Quest for the Golden Buffalo

by Dan Simmons

Photo Above: Ron Cross boar

July is the month of Independence, a time to remember our heritage and freedoms. It’s also the sportsman’s time to fish, prepare for the hunting season and travel, especially for us Southern Nevadans with a chance to escape the extreme desert heat (110-115 deg).

My adventurous pal Ron Cross and I are planning for a Southern Alligator hunt. I’m looking forward to taking one with a powerful hand gun, but knowing Ron he will want to wrestle with one and slay it with a knife, Tarzan style.

We’ve traveled the world together and he has swam with the Pihrana in the Amazon successfully hunted wild boar with a long knife and proven himself on safari in the darkest Africa facing Cape Buffalo and charging Elephant

However, my favorite tale is one we shared together while on the quest for the “Golden Buffalo” on the frigid North Dakota plains. It went like this.

Quest for the Golden Buffalo

The Old Timer

I write of a “Quest” for buffalo (American Bison) because a “hunt” doesn’t quite describe the experience. As a matter of fact, the hunt is the easy part, as buffalo are found in herds and they are not difficult to find; and then the challenge begins.
This day began with a call from my friend, Ron Cross, of Shadow Mountain Feed. He has a farm in North Dakota and a neighbor who has a buffalo ranch with thousands of acres of grassland and wooded cover. He asked, “Would I like to go on a buffalo hunt?” “Yes!” was my immediate response and the planning began. This would be more than a hunt however, as it would take us north and east through Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota, and to our destination in North Dakota. On the return, following a short detour in nearby Minnesota, we would return by way of Colorado and Utah. We planned to be away for ten days – in search of the mythical Golden Buffalo – thus the “Quest.”

The first night found us only as far as our familiar Holiday Inn Lodge in Cedar City, Utah. It was a fitting location as we sat around the huge fireplace and planned the next day’s travel, enjoyed a brandy to relax our souls, and enjoyed the first of our daily fine cigars.

Getting away is always the hardest part. The first day of a journey always seems to be filled with the “last minute” stuff one has to do. The second day found us in Medora, Wyoming, a fitting stop as it’s the former home and ranch of our patron buffalo guide and hunter, Teddy Roosevelt (he happened also to be a former U.S. President, as you may recall).

Well, as you might expect, herds of buffalo continue to roam this famous homestead, which is now a National Park, and it gave us a chance to observe these animals in their natural setting. We spent the day planning and practicing our stalking techniques, while gaining inspiration for the days ahead and a proper respect for these huge, prehistoric-looking beasts. T.R. would have been proud of us and we felt a little closer to him.

Third day: Milnor, North Dakota. After a bright, but cold tour through South Dakota’s sand hills, we arrived late and thirsty. It was fortunate as our guide and the rancher were also thirsty and we found them at the same establishment we had chosen to patronize. Well, actually, Milnor has only two drinking establishments, and not wanting to show favoritism, we visited both.

Ron had more than a few friends there who were apparently also thirsty this late evening, and each was generous enough to share a beverage with us. They also shared interesting historical hunting stories of Ron’s earlier experiences. I promised him I wouldn’t include these in this story, but let’s just say his hunting abilities are legendary in that part of the country.

Late the next morning we went to observe the herd and make further preparations. We had planned an early start, but remember, it had been a long hard trip and a “late night.”
It wasn’t difficult finding the herd and a huge buff was also easy to spot. The difficult part would be to separate him and anticipate the direction he would travel. The plan took shape. We would put the herd on the move, hope that the bull would head to the periphery of the group and perhaps come over a hill where we had a camouflage blind setup. He would come toward us and put himself in a fatal situation.

Well, that was the plan and it worked, but as he came over the hill, and got closer, and closer and closer, not offering anything but a straight frontal shot. Now frontal shots are possible on big dangerous game, but with the abundance of hair on the head and neck of a buffalo, a brain shot can be risky, leading to an undesirable charge, with potentially unpleasant consequences. I waited for him to turn, and waited, and waited.

At fifty yards it was apparent he didn’t see us in our blind and wasn’t going to stop. Perhaps the blind itself looked like cover. Hadn’t thought of that! I decided we should show ourselves. Well, I figured Ron could show himself; he could attract the bull’s attention and I could get a broadside shot. This seemed like a better idea to me than to Ron, but he is a brave and true friend and we had to do something or share our cover with a 2,000 pound, surprised and excited, buffalo.

Ron stepped out to the left and the bull stopped and turned in his direction — exactly what I needed. My Marlin 1895 Guide gun, loaded with COR-BON 405 gr bullets spoke, or rather roared as the first round entered and destroyed the animal’s lungs and heart. He was dead on his feet, but with his bulk well-planted in the prairie soil, he wobbled for a few seconds and fell like a huge tree in a windstorm. Then as they say, the work began. Congratulations were shared all around, the requisite pictures taken, and time was spent in reflection of this marvelous old animal.

I’ve had a lot of experience in the North Country skinning, cleaning and quartering big moose and elk, but this giant made them look small. It was all four grown men could do to roll it over, and it wouldn’t stay in the necessary position.

After much discussion, a decision was made to surrender — a decision made easier by the 17-degree weather with a serious cold wind coming across the open plain. We called for a neighbor’s oversized farm tractor and put the carcass on a car hauler to be taken to a more comfortable location.

This takes us to my favorite part of the endeavor. I was introduced to a marvelous and hospitable group of individuals at a local Hutterite Colony. They offered to assist me with the necessary skinning and butchering in their modern well-equipped facility. Not only did they have the hoists, saws and butchering equipment, but they also had the manpower to get the job done. More correctly, they had the lady power, as it’s their custom to have the younger female members help with the meat cutting. Even more precisely, they did it while singing the most beautiful Lutheran praises, in German, that I have ever heard (except in cathedral choirs).

The four days I spent with these people and the friendly folks of Milnor made the trip, the journey, the quest what it should be. Not just the taking of an animal, not just a mid-winter vacation, but a meaningful event from which one marks time.

In Africa, they call it Safari. For those of us fortunate enough to have the experience in this land, it’s the “Quest,” the anticipation of planning; the stimulation of new places and people; the joy of finding the treasure; or the disappointment of not finding it; and the welcome journey home.

We toast to good friends, a good chase and a warm fire to come home to.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

If you have a story or a comment about this or other articles, please contact me at

Hutterite Ladies


Ron Cross’, Cross Patch Stew

Buffalo is a great alternative to beef, but because it is so low in fat it can be tough.

The wonderful ladies at a Hutterite community ground the meat to make it easier to prepare this stew.

It was a great experience to be there with people who so obviously enjoy their work and appreciate all aspects of their lives.


  • 2 lbs. ground buffalo meat
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 2 tsp. seasoned salt
  • 2 tbsp. ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 lb. button mushrooms, leave whole
  • 1 small can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme


  • Heat the olive oil in a pressure cooker;
  • mix the buffalo meat with the flour that has been seasoned with the salt and pepper;
  • brown the meat;
  • add the butter, onion, garlic, and celery;
  • cook until onions are translucent;
  • add the rest of the ingredients and cook on high pressure for 30 minutes.

Serve over cooked noodles. With green beans and warm bread, it’s a meal you can look forward to on a cold winter’s day.

“Quest for the Golden Buffalo” first appeared in the Las Vegas Review Journal’s Pahrump Valley Times