That’s what Montanans were warned by Senator John Brenden and Republican Senator Scobey , of Senate Bill 144, which aims to prevent Bison from roaming free in Montana and put them behind another fence. We were also warned that “there are people out there who would like Montana to be the Big Open, and to hell with everybody else.” I guess he was talking about you and me?
Yellowstone National Park’s Buffalo, the last remaining genetically pure Buffalo in the world, are the only wildlife since the time of Lewis & Clark that hasn’t’ been restored. Republican Scobey also cited during a heated debate in Helena, “Bison relocation would destroy property, create a disease threat for livestock and reduce recreational opportunities for people”.
With talk of never ending war, property destruction and my recreational opportunities being threatened, I figured since this was all happening just down the road from me, I should investigate these warnings from our legislative leaders. The ordeal I witnessed really provided the true merit in the wisdom of Senator Scobey and Brenden.
En route to Gardiner along the Yellowstone RiverI appreciated the newly introduced electronic road sign warning me of “animals on roadway”. I thought, maybe those two guys were right, the sky really is falling. I rolled up my window just in case Brucellosis bacteria was floating around in the air, and I wondered if perhaps I should have brought some sort of protection other than my suburban and tough little wife for back up. I noticed some undercover spies just like the sign warned, though they looked like Big Horn sheep, I wasn’t fooled, there were indeed animals.
I tried to rehearse my preparations for going into war. I realized I had none, but I figured my 15 years as an outfitter, a lifetime as a country boy and my own courage would be enough to get me through. I was grateful for the semantics of the sign, “animals” and not wildlife. I made a mental note to consider the difference between the two as we forged onward.
I slowed my drive with caution which created a bit of road rage in the form of horn honks and quick passes, but I figured these guys must be some kind of special forces, much braver than me, choosing to rush into the battle ahead. I gave them the local “salute” and hoped they would be safe.
We pulled off at the Game Check Station across from the Buffalo holding Pens. They looked fairly secure behind electric fences and 10 foot woven wire, however I dared not approach for fear of enticing these deadly critters from their prison. I chose to act instead as a tourist and took a few photos. I learned this technique long ago when my Father and I pretended like we were fishing in Lamar Valley, as we were surrounded by nearly 500 of these beasts, we were lucky to make it back to the truck.
There they were, those destructive beasts had formed strong-hold at the entrance of the school. What sort of animal has the ability to formulate such dangerous war-like tactics, holding helpless Bingo players hostage, even ignoring the big Grizzly bear decoy right in front of them. This was serious.
A group of roughly a dozen of these elusive critters acted as if they were just lazily grazing on the front lawn of the school. With my new knowlesge, I confirmed this behavior as one of the secret tactics that I’d been warned of. They were pulling the old “we’re just hungry animals” move…I’d seen that before. Then it got worse as we entered into the heart of the storm.
Not only had these villians taken over the school, but had also pushed the limits of the law and I caught them ignorantly loitering in a clearly designated signed area…and, it also looked they had been illegally-naturally been fertilizing the local football field. I’ve heard of chemical warfare, but this was my first real vision of it. There goes my recreational opportunities, but to take that away from innocent children and bingo players, what cruelty.
Just then a sleek SUV pulled up, it was a friend of mine driving around with his wife and child. Talk about bravery. Then I thought, maybe he’s a spy, maybe his smile and friendly attitude to get me out of my truck for chat was a ploy, all in an undercover scheme to get me out there amongst these dangerous foes I’d been warned of.
As I leaned against his rig and talked of fishing and hunting, nice days and blue skies, I knew for sure I was being set up.
“If you believe in science, these animals are safer than any other animal in Montana, or for that matter, in the world”
-Fish, Wildlife & Parks Director Joe Maurier.
Behind me strode one of those disease spreading, and property destructing monsters. Again, using another tactic, playing the “I’m just aBuffalo crossing the road”, I knew that move and prepared myself for what was to come next…I couldn’t stop shaking. Fortunately a brave woman pulled up behind us and altered the Buffalos plan with a photo flash and giggle. I’d yet to realize the value of this technique, but noted it for future survival during the “war that would never end”.
Once I’d made it safely in my rig, I decided that it was best to just head for cover, it was way too heated, way too intense, way too war-like. I questioned the plot of the other 20 or so Buffalo that were pulling that “I’m just resting here” move. I thought it best I get back to cover and make sure this report from the front lines made it out. Thank goodness for that sound advice I’d received from someone who lives 300 miles away.
Obviously, I’ve just had some fun above, but in this moment I really had no choice simply because the reality of what I’ve seen is so hard to believe, so hard to swallow that I figured, why not.
If you’d like to see free-roaming brucellosis free Buffalo the next time you drive through Paradise Valley, Montana please join my friends at the Gallatin Wildlife Association. And, as a testament to my commitment to get all the facts as we enter this battle together, please visit my friends from the Buffalo Field Campaign. They’re truly modern day CJ Box non-fictional characters!
Many of you have asked…”what are your thoughts on these Buffalo if they are able to make it to Dome Mountain Ranch?” For the record, here they are: I’ve lived here for 15 years, prior to that time I worked inside Yellowstone Park at hands down the most grounded location-Roosevelt Lodge. Before that, I was a school teacher and a newspaper man. I’ve been a lover of everything outdoors, but above all that, I came to realize how important it is to correct those things in nature we’ve really screwed up. While the world is full of painful diseases and tragedy, I believe the answer is there in those things we’ve yet to duplicate despite our technology and advancements. Nature.
