Montana Bison News- August 2023
A newsletter from the Montana Bison Association
The President’s Corner
Once again, here it is time for our Quarterly newsletter Sometimes as I sit down to write these letters, I wonder what I have to say that may be of importance to any of you. I know all of us are busy and we are living in our own world of issues that arise with ranching. Outside of the fences that we all maintain is a big Old World with a lot going on in it. Just this summer there has been so much in the news that can be a little depressing and a little hard to digest and sometimes its best to just not think about it. But, we still need to take into account how the big things around us affect all of us in little ways Take for example bison. It seems That bison have a way of continually making the news one way or the other. Earlier this summer there was a lot of video and news clips of bison making headlines at national parks throughout the country. As all of us well know, during the rut it’s probably best to not try to pet the bison! This is just something that all of us take for granted and know from experience and common sense. It actually may be something that we never even think about. But it’s got me thinking. What else do we as producers take for granted that maybe very few other people know much about? And with that thought, what can we do as producers to enlighten the general public to what we do? It’s a question that all of us probably ask ourselves often and one that we should probably put more time into. So, as we hear people talk about the latest news clips of bison on the prowl and tossing tourists, maybe we should take that opportunity to share our knowledge with those around us. Let them know about bison, their breeding habits, behavior, and the benefits of raising this majestic animal. It’s so easy to sometimes toss off a flippant remark, but, a little time and some careful consideration and we might just educate somebody and make them look at our animal a little differently. And that little bit of time and effort could be the start of something bigger. So, as we are all out and about this late summer trying to keep cool and wishing for rain. Let’s think about the bigger picture and what we can do to pass on our knowledge as much as possible. On one quick side note, I have set aside some time to go to the September Montana Department of livestock board meeting to discuss per capita fees one more time. If anyone would like to join, or be involved, please let me know. The board meeting is on September 21st. here’s the cool evenings and sunny days and fall just around the corner. Cheers everyone.
– Chris Bechtold, MBA President
HIGH LITES OF THE SUMMER CONFERENCE – DILLON, MT
JUNE 16 & 17, 2023
The conference began at the Den Restaurant on Friday night, June 16th. The night began with a presentation by Rebecca Jones, Executive Director of the Dillon Chamber of Commerce. She welcomed the MBA to Dillon and provided a brief history of the area. Chris Bechtold followed with his own welcoming and a review of the conference agenda. Jeremy Gingerich, Director Ranch Operations and Tyler Hamilton, Red Rock Ranch Manager gave presentations of their ranch, including projects they are working on, and what the group should see on the next day’s tour.
David Shimota with Grain Millers from Eden Prairie, MN (a new sponsor for the conference) informed the group on their products and services. They have been a sponsor at the NBA’s winter conference for a number of years and are now offering their products and services in Montana.
The main presentation of the night was made by Ace Ward with Rocky Mountain Natural Meats/Great Range Premium Bison. His presentation included footage of their processing facility in Colorado. Any members who have animals they would like to sell, should contact him (800-327-2706).
Saturday morning began with a tour of Turner’s Red Rock Ranch. A number of very informative presentations and discussions concerning herd health and grass management, were provided by ranch personnel. At this ranch they get young females from at least one other Turner ranch that will be raised and sold as meat animals. Following this, we had a lunch of bison burgers cooked by Chris Bechtold & Mike Botha. Thanks to Big Sky Bison for the special rate for the bison burgers.
Following lunch, Pedro Calderon Dominguez educated the group on stress-free bison handling. His presentation created a number of good discussions and questions on this important topic.
We then toured Beaverhead Meats (a local meat processing facility) and learned about their plans for selling their own line of jerky and similar products. Based on samples they provided, they should be successful with this new project.
Following this we returned to the Den Restaurant for a no-host cocktail hour, which turned into a good question and answer period for everyone. We then heard from Michael Botha and Melinda Anakalea on their cost analysis of raising bison.
Following a great dinner, we had a successful fun auction that raised over $850.00. Thanks to everyone who donated and purchased items from this auction. As always, the auction provided good entertainment for everyone and was a great way to conclude the conference.
Bison Economics Holding Strong
From Ag Information Network
National Bison Association Executive Director, Jim Matheson says that currently, wholesale prices are up and holding steady.
“One exciting thing that’s on my desk now are our current prices for bison at the wholesale level. Just last month, according to USDA, we topped $4, a pound hanging weight on our young bulls, that’s essentially our prime animals. So we have not hit $4 a pound in about three and a half years. That was very welcome news to our producers out there. And eventually, the supply of bison is very finite, and demand is up and our supply is tightening accordingly. And that causes our prices go up for quality animals, which keeps our producers happy. So that is a trend that’s been ongoing for some time. We have increased our processing capacity for bison in the last couple of years with a couple of significant plant expansion on the larger end of the scale. So year to date, we’re actually seeing processing up about 8% over last year at this time again, according to that same USDA AMS report.”
