quite a challenge and for that time I honestly didn't think I was going to make it back to that group. But we did and thats when I saw the fear in the ranger's face as he yelled for the group to stay together, look big and run for the road. People ran, cried, screamed and some had small children that they were trying to run with or carry. The road was jammed with cars and people watching this unfold, many with video cameras capturing the stampeding people trying to stay out of the way of this rogue bison as it snorted, ran, twisted and turned.

I ran for the road and once I was at the edge, with my car further down the road, I started looking for vehicles where someone would let me in. That's when I heard the ranger discharge his firearm into the ground trying to scare the bison away from a father and daughter that it had gotten within 15 feet of. The shot didn't stop the bison but it slowed him down. It eventually stopped then charged toward the road. I then heard, "He's on the road!" which is now where I was. Brandon I had gotten seperated and I had the keys to the locked car and he later told me he was searching for someplace to hide and was considering jumping into the bed of a pickup truck. He didn't but hid behind some vehicles and finally made it to the car. I continued to run down the road and made it to the car. I jumped in it, very shaky, tired and scared gasping for breath. I then watched the rogue bison throw his tantrum on the other side of the road and it eventually strolled off.

Brandon and I returned to the scene of the chaos later in the evening to gauge distances. We figure the video will end up on youtube and then we will be able to see how it all unfolded without having that blind fear haze our memory. I will say that this was one of the most (if not the most) terrifying experiences of my life. The whole group literally ran for our lives. Bison are very dangerous and those rogue bison are the extreme. I believe in an earlier post I had written about a wiley bison in Hayden Valley that I had watched earlier this year and I'm thinking that the bison from last night and that one are one in the same.