I just returned home to Washington state after fulfilling a lifelong dream. As a young boy I spent countless hours with my grandfather at our local trap club. They had a beautiful American buffalo (bison) mounted above the lodge fireplace. I remember being fascinated by the stunning animal and dreaming of the days when they roamed the country in vast numbers. Even before I hunted my 1st rabbit with my Crossman pump BB gun I dreamed of the day that I could hunt a buffalo. As years passed I never lost the desire to fulfill that dream. I have always been drawn to buffalo mounts when I have seen them in trophy rooms even when they were surrounded by animals that most would consider to be superior trophies. After just 4 short decades
I was finally able to live out the dream I have held so long. I had a hunt booked with my friend Ryan Longer of Longer Outdoors and when my hunting partner canceled I did not hesitate. I contacted Ryan and switched from a whitetail hunt for 2 to my dream hunt. I was 100% confident I had made the correct choice when another good friend decided to join the hunt but was going to drive down. He too was going to hunt buffalo, but he was after the much more rare white buffalo. This new change in events allowed us to haul 2 freezers and a generator to bring back the meat. It truly was all starting to come together.
I had read countless accounts of buffalo hunts and watched many other hunter live out my dream on TV and via the Internet. I went in to this expecting it to be a pure harvest. By most accounts the hardest part of the hunt is getting the other buffalo to leave the area so as you can recover your animal. With that in mind I was really expecting to show up, visit a few minutes and go start to "harvest" these 2 animals........that did not work out. On day 1 we arrived at the ranch in Mountain Home at 2pm (I assumed by 4 we would have a buffalo on the ground). We unloaded the truck and soon headed out to hunt. It was almost dark before we found the buffalo. We decided to let them sit and we would continue our adventure come morning. That evening we talked about everything we seen on the ranch and relaxed because soon the work would start.....I was unaware how correct that last statement would prove to be. I was up at 530am and after a little mulling around went out and watched the sunrise. Soon after we headed off to hunt. We were going to start in the area where we left the bison the night before. As we scanned the area my hunting partner spotted a giant Watusi bull. As we watched this massive animal, I knew the hunt had taken a turn. He asked if this was an animal we could take, and Ryan replied "yes sir". We came up with a plan moved into a shooting position and Dennis fired his 45 cal AIRGUN!!! It was a direct hit, Dennis reloaded and made another shot. After 3 shots from an AIRGUN (I still could not believe what that thing could do) the mighty bull succumb and we were done looking for buffalo that morning.
After a few hours of work we had a meal and headed back on the hunt. It again took much longer then I assumed to find the bulls but there they were. We had agreed that it was a far better choice all around to try and get the white buffalo 1st. Dennis creped into position and waited for the perfect shot. When the big bull moved broadside the airgun again went to work. Dennis reloaded and positioned himself for a 2nd shot. It to was right on the mark and the the stunning beast expired. Again the work began. I was boning meat as they were skinning buffalo and it was becoming very apparent why you don't see a ton of folks go on a hunt and harvest multiple bovine species
On day 3 it was my time to shine. I had a rifle with me but was really hoping to take the massive animal with my handgun. I had talked with Ryan and told him I would like to stalk up on the buffalo to between 50-90 yards. It was not until that evening when we finally found him. He was bedded down in some oak we stopped about 200 yards out. Ryan and I began our approach keeping the the trees between us and the big bull. He stood up and we quickly moved into position. With the aid of shooting sticks I held right in the "armpit" and let loose. My 500S&W roared into life and I hit just a little high missing the heart. It would have been a fatal shot, but not the instant dispatch a hunter wants for his game. The buffalo turned towards us and really looked as though it had intended to charge. We both recognized it and simultaneously moved quickly to the right where I fired a 2nd shot (it would not be until later that evening I would find out my hunting partner thought the mighty bull had charging in mind and he had readied his rifle "just in case") With the second shot in him the bull turned again and retreated, we grabbed the sticks and moved quite a distance to try and finish the bull as humanly as possible. I found my shot and fired a 3rd shot putting the bull down. As we approached (to soon I might add) I assumed the bull was beyond any sort of danger to us and would expire in seconds. We got to close, a true rookie mistake. When the bull tried to get up again I instinctively drew my gun and fired a 4th shot hitting it mark and finishing the beast. This stunning animal died in EXACTLY the position I have him in when we took photos. I have NEVER seen another animal expire like this. As Ryan took off to get the tractor it left me with my trophy, and my emotions. I immediately called my wife and was so overcome by emotions I was barely audible through the tears. Even now as I recount this story here I am a little misty. This was a true dream come true. This magnificent animal will not only feed my family but is already feeding people in Texas and will be given to many families here in Washington and I will carry these memories for the rest of my life.
I would 100% recommend that anyone looking for a great adventure contact Mr. Longer whether it is your "hunt of a lifetime" or a meat hunt and a memory Ryan will take amazing care of you and your party.
I would also add this. I am VERY aware of how blessed I am to get to do these things. I am not wealthy (far from it) but have a drive to not leave this world with regret. I can't do everything I want and I don't think these memories would be as special if I could, but I make sacrifices and plan ahead so I can do the important things that build memories. I would humbly suggest that each of us do the same. We all know someone who went their whole life talking about something they were going to do "when the time is right." To often they are called home before they ever accomplish that dream. Regardless of if it is a vacation or a hunt or a car, I don't believe anyone ever got to the Pearly Gates and told St Peter "my only regret is I did way to much cool stuff."