Today's Sportsman: Bison hunt

Brian Blickenstaff, left, of Wolfsville poses with his 13-year old daughter, Brianna, right, who harvested an American bison on the Flying D Ranch in Bozeman, Montana, on July 22.

When Brianna Blickenstaff, of Wolfsville, was 8 years old, she successfully completed the Maryland hunter education course to earn a hunter safety training certificate. Over the past five years, while under the mentorship of her father, Brian Blickenstaff, Brianna has hunted white-tailed deer and wild turkey in her home state of Maryland. Brianna has demonstrated safe gun handling in the field, improved her marksmanship and learned more about hunting than most others her age.

Years before Brianna was born, Brian began making annual hunting trips to western states in pursuit of big game. Now at the age of 13, Brianna has two passions, playing soccer and hunting with her father. Brian decided his daughter was ready for the challenge of a western big-game hunt. The Blickenstaffs decided to organize their family summer vacation around a hunt for American bison in Montana.

Arrangements were made for Brianna to harvest a bison on a private ranch owned by Turner Enterprises Inc. in Montana. Turner Ranch Outfitting is the hunting and fishing division of TEI and offers hunting, fishing and eco-tourism adventures on 10 Turner ranches in five Midwestern states.

According to their website, TRO’s commercially managed hunts are highly regulated. In addition to coordinating guest services with Turner ranch managers, TRO conducts wildlife surveys, provides supervision for contract biologists, and oversees the activity of contract outfitters and leaseholders. TRO also has longstanding relationships with outstanding contract outfitters who handle outfitting opportunities.

Brianna’s hunt was booked through the Montana Hunting Co. for a guided bison harvest on the Flying D Ranch, a 113,000-acre property near Bozeman. Bison hunts are scheduled for July and August during the pre-rut and rut bison breeding season because the bison beards and hair are the longest during this time period and make incredible shoulder mounts. A mature bull weighs up to 2,500 pounds and can yield as much as 700 pounds of meat.

Bison-bound

On July 21, the Blickenstaffs flew from Maryland to Bozeman and rented a car to drive to the Flying D Ranch. That evening, before the scheduled hunt, the family was treated to a ranch tour and an opportunity to locate and view the bison herd for the following day’s hunt.

The very scenic Flying D Ranch supports a bison herd of approximately 2,300 adult animals. These bison are minimally handled and are as close to wild bison as can be. It was an incredible opportunity to witness the vast herd of bison in natural habitat during the breeding season for the Blickenstaffs.

“My favorite part of the hunting trip was to see thousands of bison standing in the field on the ranch,” Brianna said. “There were so many, and it was so cool to see them up close.”

Brianna was able to gain first-hand knowledge about bison, such as the unique grunting and roaring sounds they make during the breeding season.

“On this trip I learned a lot about bison, like what sounds they make or how to tell how old they are by the rings on their horns,” Brianna said.

Early the next morning, Brianna and her father were set in position by their guides in sight of the large bison herd in the distance. The plan was to wait for a mature bull to move into rifle range.

The oldest bulls, usually at least 10-12 years old, live separately from the main herd. At this time of year, the old bulls move down from the mountains to breed, and these are the bulls the game managers prefer to thin from the herd. It didn’t take long before a large bull began moving into range of Brianna’s .260 Rem rifle.

The bison came much closer than expected and made for a few exciting moments.

“When the bison was only 30 yards away from me and I was about to shoot, the guide thought it was going to charge at us,” she said.

The guide quickly brought out his rifle just in case the beast did charge. But Brianna shot three rounds quickly and accurately to put the game down.

“The guides were very impressed with her shooting ability,” Brian said.

“The hunt was not what I was expecting … these bison are as wild as wild can be,” Brian said.

Brianna’s mother, Jennifer Blickenstaff, was thrilled with her daughter’s success.

“She loves to hunt, and this was her first big hunt,” Jennifer said.

Fortunately, the hunt included in-field processing. The bison was delivered to a local meat processor and the head to a local taxidermist. It was decided not to send any of the meat back to Maryland for fear that it would spoil during shipping. Instead, the meat was donated to be sold to needy local families at very low cost. The Blickenstaffs were able to enjoy bison burgers and steaks served at local restaurants during their stay.

Although the bison hunt was the highlight of the trip, it was not the end to the summer adventure for the Blickenstaffs. They drove their rental car to Wyoming to fly fish for cutthroat trout in Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone is also home to the largest wild herd of bison in the United States. The Blickenstaffs spent a few nights at the Old Faithful Lodge in the park before driving to Jackson Hole, where they had an exciting float trip down the Snake River.

Contact Dan Neuland at: danneuland@verizon.net.

