Thursday, October 29, 2015

Where the Buffalo Roam

(Continuing the recap of my late August/early September South Dakota trip.....)

Wait a minute.....those aren't buffalo!

Turkey Trio

Eeep...caught in the act!  I captured this turkey trio drinking from my parent's birdbath one morning.  Between the visiting deer, rabbits, and flocks of wild turkeys, their yard became quite the "Wild Kingdom."

Custer State Park entrance

In the previous post, I'd mentioned that when visiting the Black Hills of South Dakota, I always make at least one trip to Custer State Park.  Not only offering spectacular scenery, this park also boasts plentiful wildlife, including 1,500 free roaming bison.

This big guy was right beside our truck!

A couple of years ago, I'd stumbled across a small herd of the shaggy beasts.  Unprepared for photography, I managed to get off only two mediocre shots.  But this trip, determined to redeem my photo fail, I headed back in search of buffalo.  My mom and dad were more than happy for an excuse to revisit.

Buffalo everywhere!

The planets aligned big time.  Barely past the park entrance, I spotted my first buffalo.  A huge, shaggy male was walking right beside the main road.  I leaned out the window and fired away with my camera.....that is, until the big guy decided to come up right alongside our truck!  Let me tell you, those bison are way bigger in real life.  I hastily ducked inside and let him pass.

Big guys resting

Not a quarter mile up the road, we hit the buffalo jackpot.  The forest opened up into a large meadow, covered with brown, shaggy bodies.  My dad edged the truck closer and I began taking copious photos out the window (for safety's sake, don't ever get out of your car to photograph these big beasts).

Mama and her calf

The majority of the herd were either lying down or grazing.  A steady stream of vehicles with camera-toting tourists hanging out of windows didn't faze them in the least.

Buffalo yoga

I switched to my zoom lens and began capturing dozens of buffalo, up close and personal.

Rolling in the dirt

This big guy was taking a dust bath.

Checking out his neighbor

My dad wanted to check out the State Game Lodge, so we backtracked a short distance.  Whatever bison weren't in that first field were all hanging out around the lodge and Peter Norbeck Visitor Center.

Buffalo jam

It was such a large herd, the beasts created traffic jams whenever they crossed the road.  These guys have the right-of-way, so when this happens there's not much you can do but sit tight and wait for them to pass.

This herd took over the cabin area

The buffalo were camped out beside a nearby parking lot and restroom.  Some unsuspecting tourists got a big surprise as they walked toward the facilities.  I think they ended up holding it!

Just chillin'

An large field near some rental cabins was taken over by the huge herd.  I'm not sure what the cabin's guests ended up doing.  They might've been stuck inside all day.

Of course I tried to get some video footage of the big guys in action.  Sadly, they weren't all that active (well, except for an attempted romantic encounter towards the end of this clip).


After seeing our fill of buffalo (enough to last until next year!) my dad continued our drive down the park's "Wildlife Loop."  An appropriately named road, it wasn't long until we spotted a herd of antelope.

Checking out the weird lady with a camera

These guys didn't seem to mind having their pictures taken by a crazy lady with a huge lens.

Beggin' Burros

Then we came upon Custer State Park's famous "begging burros."  These wild donkeys are descendants from a herd that once hauled visitors to the top of Harney Park.  After the rides were discontinued (many years ago) the burros were released into the park.

This truck got mobbed!

Through the years tourists stopped to photograph these friendly donkeys.  People began feeding the beasts, and over time it became a park tradition.  The wild donkeys are nicknamed "begging burros" because they approach vehicles expecting food.  As you can see, the burros are quite aggressive, sticking their heads into open car windows.

Can't resist this cutie

I have fond childhood memories of driving through Custer State Park, and feeding the donkeys out the back window of my parent's station wagon.

Friendly burros

However, today my parents and I were unprepared for burro feeding, and had nothing to offer.  Once the donkeys realized this, they moseyed on to greener pastures. 

Prairie dog

Not only were the burros hungry, after a morning of wildlife sighting my parents and I were ready for a little lunch too.  So we headed towards the town of Custer to check out their newest burger joint.  En route, I made my dad stop by a prairie dog town and captured a couple more shots of these cute little rodents.

