Americas Wilderness


This photograph was taken at a 13,000 acre ranch in south Texas that has hundreds of wild Bison. When I arrived at the ranch in the hope of capturing a close-up picture of a Bison in the same spirit as the photographs of horses in my book Heart of the Horse, I was given some basic rules about wild Bison by the owner. He explained to me that you must never touch them or get much closer than 20 feet as they are very temperamental and unpredictable and that if you ever upset one you will never know what hit you. He told me that a Bison is faster than any horse for a quarter of a mile (not that I could outrun a horse anyway!). As we were being escorted to the main house the rancher pointed to the top of a grassy knoll and said, “There are a couple of my biggest old bulls, they go about 2,000 pounds each. You can get out and try to take a photo, but remember, move slowly and don’t do anything to upset them.” As I climbed out of the vehicle I gazed at the gorgeous animals several hundred yards away standing on a rise, watching me walking towards them. I decided I would squat down about 15 feet from a clump of sage brush and wait and see if any would walk my way. Within a few minutes one of the large bulls began moving in my direction; he stopped for a moment on the other side the sage brush from where I was standing. When he finally came around the sage and begin walking towards me I began taking his picture. My camera is a medium format noisy thing that makes a clunking sound every time you press the shutter release, but I kept taking his photo and he kept on coming! I kept shooting, wanting that special moment, then I felt it, like an electrical current that permeated my entire being…I pressed the shutter release and the bison and I were one with space and time. From what seemed to be a great distance away, I heard the rancher saying, “You should stand up now and slowly back away from him.” The great bull was no longer moving forward, he was standing quite still, just watching me. As I slowly rose to a standing position I did what came completely naturally for me, I bowed to him as he simultaneously bowed to me, and we both turned and walked calmly away from each other. I felt ecstatic knowing the photo you are now looking at was safely recorded on my film.