(38) comments

jwhamann

Eat a bison that was about to die anyway? Gross.

gabrielshorn2013

Where did it say that jw? Is said that they were to be culled from the herd. That is what maintained herds do to stay within the carrying capacity of the land, rather than allowing nature to take its course through starvation and allowing wolves kill them.

jwhamann

Are the strong, healthy ones culled from the herd or the old, sick ones?

gabrielshorn2013

When the number reaches a certain level that the environment can safely sustain, the excess are culled. That does not mean only the sick and feeble, it also includes healthy animals that wouldn't be healthy if they were allowed to starve. Do some homework and look it up yourself.

niceund

Nice to donate. Sad that it had to be a "sport". Sad that it was necessary to post a photo with the "food" and a gun. If you're hunting for food then hunt for food.

gabrielshorn2013

Congratulations young lady, it will be an experience with your Dad that you will cherish for life. Thank you for donating your harvest to those less fortunate.

Samanthapowers

meh. they had no choice but to donate it. and that decision was made after the kill. so what was the point of shooting that majestic creature? for fun?

gabrielshorn2013

They were older animals already scheduled to be culled from the herd sam. No, they could have had it processed, frozen, and shipped home on dry ice if they wanted to. They chose not to, and donated the meat to feed the hungry.

Samanthapowers

Aside, what’s the name of the book you recommended on gun violence? Looking for my next read. Thank you!

gabrielshorn2013

The two in my library are:



Extreme Killing: Understanding Serial and Mass Murder by James Alan Fox



The Will To Kill: Making Sense of Senseless Murder by James Alan Fox



Fox and Levin have several others also. All are available on Amazon.

jwhamann

Who wants to eat old bison meat?

Samanthapowers

Thank you

KR999

Correction, "infirmed."

Comment deleted.
Samanthapowers

where's that can of Raid when you need it? Pesky little gnat keeps looking for attention.

Quisling

I don't know many people that can pull a trigger and shoot a stationary target, very impressive indeed.

KR999

You did read that she's only 13, that she got off 3 rounds accurately, and you can see that she used a bolt action, right? Yep, I say it's impressive for a young lady her age.

Samanthapowers

the look on the fathers face says it all.

KR999

Yeah, he's thinking "Boy, I sure wish I could get all this meat home and into my freezer."

Samanthapowers

sure does not look like it. try again, cs.

KR999

It was his idea to go on the hunt. Try again, pe.

Samanthapowers

nice they donated it but i highly doubt this was a humanitarian mission to provide low cost bison to struggling families. then they go to a restaurant? how lame.

Comment deleted.
Samanthapowers

dude, you are just way slow. sorry!

Samanthapowers

If you keep telling yourself that it may come true one day. Problem is things have to be dumbed way down when dealing with you.

Samanthapowers

it would have funny if the bison did charge and donated their meat to struggling bison families. oh the irony.

Comment deleted.
Samanthapowers

per the usual, the point goes right over your tiny little head. isn't it time for you to eat at jimmy johnnys?

Comment deleted.
Samanthapowers

typical comment from a dude that likes to pick up deer racks from road kill off the side of the road and put them in his home. yeah, a real keyboard hunter and warrior. talk the talk but you sure do not walk the walk.

Samanthapowers

because you wrote it under one of your previous names (before you were banned). multiple personality disorder, cd/kfc?

Samanthapowers

another symptom of your multiple account (some banned) confusion.

KR999

What a beautiful picture from an amazing experience, I envy the young lady. I imagine the meat could have been shipped back after freezing it, but it would have been pretty expensive to keep frozen in order to do so. Good that it was donated to a worthy cause, and the head mounted on her wall will be a topic of pride and conversation for years to come. Bison is delicious, better for you than beef, and I love its gamey taste.

Samanthapowers

you picked some up at the supermarket, cs? lol.

KR999

Yes, I have pe, and ate great bison burgers at the Buckhorn Exchange in Colorado too. Just because you're too wimpy to try it doesn't mean everyone is.

KR999

Boy oh boy, I bet this gets the libs here all up in arms ([lol]) about murdering, sport hunters posing with the innocent, victimized game that they slaughtered, and all for fun.

User1

You mean for the same reason that they are staging an effort to boycott Jimmy Johns because there is a 10 year old picture of him and an elephant he shot...LEGALLY? You won’t hear anything about this killing because it doesn’t fit the “narrative” of the left!

Samanthapowers

you do realize elephants are an endangered species? what is the point of killing an elephant? please respond. can't wait to hear the justification on this one. that jmmy jonny is garbage anyways.

Samanthapowers

typical keyboard warrior comment. you just don't get it.

Samanthapowers

what's the current market for ivory, cs?

KR999

You have a computer, do your own research, pe.

KR999

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup] User.

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