Monday, November 18, 2013
9:55 AM | Posted by Jon Ballard | Edit Post
Named "Lord of the Prairie," the American bison once roamed the North America in numbers estimated between 30 million and 75 million. By the end of the 19th century, American bison were hunted to the brink of extinction with only an estimated 750 head remaining in North America by 1890. The American bison as a species were largely saved by the separate efforts of conservationist James "Scotty" Philip of South Dakota and two Montana ranchers, Charles Allard Sr. and Michel Pablo. The progeny of their small herds, along with the Yellowstone National Park wild bison herd, form the majority of the antecedents of today's American bison population which, according to the National Bison Association, stands at approximately 500,000-head.
Modern Bison Hunting
Today, bison hunting in America has fallen under strict regulatory auspices, but there are many opportunities for avid hunters to participate in these big game challenges. Bison hunting generally falls into two categories: hunts on public lands of free roaming herds and hunts of restricted herds on private lands.
Public Land Hunts
There are several states that issue hunting licenses every year for open bison hunting on public lands, including but not limited to the following states: Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Alaska and Utah. The process for obtaining a bison hunting license varies by state but is in all instances very competitive. In 2012, there were nearly 8,000 applicants in Montana with only 34 licenses issued. Last year, more than 15,000 hunters applied for licenses in Alaska with only 100 awarded.
Private hunts operated by professional ranches offer an advantage for many hunters seeking big game. With the sparsity of bison hunting licenses, as well as the limited number of wild bison herds, private ranches offer an alternative to enthusiasts who are unable to obtain a license or travel to regions where public hunting is permitted. The type of hunts range from smaller hunting grounds such as that of the South Dakota Mickelson Ranch which organizes hunts of choice bulls within 1 to 3 thousand acre enclosed grounds, to larger fair chase hunts like the Thousand Hills Bison Ranch in Southern Colorado which organizes hunts more than 62,000 acres of open prairie.
California is another state where bison hunting has become popular in recent years in both public and private venues. Across the state, the government works with third parties to offer a safety course for all prospective courses. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife requires a California hunting safety course before a hunting license can be issued.
Safety & Preparedness in Big Game Hunting
An integral part of safety is bringing the appropriate weapon. On the frontier, single-action rifles were used to bring bison down — and they'll still do the job. A single shot .45 to .70 Browning 1885 High Wall falling block rifle will work; however, it'd be smart to bring a backup repeating rifle, or have your hunting partner carry one as insurance. An auto-loading, bolt-action rifle firing rounds of .338 caliber and up is most recommended. Another advantage to private hunts is the provision of experienced guides with backup weapons in the case of an overly-aggressive animal.
A public bison hunt is not limited as a privilege of only the most experienced. There are a wealth of third-party hunting guides who offer services and assistance to ensure a successful and memorable hunt. Muley Madness offers a superior listing of such services in California. Prospective hunters should understand these animals can weigh as much as 2,000 pounds, are known to be temperamental and can run with extreme agility at 30 to 40 mph. Many hunters may want to consider using these services before taking on a bison hunt for the first time.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
3:24 PM | Posted by Jon Ballard | Edit Post
Shortly after the Newtown shootings I sent a letter to President Obama asking him to protect my rights as a legal gun owner. Today I received the following response:
Thank you for taking the time to write. I have heard from many Americans regarding firearms policy and gun violence in our Nation, and I appreciate your perspective. From Aurora to Newtown to the streets of Chicago, we have seen the devastating effects gun violence has on our American family. I join countless others in grieving for all those whose lives have been taken too soon by gun violence.
Like the majority of Americans, I believe the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. In this country, we have a strong tradition of gun ownership that has been handed down from generation to generation. Hunting and sport shooting are part of our national heritage. Yet, even as we acknowledge that almost all gun owners in America are responsible, when we look at the devastation caused by gun violence—whether in high-profile tragedies or the daily heartbreak that plagues our cities—we must ask ourselves whether we are doing enough.
While reducing gun violence is a complicated challenge, protecting our children from harm should not be a divisive one. Most gun owners agree that we can respect the Second Amendment while keeping an irresponsible, law-breaking few from inflicting harm on a massive scale. Most also agree that if we took commonsense steps to curtail gun violence, there would be fewer atrocities like the one that occurred in Newtown. We will not be able to stop every violent act, but if there is even one thing we can do to reduce gun violence—if even one life can be saved—then we have an obligation to try.
That is why I asked Vice President Joe Biden to identify concrete steps we can take to keep our children safe, help prevent mass shootings, and reduce the broader epidemic of gun violence in this country. He met with over 200 groups representing a broad cross-section of Americans and heard their best ideas. I have put forward a specific set of proposals based off of his efforts, and in the days ahead, I intend to use whatever weight this office holds to make them a reality.
My plan gives law enforcement, schools, mental health professionals, and the public health community some of the tools they need to help reduce gun violence. These tools include strengthening the background check system, helping schools hire more resource officers and counselors and develop emergency preparedness plans, and ensuring mental health professionals know their options for reporting threats of violence. And I directed the Centers for Disease Control to study the best ways to reduce gun violence—because it is critical that we understand the science behind this public health crisis. From improving mental health services to looking more closely at a culture that too often glorifies violence, we must leave no stone unturned when working to keep Americans safe.
As important as these steps are, they are not a substitute for action from Congress. To make a real and lasting difference, members of Congress must also act. As part of my comprehensive plan, I have called on them to pass some specific proposals right away. First, it is time to require a universal background check for anyone trying to buy a gun. Second, Congress should renew the 10-round limit on magazines and reinstate and strengthen the assault weapons ban. We should get tougher on those who buy guns with the purpose of selling them to criminals, and we should impose serious punishments on anyone who helps them do this.
These are reasonable, commonsense measures that have the support of the majority of the American people. But change will not come unless the American people demand it from their lawmakers. Now is the time to do the right thing for our children, our communities, and the country we love. We owe the victims of heartbreaking national tragedies and the countless unheralded tragedies each year nothing less than our best effort—to seek consensus in order to save lives and ensure a brighter future for our children.
Thank you, again, for writing. I encourage you to visitwww.WhiteHouse.gov/
NowIsTheTime to learn more about my Administration’s approach.
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