Matheson explains that most of the bison that is raised in the United States is raised in the mountainous west area, as well as the northern part of the country. Those regions have not experienced as much drought which has led to bison herd expansion in those areas.
New Montana State Veterinarian
In early July, Marty Zaluski resigned his position as the MT State Veterinarian. As you may recall, Marty has made a number of presentations to our membership normally at our winter conferences. He will be missed, as he was always very positive towards the bison industry in our state.
Our new Montana State Veterinarian is Dr. Tahnee Szymanski. She has been with the MT DOL and can be reached at (406) 444-2976. Hopefully she will be able to join us at future conferences to discuss bison related issues.
Our Experience with Harvest Hosts
by Terye Gaustad
We signed up with Harvest Hosts in February to accept guests in April. This is a company that RVers sign up for a membership with and it gives them access to 4000+ unique locations to stay a single night, (which a bison ranch is about as unique as it gets!) The requirement with Harvest Hosts is that the guests should spend at least $30.00 to support your local business. You do need to have semi level grounds for RVs to park and don’t need to have electric or water accessible, it’s dry RVing and they will usually use a generator.
We thought it would be a great way to introduce people to bison by giving a tour during our feeding times and then sell products such as merchandise or meat. I have 2 spaces but can expand as needed, a couple of days I had 3 RVers at one time. We have met so many wonderful people, some from as far away as Israel (it was their first time to the states and touring the west coast, we were their very first HH stop on their way to Glacier). We’ve also had some guests from as far Northeast as Quebec and North from Alberta and as far south as Florida and many guests in between the states. We have had a few repeat customers already, they will text and ask if they can swing by to get some more bison meat to take home with them. I’ve had several guests wanting us to ship bison meat, unfortunately we are not there yet. I usually text the guest in the morning to get an ETA and let them know of the bison tour time so they can plan accordingly. We have received excellent reviews from the guests, they absolutely love the bison tour and most have bought the ground bison which I think is a great start for the first timers trying bison meat- I usually suggest bison burgers. The guest will text me pictures of what they made and rave about how great it taste. So far we have over 70+ bookings from April-September. In May we had over 30 bookings with an average spent $70.00 with very limited merchandise, we ran out of t-shirts the first month.
Signing up with Harvest Hosts is extremely easy and their website is very easy to navigate. Jared built the profile page and added pictures. The guest traveling request a stay and I will receive a text that I can approve or decline and simultaneously will also receive an email for an approval. You only need to approve or decline on one platform. You can also block dates as needed. Over all, we really have enjoyed meeting the guest and introducing them to the bison.
Below are a few pictures and guest reviews of their experience staying at Ring of Horns Bison Ranch through Harvest Hosts.
MBA Member Spotlight: Crazy Woman Bison Ranch
Bison have been good to us. We recall the SNL famous catchphrase of Garret Morris as Chico Escuela: “baizabol be berry, berry good to me.”
We purchased 50 calves in 1993,half from Blue Mountain Bison (Paul Jonjac) and half from Bell Tower Bison (Lee Lewis). Today our foundational herd encompasses over a hundred thirty animals. They are free-ranging, grass-fed bison raised from birth on native hard grass prairie and breathe their last in the aroma of their home under the rubrics of our hunt program.Our animals come from premium bloodlines that manifest in the quality of their meat, hides, and horns.
Our bison prompted the THE CARTER COUNTY NATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION SERVICES to tag our ranch a USDA “Success Story.” This brought in a cavalcade of photographers, writers, dedicated agriculturalists , and hydrologists for extensive interviews and recordings. Excitement ensued when the two drone operators sought their own personal entertainment by strafing our trio of mature bulls.
Our bison lured Doug Hawes-Davis of High Plains Films to include our ranch in FACING THE STORM: STORY OF THE AMERICAN BISON and the BUFFALO HUNT (2010) a well reviewed record of a CWBR hunt by a tribal young woman in the Air National Guard. A few years later a film crew from OUTDOORS, Paris, France covered another young woman’s hunt. The female producer of the scenes called Doug “Duck” and was impressed by the ranch’s two Montana licenses: “LIBERTE” and “EGALITE.”
Our bison inspired Mary to pen HARD GRASS: LIFE ON THE CRAZY WOMAN RANCH (University of New Mexico Press). Sadly (and inexplicably!) never reviewed in BISON WORLD.
Our bison consistently have obtained higher prices for their calves and mature animals than obtained by the typical producers of cattle.
Our bison’s ecological impact on our wildlife habitat enhanced our wild game’s health and numbers, thereby increasing our supplementary hunt income from elk, deer, antelope, and game birds.
Our bison have imprinted their religious spirit upon our lives akin to the sighting of a cathedral on an expansive lieu de nature.
To be sure “Bizon have been berry, berry good to us!”
