For those wanting to know how to book a buffalo hunt, we've done some research.
Booking a buffalo hunt isn't very difficult, but you need to make sure that you've got all of your ducks in a row and that the time it right.
Hunting the American buffalo (bison) is a bucket list project for many hunters. Buffalo are iconic, romantic and historic animals, and taking one fulfills many a hunter's dream.
Several states offer buffalo hunting. The tags are tightly managed, and in many cases you will be need to draw a tag in a lottery-like system. The season generally runs from October through December. For example, in Alaska approximately 16,000 hunters apply for the hunt each year, but only around 130 permits are given out.
However, on many of the larger ranches, such as Ox Ranch in Texas, you can hunt buffalo year round. This presents you with a lot more flexibility as a hunter, and can offer you with a challenge equal to that of a public land hunt and often with less hassle involved.
There are several significant considerations to bear in mind with a buffalo hunt. One of them is the cost of the adventure. Ranch hunts for trophy bulls will generally run between $5,000 and $8,000, depending on what amenities are included in the hunt, the length of the hunt and the particular ranch operation. Hunts for cows and meat bulls are less costly.
You will have costs associated with carcass and meat processing, as well as a taxidermist. Most ranches will provide field dressing and transportation of your trophy to a meat processor and taxidermist. Meat processors generally charge in the neighborhood of a $1.00 per pound, give or take. From your average buffalo of, say, 1,200 to 1,500 pounds you can expect to take home 400-700 pounds of meat.
Processing will usually take a few days, maybe three or four depending on the time of year. So figure that into the equation too.
Your first decision will be where and with what guide service or ranch you are going to hunt. Plan on spending some time on the internet and on the phone. Get references for your guide or ranch and follow up on them. Do your due diligence and you should be rewarded with a memorable hunt.
You will be required to hand over a security deposit to hold your spot on the calendar. The remainder of the fee will likely be due upon arrival.
Most outfitters will ask that you be in good shape, as you'll likely be doing a good deal of walking and hiking over prairies and through sagebrush flats. This is not easy walking, and if you're carrying gear, well, if you're not in shape it's going to be pretty rough on you.
If you'll be riding horses it is asked that you have some experience in the saddle. You don't need to be an expert horseman, but take some time before your hunt to get your butt and legs in saddle shape by doing some riding.
In either event - riding or hiking - you can plan on covering a lot of ground as you search for the animals and for a shootable bull.
You want to shoot big here too. A .30-06 will be your minimum caliber, and even bigger if you can. It is amazing how much a big buffalo can absorb. You really can't go too big with buffalo. Use high quality expandable ammunition too. Follow up shots are very common, so be confident when shooting under pressure.
Sight your rifle in at 150 yards and know where it shoots at 100 to 200 yards. You may get closer than that, but that will probably be your average shooting distance. If you're planning on bowhunting you'll really be in for a challenge when stalking to within bow range across an open prairie. Use a bow with a draw weight of at least 70 pounds and make sure your broadheads are heavy duty.
A buffalo hunt is unpredictable because the nature of the animal is temperamental and unpredictable. They could just as easily charge you and stomp you into the dirt as run away from you. And they can run at an impressive 40 mph! They're incredibly tough and resilient.
So, block out a week or so on your calendar, do your homework in finding a reliable guide or ranch, have your money saved up to cover all contingencies, practice your marksmanship with a hefty caliber or heavy bow...and bring home a trophy that you'll never forget.