Montana Bison News- November 2023

A newsletter from the Montana Bison Association

The President’s Corner

I’m not sure about all of you, but I thought it was just June a week or two ago! How time has flown by this year. Maybe it’s the warmer weather, or it could just be that we are all busy and burning the candle on both ends. It is indicative of the business we are in to keep pushing and get all we can out of the days we are given. That said, the days are beginning to get short and it won’t be long and it will be Winter Conference time again. I for one, am looking forward to getting together with Members once again and continuing our new trend of having our winter conference at a hot spring! This coming January’s conference will be at the Lolo Hot Springs and will give all of us a chance to relax and mingle and share information about what we’ve been up to this past year.

I am sure that all of you are either working your animals or planning to do so very soon. The market has improved some from last year, but as we all know, it can always be a little better. I encourage all of you to continue to use our website to network and help in marketing any of your animals if you have some to move. It’s a great resource for all of us and a perfect place to let folks know what you have and showcase your stock. But, before you get too busy in the corrals, I encourage you once again to take the time and pre-register for the Winter Conference in Lolo this coming January 5th and 6th . We have a full agenda of informative speakers that are happy to share their expertise with us.
And please, if you know any new producers invite them to become a part of the community. We were all new to this at one time and getting the opportunity to pay back and share the knowledge we have earned is a pleasure that we should all indulge in. So, get those animals finished up in the corrals and get plans made to go to Lolo! I look forward to seeing you there!

– Chris Bechtold, MBA President 

2024 Winter Conference 

We are looking forward to hosting our annual winter conference January 5th and 6th, 2024 in Lolo, MT.  

Register to attend the conference here.  

About Lolo, MT:

Lolo is a census-designated place (CDP) in Missoula CountyMontana, United States. It is part of the Missoula Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 4,399 at the 2020 census, an increase from its population of 3,892 in 2010. It is home to Travelers’ Rest State Park, a site where Lewis and Clark camped in 1805 and again in 1806.


The Traveler’s Rest site, in Lolo, is one of the few sites in the nation with physical confirmation of the visit of Lewis and Clark.[3]

There are several versions of the origin of the town name. One is a French pronunciation of the name Lawrence Rence, a fur trapper in the area.[4][5] Another is the French name for Meriwether Lewis, “Le Louis”.[6] Or it could be based on either a Chinook word or a Nez Perce word.[6] In addition to the town, a national forest, creek, mountain peak, mountain pass, hot springs, and historic trail are all named Lolo.[4]

The 2017 Lolo Peak Fire burned thousands of acres near the town of Lolo, prompting evacuations and closure of U.S. Route 12.[7]


The town is at the eastern end of the Lolo Trail. It also sits at the confluence of Lolo Creek and the Bitterroot River. The Bitterroot Mountains are to the northwest.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 9.7 square miles (25 km2), of which 9.5 square miles (25 km2) is land and 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2) (2.16 percent) is water.

Bison Chili Cook Off at the Winter Conference

Submit your favorite chili for our bison chili cookoff! This will be held following dinner on Friday night at the Lolo Lodge in the conference room. Classes for the event will be for the spiciest, best all around and most unique. Awards will be given for the winners. Judging will be done by members and guests in attendance.

Fun Auction Items

Please bring your items to the winter conference to be auctioned off during our fun auction!

NBA Leadership Training 

Board member Melinda Anakalea attended the NBA leadership meeting at Custer State Park. Following is a summary of what she experienced at the meeting.

I was delighted to be chosen to attend the NBA leadership training for state and regional leaders! It was an inspirational and motivational event at Custer State Park in SD. In addition to the training time, we got to see the herd handling facilities and attend the Custer State Park Bison Auction. Prices were pretty good for the buyers. Their video auction format in the auditorium at the visitor center was great! No added stress on the animals and no weather to contend with.

During the weekend I learned loads about the MBA and about many other Bison Associations. There were 11 associations represented including the NBA and the National Buffalo Museum. There were 6 associations that could not attend. In case you were wondering how we stack up with other associations, Montana’s association is in great shape. There’s always room for improvement, but sadly, there were three organizations that didn’t even have the capacity to respond to the invitation to the event. Oklahoma was represented by YouTube star Dusty Baker. (Check out his channel, Cross Timbers Bison.) The Oklahoma Bison association is just getting re-started after some years of inactivity. Northwestern Bison Association sent a representative and they are in re-start mode as well. The most active organizations are RMBA (Rocky Mtn Bison Assoc.), DTBA (Dakota Territory Buffalo Assoc.), and the Minnesota Bison Assoc. They each have over 100 members.

MBA was formed in 1999 and currently has 53 members. 21 Lifetime, 4 comp/industry members, and 28 active annual members. There are 6 members remaining in the association who were original founding members in 1999. How cool is that?

Membership numbers stay pretty constant at the MBA. On average, about three members decide not to renew each year, and we get 3 or 4 new members annually.

The MBA board is 6 members including a president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, and two directors at large. Job descriptions for the officers are found in the bylaws of the association. Board members serve 3-year terms and can serve no more than two consecutive terms.

There are three open board positions for the term starting in 2024. Two of those will be filled and voted on at the January meeting. The new board will also appoint a person to fill the term of an existing position which is becoming vacant before the end of its term. Please consider serving on the board! You do not have to be at the meeting to be elected. The base level commitment for a director at large is a 1- hour board meeting once a month. Those are conveniently held by phone conference calls. Planning the annual conferences and producing the newsletter have been the main activities for the board since I have been involved. We also discuss any issues that come up involving bison at the state or national
level. Being on the board has definitely helped me to keep up with bison related issues.

