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  • Ian Thompson

Making Our Move

Straight line speeds as fast as a race horse, the ability to pivot on a dime from front or back legs, incredible power, and at times a high level of weariness...buffalo are not easy creatures to catch.

We had to disassemble and move our old corral in order to use the materials to build the new corral on our new land. With no corral, catching even a tiny a heard of buffalo becomes quite a challenging proposition. Our plan was a sly one, to catch our buffalo in the very same trailers that we would use to move them. A month ahead of time, we parked our trailer in the pasture and started getting the animals used to eating sweet feed inside of it.

The plan worked pretty well... at first. At one point, we had three animals in the trailer eating at the same time. Then one day, Bull got greedy. Being the true gentleman that he is, he began to ambush is ladies at the narrow door opening. Going in or out of the trailer, when he met them, he started giving them a not-so-gentle shove in the confined space. This was to frighten them so that he could get the whole bag of food to himself. Ed, our friend who has become family, was planning to come help us with the move. He brought his trailer, and our thought was that we could lure the female buffalo into it separately and shut the door on them with a rope from a distance.

At first, things went according to plan. Ian had Bull, with all of his power and bellicosity, caught in a trailer before Ed arrived on the scene. Then, our well-laid plan started to unravel. With bull in the trailer, the female buffalo got spooked. At one point, Ian nearly got a gate shut on the bull calf, but he was able to power it back open before we could latch it. After that, no enticement of food could bring the animals into a trailer.

We couldn't move bull by himself. Buffalo are herd animals, and it would have been too stressful on him to take up residence in a new place without his herd. By afternoon, it looked like we were going to have to let him go and rethink the whole idea for another week. Then Ed's uncle, Bobby, drove an hour one-way in order to bring us a heavy-duty hog trap that Ed had made. By extremely good fortune, for reasons to be described shortly, this trap had been made with a holding pen in the back. Arriving on the scene, our neighbor, Jim graciously used his artistry with a tractor to maneuver the cage into just the right spot.

We put a little bait in the front and a lot more way in the back corner of the trap. We tied a long rope to the vertically sliding door at the front of the cage, and hid behind a truck parked in our driveway. At first, the animals wanted nothing to do with the strange apparatus, but after while, Little Girl, our most precocious animal, stuck her head inside. She gobbled up the little bit food at the front, but then left. However, slowly, cautiously, she came back in to get the food at the back of the trap.

The tension was high. Ian, Ed, Bobby, and Jim, four grown men, crouched down in the driveway with the excitement of four young boys, hoping the ploy would work. Suddenly, with a jerk of his hand, Ed triggered the door. Down it slid swift and secure, trapping Little Girl inside. Soon, Ian had her situated in the back pen of the trap. She was safe and unhurt, but she resented this confinement, snorting and bellowing her displeasure. Buffalo are curious by nature, and Little Girl put on such a display that one by one, the other animals came to check on her, got caught in the trap, and were loaded into a waiting trailer. Ed and Bobby had turned what looked like a sure defeat into buffalo moving day!

Just as darkness fell, Ed and Ian headed down the road hauling two buffalo-laden trailers.

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