So you think you know what happened to our vast herds of bisonPerhaps I read it in a book, or maybe I learned in school that the millions of bison that once roamed our North American prairies were decimated by wanton slaughter. Hide hunters were a part of it, as were those who killed them in the name of sport. Well, it’s not so, according to a recent article in Petersen’s Hunting August 2012 issue.
By: Roger Wiltz, The Daily Republic
Perhaps I read it in a book, or maybe I learned in school that the millions of bison that once roamed our North American prairies were decimated by wanton slaughter. Hide hunters were a part of it, as were those who killed them in the name of sport. Well, it’s not so, according to a recent article in Petersen’s Hunting August 2012 issue.
In his story “The Great Buffalo Lie” by Dr. Sam Fadala, the author says that because of the great numbers, it would have been impossible for legions of men with antiquated rifles to all but wipe them out. What happened? They were wiped out by disease — disease that the white men’s cattle brought to the Great Plains.
The U.S. Army passed out free ammunition for the buffalo slaughter. Gen. Philip Sheridan is quoted as saying, “Let them kill, skin and sell until the buffalo is exterminated, as it is the only way to bring lasting peace and allow civilization to advance.” Though killing all of the buffalo was the proposed plan, it wasn’t how the vast herds met their end.
Fadala’s story is well documented, and I’ll accept it as the truth. I could quote passage after passage, but I want you to read his story for yourself, and come to your own conclusion. If you can’t locate the article, send me a self-addressed stamped envelope, and I’ll send you a copy. (Box 253, Wagner, S.D. 57380)
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I am frequently asked when and where the next hunt will be. At this time I have nothing booked other than what it entails to hunt deer in South Dakota this coming fall. I do have a wish list or “bucket list,” and I also have a tentative plan. In late November or December, I want to make a cow elk hunt. Why a cow elk?
First of all, I don’t need another set of antlers. I have nothing to prove. A cow elk hunt can be had for a fraction of the cost of a bull hunt — I’m talking anywhere from a fourth to a tenth in cost. Second, I want the meat. A cow elk is as good as wild game meat gets, and I suspect the cost of beef this coming winter will be considerably more than it is right now.
Betsy and I are currently finishing up an elk I killed almost two years ago. We eat elk probably three times a week when we aren’t eating fish or eating out. There is nothing we relish more than a good beef steak, but we find the elk to be more than tolerable. How does she fix it? The list includes elk stir-fry, elk stew, elk Swiss steak, elk spaghetti, elk stroganoff, etc.
Our grandkids love grandma’s meatloaf, but they have some suspicions. “Grandma, is this real hamburger?” they ask. “Yes it is,” answers Grandma Betsy. Fortunately they haven’t asked what kind of hamburger. Like all grandparents, we have smart grandchildren. They’re going to figure this out, but when they do, I will ask them to read today’s column. When they do, I’m betting the elk will be OK.
I feel good about a third reason. I believe that the elk meat is very healthy. Unfortunately, there is a high incidence of cancer in our part of the country and we don’t know what is causing it. Our cattle and hogs are implanted with growth hormones. The same livestock are fed genetically modified grain. We spray our lawns and fields with herbicides and pesticides. We coat our streets and driveways with tar-like toxins. We spray our air to kill mosquitoes. We dump chemicals in our lakes to kill algae. We even spray rooms in the house to make them smell better.
Modern technology can tell us parts per million of foreign particles. That’s pretty good. Parts per billion? I don’t think we’re there yet, and many of the above-mentioned chemicals haven’t been around long enough for us to know of their effects.
As mentioned, we eat a lot of fish that comes from our Missouri River system. Is it healthy? On page 31 of the South Dakota 2012 Fishing Handbook, there is a section called “Fish Consumption Advisories.” It states that our South Dakota Department of Health, The Department of Environment & Natural Resources, and our state Department of Game, Fish and Parks cooperate to test fish for metals, pesticides and PCBs.
The handbook actually mentions the names of lakes and species of fish that have a mercury problem, but I’m pleased to say that none of our local lakes or rivers, including the Missouri River system, has a significant contamination problem that we know of. We South Dakotans are fortunate. In reading the Wisconsin handbook where we own a second home, I get the feeling I’d light up like a Christmas tree if I ate some of those fish.
The seafood industry is not monitored or regulated as well as the meat industry. Even though our Missouri River fish swim in waters drained from sprayed agricultural fields and pastures, our fish are as clean as fish get. I believe that my family is a step ahead of the average American family when it comes to keeping food contamination minimal. It comes with being a hunter/fisherman.
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Have you ever “discovered” something that has been under your nose for years? A Cabela’s clerk told me about Mitchell’s Precision Reloading when I asked about some obsolete brass Cabela’s didn’t carry.
When I went into Precision’s shop with a reloading die problem, I received immediate attention. They carry reloading components and tools, shooting accessories and optics, at prices more competitive than the competition. Most of their business is mail order, but they welcome walk-in customers. For me Precision is a dream store come true where I least expected to find it.
*See you next week.