The Buffalo Story
I cycled around the corner solo and immediately applied my brakes when I saw a large wood bison standing on the narrow gravel road, casually swatting flies with his tail. While waiting for my friends to catch up so we could pass this beast together, another bison emerged from the thick bush and the two started slamming their wheel barrel sized heads into each other with the violence of a mid-intersection car crash.
There were no ditches on this stretch of the Liard HWY. Where the gravel ended, the forest began.
The two fighting animals were quickly joined by the entire herd. The three of us had no idea what to do. We had ran into bison a week earlier near the Liard Hot Springs which were comfortable with cars, but easily spooked by a group of bicycle tourists.
We took a picture with 30 or 40 animals in the background and waited for about 20 minutes. A few animals took notice of us but for the most part they hung out like teenagers in front of a 7-11.
We needed to make progress and weren’t about to turn around, so we decided that we would slowly move forward in hopes of persuading the animals to let us pass.
As we were about to pedal forward we heard thunderous crashing noises from the bush. I felt the blood rush out of my face as I saw the biggest bison in my life trotting aggressively towards us.
It was like someone had kicked me in the gut. Realizing that the dominant male has ambushed us, the three of us looked at each other paralyzed with fear. The animal was now 20 meters away, his body squared towards with his tail raised, a classic warning sign from a bison.
We quickly turned 180 degrees and retreated, hoping that the bull would perceive us as non-threatening and leave us alone. We pushed our bikes about 100 meters and turned onto a side road, out of site of the herd.
We waited there for about fifteen minutes trying to get our heart rates and adrenal glands under control. The three of us peered around the corner to see entire herd of bison coming quickly towards us.
A truck had approached from the north and was now pushing the entire agitated troupe towards us. Having witnessed the power of a bison battle only a few minutes prior, my life flashed before my eyes.
We stood granite still with bated breath as most of the bison trotted right past us. The drivers of the truck stopped and could see that we were seriously rattled about the whole situation.
The bison were still surrounding us and we felt threatened enough to ask for a ride. The driver of the vehicle chuckled at us as we loaded our bikes and trailers into the box of his truck and he gave us a lift a few kilometers north, out of the eye of the threat of imminent death.
Download “The Buffalo Story” and the rest of the movie ‘Riding North’ in HD by clicking here!