Elk migrate to our area every year from the park. I take great care to make sure that they’re able to continue with their 15,000 year old genetic dispositions to thier historical trek from our first National Park. I don’t own Dome Mountain Ranch, but I can tell you this, we’re talking about the last best place, literally. You will find no other tract of Yellowstone river that is as open and as free as you will right here. For that, I have the utmost of respect and admiration for the man who told me that he bought it so “that it wouldn’t be developed”. This has not been an easy battle as development continues all around us, even in my short time here.
I also recognize that this development has altered wildlife habits, not just homes and golf courses, but something as simple as a barbed wire fence, a parking lot, an rv park, a newly opened road, an atv trail, or a new Super 8 can alter wildlife patterns from doing what is natural. We all make mistakes, it’s what we learn from them that makes the difference. It’s about taking responsibility.
I’m a solid believer in science. Wildlife management, conservation and environmentalists are broadly abused, but I’m not so shy to tell you that careful, ethical hunting not only serves as the most proven management tool, it also allows many to feel more in harmony with nature-but only when science prevails. This also carries more honor and integrity than creative marketing and greed.
It is a fact that hunters are responsible for bringing back all the wildlife you can now enjoy. Who else spends as much time afield observing nature than those who have chosen this as a profession? Very few. You can’t feel the dirt, smell the Sage and feel the rush from your couch or your hi-rise office.
Personally, I’d rather eat an elk or Buffalo steak than some processed domestic critter from the local super market. I know it’s better for me, it’s healthier in more ways than I can begin to define here. I find no American pride in buying something made somewhere else that took one of my friends jobs. I choose the freedom to earn it differently. On the same note. My neighbors, friends and others with thier own lifestyle are always considered. I believe we can do this together as a culture to return many things to the way they were. This is one of the main reasons I’m a proud and active member of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Trout Unlimited, two solid organizations that preserve both our land and our water for all fish and wildlife. I push both on anyone I meet and I can prove to you that many others are worth calling to the stage. Even if you don’t hunt or fish, make sure you know where your donation goes and what for.
As for my thoughts on hunting Buffalo. In considering what I’ve observed with thousands of days afield, both day and night, in the back country and from the same highway many of you have traveled, these animals deserve an oppportunity to become wild again. I’ve witnessed incredible displays of speed, atheleticism and prey instincts that provides me with a passionate testimony to fight to the end that proves they cannot and are not domesticated, they are wild animals. If anyone tells you they’re worried about property destruction or knocking down their fences, trust me, a 4 foot fence is diddly. What you’re hearing is desperate procrastination, science and astrology are two different things.
The very same “tame” elk that we’ve seen at Mammoth grazing on the lawn outside the local post office on irrigated, manicured lawns are the same animals that have tested my body and skills to the limit to the point that I’ve bowed my head in respect that I am no match for their instincts. I believe Buffalo deserve the same opportunity to humble me. I also believe that our true experts of wildlife management need the opportunity to continue doing what they’re good at. Buffalo are not Livestock. Nuff said.
Should the day come that I can rest against an old caron created with rocks,many of which could have been literrally moved by the hands of Jim Bridger, John Colter, Teddy Roosevelt, a Native American, or even you and me, and gaze out onto the wide open basins under “Stand’s Peak”, “Red Mountain”, “Garden Creek”, “Monitor Basin” and the many places that I know few have seen only in photos…well, I’d like to give them the chance to get wild. To live free, to establish habitat. . Then maybe one day, teach another the same as we have for so many. Maybe one day have an opportunity to fill my freezer with the tastiest meat I’ve ever had.
If you would like to contribute in some other way, please feel free to leave your comments right here and I’ll do my best to make sure they go to the right place. If you’re new to “Blogging”…here’s how it works:
In the above you’ll notice that some of the words and phrases are “clickable”. As you read through my ramblings, this allows you to jump to other websites and links, all of which will provide more information to help inform you as the reader. You can’t hurt anything, click away!
At the end of each of these “blogs” is an opportunity to “comment”, even if your shy, don’t hesitate, you won’t recieve spam and at least your thoughts will be heard. If you are a spammer, please provide youre address and office location, I’d be happy to set up a face to face meeting with you. Otherwise, this blog serves as a springboard for both entertainment and most importantly, virtualistic armchair wildlife education. However, without the ability to hear thoughts from everyone, some will assume that what hasn’t been proven is reality. Don’t buy into that. Take this as an opportunity to participate!
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If you just want to talk hunting or fishing, call me toll free…800-313-4868.
Thanks again to all of you who’ve been courageous enough to step up for what is right.
“See You on the Mountain!”
Jim “JB” Klyap, Outfitter #7843
800-313-4868Tags: Buffalo Field Campaign, Free Roaming Buffalo, Montana Wildlife, The Department of Livestock | Categories: Controversial Issues, elk hunting outfitter, fair chase elk hunting, Hunter Ethics, Montana Elk Hunting, montana guided elk hunts, Montana Hunts | Comments (0) | Permalink