Well, There’s Something You Don’t See Every Day
April 1, 2015
What a night!
Yesterday evening, my neighbor, Ron, pulled into my driveway like a scene out of Fast and Furious, tires spitting caliche rock as he slid up to the gate.
Ordinarily, I’d have been annoyed at this behavior, but you have to understand, Ron is an older guy… a retired, accounting type, not some young redneck… so seeing him drive like this was reason to be concerned. I was halfway across the yard by the time he slung his door open and started to get out. Bad thoughts were spinning through my head… had he injured himself? Had something happened to his wife?
“Do you have a big rifle,” he asked as I trotted up to the truck?
It brought me up short. “What?”
Ron knows I do a lot of my rifle hunting with the 30-06, and I know he’s got a .243 and a couple of ARs. “What do you mean, a big rifle,” I asked him?
“There’s a buffalo in my garden! It tore the whole fence down!”
One of the things about living out here in the Texas Hill Country is that you never know what’s going to show up at your feeder, in your pasture, or, in Ron’s case, in your little garden. The hills and canyons are full of exotic species, escaped or released from various high fence operations. As I’ve mentioned before, axis deer seem almost as prolific as whitetails. There are lots of hogs (except at my place). It’s not unusual to see a herd of blackbuck bounding across unfenced pastures. And, every deer season without fail, someone shows up at the Smokehouse with an elk or a red stag that just showed up at their feeder or food plot.
But I don’t think I’d ever heard of anyone shooting a feral buffalo. Not only that, but I don’t even know of an exotics ranch anywhere within 50 miles that has bison.
So I was a little skeptical, but I had to wonder. Ron’s not an avid outdoorsman, but he’s not an utter doofus. It’s pretty hard to mistake any other critter for a buffalo. I asked if he was sure, if he’d actually seen it, and with monk-like patience, he explained that, yes he was sure it was a damned buffalo… a big one. Not only that, but it had charged him when he went for his truck, and chased him halfway down the drive!
I keep the local game warden’s cell phone number on the fridge, so I told Ron to sit tight while I made a call. A buffalo running loose is not the kind of thing that goes without notice, and if some rancher had lost his animal, he’d probably be looking for it. That’s a significant investment. I figured the warden might know if any such thing had been reported.
The warden picked up on the first ring. After telling him what Ron had told me, he let me know that he was already aware of the situation, and on the way to my area. A high fence operator up the canyon from me had brought in a small herd of bison, and they’d run crazy when he let them out of the trailer. They ran right through the eight-foot fence. The rancher and one of his hands had managed to round up the cows and calves on horseback, but the big bull was rank. It killed one of the horses, and broke the ranch hand’s leg. Word was that the rancher didn’t care who killed the damn buffalo… he just wanted it dead.
The warden told me that he was still about an hour and a half away, but if I’d rather, we could wait for him to come put the animal down. Of course I told him that wasn’t a problem, and I’d give him a call as soon as I had it done. With a caution to be careful, he told me he’d be waiting for my call.
As you can probably imagine, my head was spinning. Not only had I just been given the green light to kill a buffalo, but it was apparently a pretty bad one. I hoped it would be as easy as slipping back over to Ron’s place and whacking the beast while it grazed on the garden greenery. I’d worry later about what to do with all the meat. I told Ron to hang tight, and went to the gun safe to fetch the .325wsm.
On a whim, I thought to grab my new GoPro and strap it on. Of course it wouldn’t be much of a hunt, but it would be cool to capture it on video. I’m glad I did, too. I think it came out pretty good.
So here, I’ll let the video tell the rest of the story. I need to go find a bigger freezer.