The end

A successful day of wildlife sighting in Custer State Park!

(For more information about the park, here's a link to the 2015 Custer State Park Newsletter.)

Sharing with:  Saturday's Critters


  1. Great captures! Brought back fond memories here, too. We roamed the hills, it was an unusual experience... memorable. It may not have been a state park then. There were few buffalo to be seen, I'm glad their numbers are growing.
    Wonderful post!

  2. Well Linda, I fleet I was there right with yu all.What a wonderful time you had and so many Buffalo, not to mention the other critters you came upon. Favulous photograohs. Have a great weekend.

  3. Nice tour, look out for mine from a park near me in a future blog. Your parents have the turkey waiting for Thanksgiving on their doorstep

  4. Hello Linda, the bison remind me of our trip to Yellowstone. The buffalo jams were fun. I love the images of the bison, antelope, prairie dog and the burros are just adorable. This could be a great critter post. Wonderful photos! Have a happy weekend!

  5. I enjoyed the shots of the bison. They're magnificent creatures. Looks like you were definitely "home, home on the range" ;)

  6. Fantásticas estas belas fotografias.
    Um abraço e bom fim de semana.

  7. You were certainly up close and personal with those beasts. That first photo of one coming alongside the truck gives a good idea of the size of them.

  8. Wow! That is definitely "up close and personal" with those bison. And great antelope shots. I smiled at "the end." :-)

  9. Linda, your photos are an absolutely delight and are bringing me so much joy and lots of smiles! I love donkeys, buffaloes and turkeys and that traffic jam is my favourite, because there are animals. :) The donkey are adorable! I have always loved donkeys and they seem to love me right back, because whenever I see one he/she is just as happy to see me as I am to see him. Thank you so much for sharing!

  10. Your beautiful photos brought me right back to that fabulous park! Your comment about the buffalo near the cabins reminds me of a story I heard about a park employee being stuck in his cabin due to a bison laying against his door!

    Someday I hope to live in a place where wildlife comes to visit like your parents do!

  11. Boy, did you ever see the wildlife! Great shots, all of them!

  12. Talk about up close and personal!

  13. I can tell that you found this exciting and you got some excellent photos. Bison do their own thing.

  14. What fun shots! I love these. I had a good laugh with the "Turkey Trio" and the "Just Chillin'".

  15. Not what I was expecting to see in South Dakota at all. Great wildlife. Great park. Never knew it existed. Not a familiar looking antelope either.

  16. Some great shots of the Buffalo! Quite the herd.

  17. Great photos of the Buffalo...I have a buffalo baby and Mama on my photo bucket list! What a fun day:)

  18. Wow and wow again! Your post has been a revelation. Never had I exspected to see so many buffalo in a park,These guys are definately in charge in this place, with the donkeys a close second. Smashing captures of all the critters.

  19. Good morning, Linda! I loved this post and the animals. I am stopping back to say thank you so much for linking up and sharing your post. Have a happy weekend!

  20. WOW! I have never seen so many buffalos!

  21. Hi Y'all!

    What a great series of photos! Your photos set my tail to waggin'!

    Y'all come on by,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  22. Glad I came for a visit from Eileen's link up! These creatures are amazing though I've never seen any in real life! Thanks for taking us along & sharing such fab pictures!

  23. How awesome! I've seen buffalo, but never wild turkeys.

  24. What a great post....such a lot of Bison and I thought they were an endangered species! but what do I know, I live on the other side of the world.....
    Cath from Cath@Home

  25. Oh, I just loved this post! So much fun! Loved the turkey trio and then all those wonderful bison! The donkeys were awesome as all the wildlife. I HAVE to go there! Looks like a visit has its rich rewards! Great photos and video!

  26. Oh, I so want to go here. Thanks for the great photos. LOVE the YOGA caption. LOL!

  27. Wonderful post. The Buffalo are so magnificant looking and I think Antelope are so fascinating. Loved the begging burros and that cute little prairie dog too.

  28. Fabulous photos of all the critters! I really enjoyed seeing the buffalo herd.


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