Go Bison!

February 10, 2016

Reading Kim Severson’s piece on bison this morning reminded me of the single finest piece of meat I’ve ever tasted.

It came from my friend Sam Hurst, an environmental reporter for the Today Show, who became so enamored of the idea of free-range bison that he moved to South Dakota in 1993. His ranch did not conform to the Turner school of bison-raisers; his animals were left to roam free, were never taken to a feed lot, and they met their end not in a slaughterhouse, but on the open range.  When it was time to harvest the bison, Sam employed a sharp shooter.  One moment the bison were munching on the wild grasses; the next they were dead.

Sam brought me a bison tenderloin a few years ago, and we simply grilled it.  I’ve never tasted meat like that, and as I ate that sweet, clean-tasting meat I had an epiphany; this meat lacked the flavor of fear. Animals taken to a slaughterhouse are filled with adrenaline, and it’s a nasty taste. This meat taste pure and mineral; it was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.

So here’s a vote for bison: they live in harmony with nature, they need no barns, no antibiotics, no artificial insemination, no artifice of any kind.  They live good lives, die good deaths. Naturally raised bison are bringing the species back from the brink. 

And they are absolutely delicious.

Sam, sadly, was ahead of his time.  He founded Wild Idea Buffalo Company in 2003, but his own ranch was ultimately a victim of the draught.

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  • Mark. says:

    Mouth is watering. It’s Ash Wednesday, though, and anyway it might take a while to get good bison here in Florida (there is a big herd, probably all with cow genes in them, well north of me).

  • Robin Keuneke says:

    Another great tip; thank you, Ruth.

  • Here in Texas – out in west Texas I should say, they have free range bison hunts. Also, there is the Texas State Bison Herd. These bison are roaming on 800 acres and said to represent the last surviving Southern Plains variety – their DNA being different that other bisons. And a couple other state parks here also have bison. Big bend has bison… “don’t fence me in” seems to be their mantra.