Spring Newsletter

Montana Bison News- April 2023

A newsletter from the Montana Bison Association

The President’s Corner

By the time most of you read this newsletter, you will have had the deep satisfaction of having finally seen the faintest hints of spring appearing.  That tinge of green grass at the base of last years dry stalks, the sound of geese flying overhead, and hopefully, a familiar and favorite bird species that signifies that spring is on the way.  In addition to all of the aforementioned harbingers, there is the one that means the most to all of us in the bison industry, rambunctious red calves!  They will be hitting the ground soon and I know that all of us look forward to a healthy crop of calves and the hope that a new generation of bison brings.

With that, I want to also emphasize the importance of a new generation of bison producers and how that provides the hope and energy that is vital to a growing market.  This June we will be meeting for our annual summer conference in Dillon.  Along with a chance to catch up and visit with familiar faces, I think it important that we also take this time to invite any new producers or people we know thinking of raising bison to attend.  That new generation brings vitality and new ideas to the industry and with it a chance for all of us to learn something new. 

So, I challenge all of you to get out there and spread the word about our upcoming meeting.  Visit with those interested and invite them to Dillon.  We are going to have a full agenda of interesting speakers and ample opportunity to share stories both old and new.  Come with questions and a sharing mindset.  The goal of each of our conferences is to share knowledge and enthusiasm about what we do. 

Now, look out that kitchen window and take in that first tinge of green, take a deep breath of the warming air and exhale.  We have another winter behind us and a good year ahead of us.  Enjoy the bouncing of those little red calves and listen to those newly arrived birds.  It’s a good time to be in bison in Montana!


2023 Summer Conference 


JUNE 16 & 17, 2023



  • 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm Toco Bar dinner at the Den Restaurant/Bar (located at 725 N Montana Street). Dinner served in meeting room on second floor.

  • 6:00 –6:15 pm – Rebecca Jones, Executive Director Dillon Chamber

  • 6:15- 6:30 pm  Welcome, Introductions & Agenda review by Chris Bechtold

  • 6:30 – 7:00 pm  Jerry Gingerich, Director Ranch Operations Turner Red Rock Ranch

  • 7:00 -8:00 pm  Ace Ward, Rocky Mountain Natural Meats/Great Range Premium Bison


  • 9:00 – NOON  Tour of Turner Red Rock Ranch (Ranch address is 2205 Red Rock Road- take 1-15 Exit 37, turn east from off ramp, travel south on frontage road 2.1 miles to ranch entrance. Ranch HQ is .5 miles from the gate across the river.

  • 12:00 -1:00 pm Presentation by Pedro Calderon Dominguez on stress free bison handling.  BBQ bison burgers will be served at Red Rock Ranch.

  • 2:00 – 3:30 pm  Tour of Beaverhead Meats (620 North Montana St) Dave McGinley

  • 4:00 – 4:30 pm  Review of 2022 by Chris Bechtold, Secretary & Treasurers reports (at The Den meeting room second floor)

  • 4:30 – 5:00 pm  No host cock tail hour at The Den
  • 5:00 – 6:00 pm   Dinner at The Den

  • 6:00 – 7:00 pm  Michael & Melinda – discussion & analysis on costs to raise bison. Questions for new producers will also be discussed.

  • 7:00 pm   Fun Auction

Are you interested in sponsoring our Summer Conference?  Please email Craig at if so.

MBA Summer Conference Ranch Tour: Red Rock Ranch


Ranch Manager: Tyler Hamilton

The Red Rock Ranch in Montana is intersected by roughly seven miles of the Red Rock River, providing excellent fishing and waterfowl habitat on the property. The river also irrigates most of the deeded property for bison grazing.

The 4,878-acre ranch has lush meadows of timothy, brome, and alfalfa grass. Wildlife present on the ranch include whitetail deer, mule deer, antelope, elk, moose, coyotes, wolves, beavers, mountain lions, muskrats, bald and golden Eagles, hawks, and occasionally black bears. Current environmental projects on the property include riparian area enhancement and willow regeneration.

Outfitting opportunities on the ranch include whitetail deer and duck and goose hunting.

For more information on outfitting opportunities, please contact:
Montana Hunting Company
Phone: (406) 585-9051

Dillon, MT Information

Location of the 2023 MBA Summer Conference

Dillon is a small, western town surrounded by snow-capped mountains. Dillon has eclectic shops, art galleries, spas/salons, hiking trails, restaurants, and saloons. Dillon is situated in a sweeping valley into which the Big Hole and Beaverhead rivers converge. Beaverhead River is a blue-ribbon trout stream that’s a favorite for expert fly fishermen. Big Hole River is also a blue-ribbon trout stream with breath-taking views through the Wise River Canyon.

The Beaverhead County Museum in Dillon is devoted to preserving our local history. The country’s best preserved ghost town, Bannack State Park, located just southwest of Dillon. A nationally registered historic landmark, Bannack was Montana’s First Territorial Capital and the site of Montana’s first major gold discovery on July 28, 1862. Over 50 buildings line the Main Street recalling Montana’s formative years.  Beaverhead County also has another type of Ghost Town, Coolidge.  An abandoned silver mine from the early 1900’s, Coolidge is located off the Pioneer Mountain Scenic Byway in the Beaverhead-Deer Lodge National Forest.  Use Dillon as your basecamp, while you explore!

Area points of Interest:

  • Bannack State Park is the country’s best-preserved Ghost Town and it is 20 mins SW of Dillon off of MT Hwy 278.  They are hope until 9pm in the summer.
  • The Pioneer Mountain Scenic Byway is a beautiful drive and there you will find Crystal Park, where folks can dig for crystals and Coolidge Ghost Town, which is in ruins, but still very cool to see.
  • Charcoal Kilns – Glendale MT ghost town, with kilns 6 miles away.  Take the Melrose Exit off I-15 and go west.
  • Jackson Hot Springs in Jackson, MT.  Soak, have dinner and stay!