[Doug suffered a stroke on June 10th, 2023, was sent by ambulance to St. Vincent Hospital in Billings, experienced a successful Carotid Endarterectomy, and is now back at the beautiful Chalk Buttes. Mary and Doug’s ranch is FOR SALE. Members can reach Doug or Mary Stange at .]
Images from the Crazy Woman Bison Ranch
(click any image to see full-size)
MBA Membership Updates
- Troy Nielson – Elko, MN
- Ken Treadwell – Hamilton, MT
- Edward Callaghan – Missoula, MT
MBA BOARD OFFICERS
& CONTACT INFORMATION
Upcoming Bison Events
Save the Date!
- 9/13/2023 – Jack Auction Group Video Auction – Online
- 9/23/2023 – RMBA Fall Ranch Tour – CO
- 9/29/2023 – Eastern Bison Association Fall Conference – NY
- 9/30/2023 – NBA Regenerative Ranching Field Day – Baldwin, WI
- 10/3/2023 – Pohl Bison Complete Dispersal & Retirement Auction – Webcast
- 10/7/2023 – NBA Regional Conference – Terra Alta, WV
- 10/13/2023 – Jack Auction Group Video Auction – Online
- 10/27/2024 – Wisconsin Bison Producer’s Association Fall Conference – WI
- 11/1/2023 – Maxwell Wildlife Refuge Bison Auction – KS
- 11/04/2023 – National Bison Day – United States
- 11/04/2023 – Custer State Park Annual Bison Auction – SD
- 11/8/2023 – Antelope Island State Park Production Auction – Webcast
- 11/10/2023 – Illinois Indiana Bison Association Fall Conference – IN
- 11/10/2023 – Jack Auction Group Video Auction – Online
- 11/24/2023 – MnBA Bison Fundamentals Class – MN
- 11/25/2023 – MnBA Legends of the Fall Show and Sale – MN
- 12/02/2023 – Kansas Buffalo Association Annual Auction – KS
- 12/02/2023 – Western Bison Association Annual Auction – UT
- 12/04/2023 – Brownotter Buffalo Ranch Production Auction – SD
- 12/05/2023 – Jerry Farlee Buffalo Auction – SD
- 12/7/2023 – Jack Auction Group Video Auction – Online
- 12/7/2023 – Missouri Bison Assn. Annual Fall Auction – Macon, MO
- 12/16/2023 – Oklahoma Bison Association Sale – Oklahoma City, OK
- 1/1/2024 – Prairie Legends Bison Auction – Webcast
- 1/17/2024 – NBA Winter Conference – Westminster, CO
- 1/20/2024 – NBA Gold Trophy Show and Sale – Denver, CO
- 2/1/2024 – Dakota Territory Buffalo Assn. Stack the Deck Show and Sale – SD
- 2/4/2024 – Jumpoff Buffalo Ranch Breeding Bull & Female Auction – SD
- 2/12/2024 – Texas Bison Association Bison Auction – Webcast
Please visit https://bisoncentral.com/calendar/ for details and more up-to-date events.
Featured Bison Recipe from High Plains Bison
Pure Comfort Bison Meatloaf
High Plains Bison
- 2 lb pure lean, ground bison (fresh or fully thawed)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 8 oz fresh mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 eggs
- 1 small can tomato paste
- 1/4 cup smoky rich BBQ sauce
- 1 tsp dried summer savory
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp dried basil
- Sea salt and coarse ground pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350˚F.
- In a heavy skillet, preheated over medium high heat, add olive oil and onions. Sauté until golden brown, then add garlic and mushrooms, and continue cooking until all of the liquid has evaporated, and the mushrooms are brown.
- In a large bowl, mix together fresh bison (uncooked), milk, breadcrumbs, eggs, tomato paste, BBQ sauce, herbs, and the mushroom mixture. Season with salt and pepper.
- Put mixture into a lightly sprayed loaf pan, and press down firmly.
- Bake until internal temperature of 160˚F is reached (about an hour).
- Let stand in the loaf pan for 5 minutes to let the juices settle.
- Place plate on top of loaf pan, invert to remove, and place meatloaf on serving platter.
View this recipe and more at the High Plains Bison Website.
Workshop: “Bridging the Gap Between Ranching, Conservation and Carbon”
in Livingston, Montana on September 12 & 13th. hosted by Kateri Carbon
Kateri believes that the fastest way to carbon sequestration is precision grazing livestock. We use technology to help us better track the grazing maps and improve practices over time. We use Vence virtual fencing as well as mOOvement GPS ear tags.
This is a free event open to ranchers in Montana. It is not a sales conference but rather our initiative to meant to help educate producers on better understanding the carbon markets and how they can help you.
We are particularly interested in bison ranchers as we believe their contribution to soil health is understated and Kateri can be a data-driven window into their grazing.
If you would like more information, please contact Melissa Brando 307-275-2732 and she will send you an invite.
Thank you to our Sponsors!