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Road Tales: Where the Buffalo Roam

Proof — Dateline: Moab, Utah Taken at Site

He’d hunted big game for years all over the United States. Hunting was a way of life to him. But, in all those years, he’d never shot a buffalo. He’d put his name in for the lottery that gave out yearly licenses to shoot buffalo, but year after year the winning number had eluded him. As he failed, again and again, his need to add a buffalo, an American bison, to his life bag grew to obsessive proportions. Finally, he could stand it no longer. He determined that he would buy a couple of young buffalo, raise them, and then shoot them. It seemed like a plan.

When the buffalo purchase was completed the question arose about where these buffalo were to be raised. He wasn’t a rich man and the cost to two baby buffalo maxed out his credit cards. The only viable option was to raise them on his front lawn in Moab, Utah. Accordingly, the buffalo were delivered and put out to pasture, or “out to lawn” as the case may be.

Besides grass the lawn also contained, courtesy of his kids, a couple of soccer balls. Shortly after the buffalo became his lawn ornaments, he was out walking among them when one of them discovered a soccer ball and butted it over to him with its nose. Without thinking he kicked it back towards the other buffalo, who passed it to the first buffalo who butted it back to him. An hour or so of passing and kicking the soccer ball between man and buffalo ensued.

When he went out on his lawn the next morning, they were waiting for him. One seemed to be playing midlawn while the other hung back by the water trough which had become some sort of goal. The forward buffalo butted the ball towards him. Without thinking he returned the kick over the head of the forward. No good. With a speed belying its bulk, the defensive buffalo moved quickly and butted it through his legs to the porch. When it bounced off the barbecue, they seemed to do a brief victory prance. The game was afoot.

Day after day, week after week, the strange lawn ritual with the soccer ball went on and on. In truth, he had long since pulled far ahead of the buffalo in goals, but what do buffalo know about keeping score?

In time, however, the hunting season came around. He looked out of his house on the first morning and saw the buffalo waiting for him, the soccer ball in front of the forward, the defensive buffalo pacing slowly back and forth by the water trough. It came to him then that he could never shoot them. It would spoil the season — and the soccer season, in the deserts of Utah, is never really over.

On a hot afternoon soon after, he looked out his window and discovered, much to his delight and his neighbors’ shock, that the two buffalo on his lawn were indeed male and female.

Now it is two years later and he has four buffalo on his lawn. He doesn’t hunt anything anymore. Says he’s lost the taste for it. His old hunting buddies come by every so often and razz him about the buffalo.

“You started with two and couldn’t shoot them,” one said. “Now you got four, and next year you’re gonna have five. What are you going to do then?”

He went to his garage and came back with a basketball.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • David Zincavage November 30, 2020, 8:06 AM

    Good story, EXCEPT….. No hunter thinks that it would be Hunting to buy, and raise, and then shoot some game animal. That isn’t Hunting, it’s farming. I would assume the protagonist simply wanted to eat buffalo.

  • Anne November 30, 2020, 8:19 AM

    Nice Punt G–very nice !
    Good to see you getting up off the bench!!


  • Nori November 30, 2020, 10:31 AM

    Great story. Moab has a fair share of townsfolk as colorful as their spectacular surroundings.
    I’d PAY to see his buffalo basketball team.

  • James ONeil November 30, 2020, 11:13 AM

    Not a loud guffaw but I definitely chuckled at the end.

  • Sam Carlsson November 30, 2020, 5:14 PM

    God bless you, Gerard! Such joy to read your inspired offerings.
    In this vein, might i suggest “The Way I Heard it” by Mike Rowe? It’s a podcast he does. Remember his ‘Dirty Jobs’ series on TV? Well he’s morphed that into his foundation Rowe Works (or somesuch) which generates millions of dollars in scholarships for young people wanting to learn trades.
    Seems to me that you two are soul brothers.

  • MarkInKansas November 30, 2020, 7:32 PM

    The great stories are always wonderful to see again. I smiled when I first read it a few years ago. I smile again. Thank you Mr. Vanderleun.

  • Sam L. December 1, 2020, 9:36 AM

    Buffalo Soccer: That was an UPPER. Great story!

  • Jack December 1, 2020, 1:14 PM

    I have never ‘hunted’ buffalo or the American Bison as it’s known but I certainly have pined all of my life to hunt Cape Buffalo in Africa. Sadly, things never worked out for me on that one.

    But, I have seen the America Bison…buffalo….up close and I’ll tell you here and now they are huge and they will happily charge and kill you if they can. They are nasty tempered and they are quick.

    Modern hunters wag out with a ‘guide’ and shoot them with big bore cartridges, then pose beside them, sometimes wearing traditional early American Western styled garb…beaver hat, fringed jacket, knee high moccasins…the whole weird dress up thing….acting as if they’ve actually accomplished a great feat.

    I wonder if it ever occurs to these silly, dashing nimrods that the American Indian killed them regularly and by the thousands from the back of a galloping half wild mustang ponies running at break neck speeds across uneven ground, with short bows that might draw 45 – 50 pounds and with arrows that were painstakingly made, tipped with flint points.

  • Boat Guy December 3, 2020, 8:51 PM

    The Indians also used to run whole herds over cliffs.

    For four years we had “relations” with bison; my brother ran a herd of over a hundred in that time. Hay prices put paid to that.
    They are amazing animals “50 million years of successful evolution”; their only successful predator is homo sapiens.

    Yes, they will kill you. The first year my brother ran them two ranchers in our state were killed by their own animals; yeah they were “victims” of natural selection and their own hubris.

  • Bear Claw Chris Lapp December 4, 2020, 7:59 AM

    Boat Guy knows his history. Mom was a docent at the Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center after they opened. It was my daycare center 2 or 3 days a week. Those ha ha old women kept an eye on me. Never once did I do anything destructive they let me roam free. I will never forget that.