View this Visitor’s Brochure on Dillon for more information-

View Brochure

MBA Featured Member 

Ace Ward Rocky Mountain Natural Meats Chief Operating Officer
Ace Ward, Chief Operating Officer, Rocky Mountain Natural Meats

Ace Ward, Rocky Mountain Natural Meats

Ace was raised on a bison ranch in Southern Colorado before his family moved to the Denver area. There he went on to graduate from Colorado State University with a BS in business management. After graduating in 2001 and working for various construction companies as well as owning his own, Ace found his way back into the bison business with Rocky Mountain Natural Meats. He helped design and operate our Brush Meat Processing facility for 8 years before being appointed COO of Rocky Mountain Natural Meats in 2018.

MBA Member Statistics for 2022-2023


  • 49 Members total, including
  • 22 Lifetime Members


  • 45 Members total, including
  • 18 Lifetime Members

News from the National Bison Association        

Westminster, CO (March 17, 2023) — The National Bison Association (NBA) is encouraging members of the U.S. Senate and House Agriculture Committees to include farm bill policies that will foster continued growth in the bison business. See the NBA’s Farm Bill priorities here

As the Agriculture Committees progress on the development of the 2023 Farm Bill, the National Bison Association this week provided each member of the committee with a summary of top priority issues for the bison business under the new long-term legislation.  

The bison industry priorities include provisions regarding disaster assistance, trade, rural development, beginning farmer assistance, and truth-in-labeling. The organization also requested that agricultural research priorities recognize the importance of protecting the health of the nation’s bison herds.  

In a message accompanying the Bison Association’s priorities, Executive Director Jim Matheson wrote, “Overall we simply want to ensure that bison is specifically included under the definition of livestock in terms of eligibility for all USDA loan, disaster, insurance, and other programs. Bison producers are generally included in farm bill programming, but being such a small sector of American agriculture, it always helps to explicitly list bison producers as being eligible.” 

Matheson also urged congressional leaders to include provisions that would encourage the elimination of trade barriers that place bison at a disadvantage to beef in the international marketplace. In the area of meat processing, the bison industry urged that loan and grant programs be expanded to encourage workforce development, infrastructure expansion, and reciprocity in state and federal inspection services, particularly in small facilities. 

Learn more about the National Bison Association and their work at www.bisoncentral.com

News from the MSU News Service

Montana State University and MT DNRC to Host 406 Grazing Academy

April 21, 2023

BOZEMAN – Registration is open now through May 15 for the three-day 406 Grazing Academy workshop to be held June 6-8 in southwestern Montana. Montana State University and the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation will host the workshop, which is aimed at ranchers seeking to hone their grazing management skills and learn new strategies. Classroom activities will take place at the Forge Hotel in Anaconda, with field activities held on working ranches in Deer Lodge Valley.

Workshop participants will gain practical knowledge designed to help them make strategic decisions for their ranches. MSU educators, Montana ranchers and other range managers will lead the workshop, sharing expertise on optimum stocking rates, diverse grazing strategies, range monitoring, extending the grazing season, livestock-wildlife relations, coping with drought, wildfire and poisonous plants, and more. 

Participants are encouraged to bring a laptop to practice navigating online tools such as the USDA Web Soil Survey. Participants may also bring a map of their ranch for ranch-specific questions and discussion.

Registration is $200 per person and covers educational materials, a range monitoring kit, lunches and evening meals, and an optional follow-up ranch visit from an instructor later in the year.

Participants are responsible for their own travel and lodging. A block of rooms at the Forge Hotel is available at a reduced rate using block code “406 Grazing.” Registration and the room block close May 15, and spaces are limited.

To register, go to opp.mt.gov/doa/opp/DNRRangelandResourceProgram/cart. For more information, contact Stacy Barta at  or 406-594-8481; Jeff Mosley at  or 406-994-5601; or Rachel Frost at  or 406-994-3724.

The annual 406 Grazing Academy is a collaboration between the MSU Extension Range Management Program, the Rangeland Resources Program in the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation and the Dan Scott Ranch Management Program in the Department of Animal and Range Sciences in MSU’s College of Agriculture. Montana Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative is the academy sponsor.

MSU News Service

Bison Kabob Rhoda Friesen

Bison Recipe

From Rhoda Friesen,
Independent Food Consultant
Westminster, CO 

National Bison Association
View/Download/Print the recipe here


Serves 4 


1 pound Bison Sirloin
2 medium zucchini or yellow squash
1 large red bell pepper
1 large onion, quartered
8 mushrooms
8 cherry tomatoes


1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup dry white wine
2 cloves garlic, minced


Cut Bison Sirloin into 1 112 inch cubes and place in a glass bowl. Combine marinade ingredients and pour over cubed Bison. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and marinate refrigerated for 8-24 hours. Or, place cubed Bison and marinade in a zippered plastic bag to marinate. Cut squash and red bell pepper into 1/2 inch slices. Alternate meat, squash, pepper, onion and mushrooms on each of 8 skewers, ending each skewer with a cherry tomato. Grill covered 4-6 inches above medium hot coals for 8-10 minutes, turning occasionally and brushing with the remaining marinade mixture. Serve on a bed of rice.


Per serving of marinated meat: 273 calories; 15.7 g fat; 70 mg choles­terol; 546 mg sodium

Do you have a favorite bison recipe to share?  Please send it to and we’ll share it with the members!  

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