The first Monday and Tuesday of October the bison range invites the public to come watch the annual bison roundup. LOTS of school children accept the invitation. When I went a few years back they still did the roundup with cowboys on horseback, but now they use Jeeps and ATVs; it’s just not the same. Supposedly it’s less stressful to the bison, and certainly safer for the cowboys. Anyway, there’s a big holding area and numerous smaller ones with gates and chutes for moving the big critters through the process of being chipped, weighed, inoculated, DNA tested, separated, or anything else that needs done. This is the time they separate out those that will be shipped to other herds or tribes.
It’s an amazing process. The chutes and catwalks are incredibly strong but you can still feel the size and power of these big animals. It can be loud with pounding hooves, slamming gates, kicked gates and wranglers yelling. Children and adults alike appreciate the privilege and rarity of watching this process. My bus load of kindergartners was lucky to be the first in a second wave of buses and we practically had the catwalk to ourselves with time to take pictures and ask questions of the many volunteers for quite a while. One of the most entertaining things to me was the lady manning the gate from the chutes back into the big holding pen – she was crocheting the whole time. When she had to open a gate she tucked her crocheting under her arm, yanked on the ropes to let a bison through, then went back to crocheting. Hilarious! I had to wonder what all those bison were talking about after their ordeal. They seemed none the worse for wear, rolling in the dust or nibbling on the fescue.
And I’m pleased to report the signets are doing well. They look to me to be full grown, still gray, but just as elegant as their parents. Just seeing them would have made it worth the trip.