At the leadership training, we reviewed strategic planning, mission, and vision. January will be a great time for the board to review our mission and vision and do some strategic planning.

Great ideas were shared about how each organization utilizes their quarterly newsletters. One of my favorites ideas is to have each member ranch write an article describing their operations and feature a ranch or two for each newsletter. This helps us promote our ranches and get to know each other better so we can also promote each other.

You do not have to be on the board to help with the newsletter or the strategic planning sessions. Just let me know if you are interested and I’ll keep you in the loop as things progress.

( or 406-403-4501)

MBA Member Spotlight:    Ring of Horns Ranch

See this article from the Sanders County Ledger featuring MBA Member Terye Gaustad and the Ring of Horns Ranch.  Read full article here.

MBA Membership Updates


New Board Members Needed

Chris Bechtold & Craig Denney’s terms as board members are expiring the end of this year and we need two (2) new members to replace them. Director positions are for a three-year term. Please let any board member know of your interest. Selection of board members will be made by the membership at the winter meeting.  Per Section 6.2 of our bylaws (qualifications for Office), Candidates for officers or directors must be active or lifetime members in good standing with the Association and must have attended at least one (1) prior meeting. Only one person from each family, ranch or organization may be considered for office.

In addition we need someone to finish the term of Tobin Arnold position on the board.  Tobin has advised the board that regretfully he is not going to be able to finish his last year (2024) as a Director.

If you would be interested, please contact any board member. The term would begin January 1, 2024. The board will approve his replacement.

Congress is writing the 2023 Farm Bill right now.

They need to hear from you!

Continued funding for vital Malignant Catarrhal Fever (MCF) vaccine research and vaccine development, which is nearing completion, is a leading issue for bison herd health. As Congress finalizes the next Farm Bill, let’s make sure it includes dedicated funding to make an MCF vaccine a reality and put this terminal bison disease behind us. To do that, we need your help and encourage you to contact your representatives and lobby them to include this crucial funding in the next U.S. Farm Bill. Here’s how you can help:

Our Request/Recommendation: Appropriate $2 million in Title VII of the 2023 Farm Bill to develop, manufacture, promote, and distribute an MCF bison vaccine, to be overseen by USDA ARS and the National Bison Association.

By phone:

Step 1: Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and request your Senator or House representative.

Step 2: Leave a message for your Senators and Representative like this:

“Hi, my name is ____ and I’m a constituent and a ____ [farmer, rancher, concerned citizen, etc.]. As your constituent, I’m concerned about MCF’s deadly impact on bison. Will you support bison ranchers and healthy herds by supporting the inclusion of dedicated funding in the next Farm Bill to combat this terminal disease? Thank you!”

By email:

Step 1: Find your representative’s contact information here.

Step 2: Copy and paste the letter text for the House or Senate below, personalize it, and send it along.

House Letter PDF Link
Senate Letter PDF Link

Want to learn more about this issue?

Malignant Catarrhal Fever Vaccine Funding Request – July 2023

Upcoming Bison Auctions


View more information via this link: 12/4 BROWNOTTER BUFFALO AUCTION

MONDAY-DECEMBER 4, 2023 10:00 AM MST / 11:00 AM CST
LIVE PUBLIC AUCTION, with online simulcast bidding available at

Buffalo located in the heart of buffalo country, near Bullhead, SD (from McLaughlin SD, 10.5 miles south on Hwy 63, 17.5 miles west on BIA 4, and 8.5 miles north to the ranch).

Selling their entire 2023 Buffalo Calf crop–over 420 prime head including 200+- Bull Calves (heavy and medium weight lots) and 200+- Heifer Calves (heavy and medium weight lots). Also selling 20+- Yearling Bulls.


Mexian Bison Bake

Featured Recipe:

Mexican Bison Bake with Cilantro-Lime Cream 


By The Bison Council, recipe on AllRecipes.Com here


  • 6 ounces dried penne pasta

  • 1 pound ground bison

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained

  • ¾ cup salsa

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

  • ½ cup crushed tortilla chips (Optional)

  • ½ cup shredded Cheddar cheese

  • 1 tablespoon sliced green onion

Cilantro-Lime Cream:

  •  cup sour cream

  • 3 tablespoons sliced green onions

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

  • ½ teaspoon finely shredded lime zest



  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

  2. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Cover and keep warm.

  3. Meanwhile, cook ground bison and garlic over medium heat in a large skillet until meat is brown. Drain off fat.

  4. Stir cooked pasta into cooked, drained ground bison in the skillet. Stir in beans, undrained tomatoes, salsa, oregano, cumin, and chili powder.

  5. Transfer mixture to an ungreased 2-quart baking dish or casserole. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle with tortilla chips and cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 5 more minutes or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with the 1 tablespoon green onion and serve with Cilantro-Lime Cream.

  6. Cilantro-Lime Cream: Combine sour cream, 3 tablespoons green onions, cilantro, and lime zest in a small bowl. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

Note: Recipe developed and tested by the Better Homes and Gardens Test Kitchen using High Plains Bison products.

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

Our newsletter is now produced by Lorelyn Mayr with Media Works. As you know, she already handles all of our web site work.
Please welcome Lorelyn and should you have any suggestions for our the newsletter or our web site, she can be reached at .