Baxter Black: Trolling for Buffalo
Buffalo Bob took the call on his cellular phone. I caught the last of the conversation, “and if that don’t work try a shot. No . . . not a tranquilizer, a 30-30. At least you’ll be able to eat the meat.”
“Escaped buffalo pose a problem,” he said after hangin’ up. “That fellow was callin’ from West Virginia. I told him a trick that worked for me . . . trolling.”
Bob explained that a few years back he and Dave bought 12 head of buffalo from a grain farmer on the plains of Colorado. Bought’em over the phone. The price was right. They arrived in the small town of Flagler and took a motel room. Three days later they were still tryin’ to gather the twelve head.
The first day they built a trap out of panels in the 1/4 section pasture. The trap was big enough to fit the U.S.S. Eisenhower. They baited it with alfalfa and spent all afternoon tryin’ to coax, drive and trick the suspicious buffalo herd into the trap. They ignored it like fat trout in a well-fished stream.
That night they called a noted wildlife veterinarian who had buffalo experience. The vet arrived the next day armed with a tranquilizer gun and enough ammo to put Yellowstone Park to sleep for a fortnight. They drove out to the herd and re-enacted the stampede from Dances with Wolves, but hit nary a buffalo. Concerned with the expense of the tranquilizer, Bob and Dave built a buffalo blind outta tumbleweeds. They parked the vet with his trusty musket behind the tumbleweeds and chased buffalo by him for two hours. Unfortunately ‘Dr. Dead Eye’ couldn’t hit the top of his head with a chafing dish. Not one bullseye.
The third morning found Bob and Gary making excuses to the grain farmer. “Well,” he said, “do what you can. They’re yours. I’ve got to go to dad’s place and haul a dead calf to the dump.”
A light flickered somewhere in Buffalo Bob’s desperate brain. He remembered tryin’ to drag a dead buffalo calf out of a field. The herd went crazy and followed the calf through some primitive protective instinct. He actually had to get the tractor into 4th high to stay ahead and get out of the gate!
“Bring that dead calf over here. I want to try somethin’.”
The farmer complied, even though it was a Hereford cross. Bob stationed a man by the trap gate and circled the herd draggin’ the dead calf behind his pick-up. The buffalo cows went berserk and started chasin’ the calf. Bob made a couple more circles stirrin’ ‘em up and on the third pass drove straight into the trap. The herd followed like greyhounds chasin’ the mechanical rabbit!
“Wow!” I said, as the light dawned, “Trolling for buffalo. So that’s what you advised your caller from West Virginia.”
“Yeah. I don’t know if it’ll work, though,” said Bob. “His buffalo is loose in a lady’s back yard on the nice side of town.”