Saturday, May 21, 2011

Another white buffalo enters the world...

There are only about 50 white (non-albino) bison in the U.S. Here's the latest addition taking its very first steps...

Reminds me of the opening chapter in Middle America (except for the fence):

He’d traveled barely another 150 yards when something bright, in the thick of the herd, caught the corner of his eye. A large bull had been blocking whatever it was from his line of sight. The sun was glaring; he adjusted the brim of his hat to shade his eyes. It appeared white, or at least very light, certainly the wrong coloration for a calf, though from what he could see the size appeared about right.
A sheep maybe? He already knew that just wasn’t possible—coyotes would have taken a lost sheep long ago. He maneuvered Sierra around, kept her still, and reached for his binoculars. A dog?
Damn! The languid bull had again wandered into his line of sight. A cow also looked to be tending the thing, maybe even nuzzling it. “What the hell is that?” he asked aloud. Sierra snorted. He looked for the survey team but they were already out of view, lost in the undulating sea of knee-high grass.
“Let’s go girl. Easy … easy … walk slow, pretty girl. Walk slow.” He guided the horse cautiously into the outer fringe of the herd.
Though as a group the herd was slowly making its way southward, as individuals the animals were mostly grazing, standing in place for minutes at a time. Yearlings were the most active, nipping each other on the hind legs, running around, playing tag; some frisky young bulls were skirmishing, armed with horns still too short to do any damage. Cows were keeping a close eye on their calves, trying to squeeze in as much quality grazing time as possible in between their offspring’s unrelenting nursing demands. The grass was thick with flies.
Running Wolf slowly threaded his way to the edge of the herd, where the animals were sparsely collected, most standing hundreds of feet apart. This was dangerous, even foolhardy, and he knew it; he kept a sharp eye to his right flank, where he would turn his horse and bolt if any of the animals took offense at his presence. He halted the horse every 30 feet or so, both to temper his presence and to see if his view had improved any.
The bull was still blocking the frontal view, the cow the back. The whiteness was sitting in a heap in a crushed flat of grass; now he thought he could see some red, but not enough for a messy kill. He’d proceeded to a point where he just didn’t feel comfortable going any farther…he was now surrounded by more buffalo than he could safely keep an eye on. He eased Sierra back to the right, started moving ever so slowly, out and away from the herd. Then the big bull moved.
“Whoa.” He stopped his horse and reached again for his glasses.
He gasped. Really gasped. He gasped like he needed the air; like there was a big, gaping hole punched in his chest and he needed the air to fill it.
The creature, now clearly being licked and cleaned by the cow, struggled uneasily to its feet; its long, gangly legs splayed oddly trying to find a way to support its weight. Another bison calf had just entered the world.
But this calf was special. This calf could change everything. This calf was a white buffalo. A blue-eyed, white buffalo.
Running Wolf sat silently in the saddle, silently among the herd.

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