Bison vs Motorcycle

Riding a motorcycle has its risks. While out in nature, one is exposed to the elements such as rain, sunshine, wind, and even snow.

The temperatures can fluctuate in extreme waves. On a recent trip, I rolled into Missoula, Montana with the thermometer reading 109 degrees Fahrenheit. The next morning, just ten hours later, the guage read 46 degrees; a 63-degree swing.

On the plains, the wind can blow so hard that a rider is forced to lean at a 45-degree angle just to keep rolling down the road. In the mountains, snow and hail are a tangible reality. These conditions, in part, is what makes motorcycle touring so exciting.

There IS ONE thing that will make a rider’s pulse race quicker though then any unexpected tornado or hail storm. In a word: ANIMALS. Over the years, I have encountered deer, squirrels, gophers, and a variety of other creatures that love to dart out onto the road from the side ditch. That will ALWAYS quicken your heartbeat.

A few years ago, my wife and I hit a bear. I’m still not sure I have recovered from that violent encounter. You can read all about it HERE.

2022 did not disappoint. The beast of choice for THIS particular road trip was the majestic Yellowstone National Park BISON.

Not one time but TWO.

Here is my first encounter with “the Herd.”

I survived; obviously. Only to experience an even hairier encounter with a solo Bull up the road less than 30 minutes later. THAT particular video has already been watched over 80k times.

“What were you feeling?”

In the moment, I felt petrified. Like you, I have seen the YouTube videos of Yellowstone Bison thrashing motorcycle riders. It isn’t pretty.

I was trapped.

I came up on the herd so quickly, I didn’t have time to do anything except pull to the side of the road and wait. The opposing traffic was pushing the herd toward me.

Bulls, Cows, and Calves swarmed the landscape. I didn’t know if I should keep my motorcycle running in case I needed to try to escape; or turn the bike off. There was nowhere for me to go. The Herd ranged along both sides of the road and down the center of the asphalt.

So I breathed slowly; trying to remain motionless.

My greatest fear was that a bull would charge the side of my motorcycle, thereby pinning, and likely breaking my left leg. But I was locked in for the ride.

At THIS time of the season, the Bulls are “rutting.” Translation: they are aggressive, unpredictable, and in the mood for sex. NOW is the time for breeding.

Sounds like most guys that I know.

So I grabbed my phone and rolled with it. Grateful that I did; grateful that the Good Lord kept me safe and allowed things to work themselves out without incident.

Yellowstone Ranger Bill Wengeler shared my sentiment. He was so happy I lived to tell the story of both Bison encounters, he made me a Junior Ranger. I have a sticker to show for it.

Now THAT might be the best reward ever! Thank you, Ranger Bill.

Yellowstone National Park Ranger Bill Wengeler
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