Sunday, July 5, 2009
An Antitode for Boredom: A Buffalo Roundup
For those of you yearning to go on a real life roundup, here's an article in the L.A. Times today about an annual buffalo roundup on Antelope Island - an island in the Great Salt Lake - that takes place from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2.
The buffalo on the island are descendants of a dozen buffalo imported in the late 19th century. Now numbering around 600, the herd are shepherded (this is where you come in) into pens for annual medical tests and vaccinations. Oh, and according to the article, some are culled from the herd and sold at auction. Whether or not they are sold for food isn't mentioned. So you PETA-members might want to sit this one out.
A good many people show up to camp on the island and then volunteer to ride the herd to the pens. The article says that last year, 150 riders rode a herd of 250 buffalo. Buffalo who are nothing like the docile cattle you see in the Western movies. These are 2000-lb onery sons-of-you-know-what. Combine them with a bunch of people who might be novice riders riding rental horses, that sounds like a pretty crazy party to me. But fun, too! Woo-hoo!
Here's a blurb from the article with the basics:
"Each year, the Utah State Parks allows volunteers to help round up more than 600 bison on Antelope Island, the largest island in the Great Salt Lake. There is no limit this year to the number of riders allowed. Registration information will be available at www.stateparks.utah.gov beginning in mid-August.
Dates: The Bison Roundup will be held Oct. 31 to Nov. 2.
Cost: $25 per person to register for the roundup; $9 for park entrance. $13 to camp overnight on Antelope Island.
Horse rental: R&G Horse & Wagon Outfitter at Fielding Garr Ranch rents horses for the Bison Roundup at $250 a day, which also includes a guide and lunch. For reservations, call (801) 726-9514 or (888) 878-8002."
I've done quit a bit of trail riding in my life, much of it with a group called the Tri-Valley Trailblazers in Northern California. (This photo is of me and the group on a High Sierra Trail Ride in 2001.) I love to trail ride, but because I'm used to faster riding, I get a little bored on longer rides. This round-up sounds like my kind of antitode for boredom.
The $250 a day for the horse sounds a little steep to me; if I had my way, I'd probably trailer in my own pony (if I had one). But then, you never know how a horse is going to react when they see and smell a strange animal for the first time.
Hmm....the article doesn't mention the location of the closest hospital...but it does sound like ambulances are at the ready. How comforting!