Bison hunting is one of the few activities that still evokes the same nostalgia as it did at the height of its popularity in the 18th – 19th centuries. Its deep roots in American culture feature the Plains Native Americans, early settlers, European explorers, and commercial fur trappers.
The massive animals flooded the West with an estimated 15 million bison roaming across the Great Plains in the 1800s. Unfortunately, the population dramatically diminished without enough regulation keeping it healthy. Since then, the United States has implemented guidelines that helped bison herds grow throughout the country.
Today, there is a healthy and growing bison population with approximately 500,000 of them in North America. Most of these bison live on private ranches as semi-domesticated animals. Part of regulating the population through private ranching involves guided bison hunting. These conservation efforts allow the population to grow back in healthy, manageable numbers. Luckily, the benefits of bison hunting go both ways.
Hunters can enjoy hunting the magnificent animal in its natural habitat while participating in eco-friendly conservation efforts. One of the most popular spots for bison hunting is the great state of Utah. Utah maintains two bison herds with private hunting ranches helping the cause, as well.
Many of these bison roam the vast landscape of West Canyon Ranch in northern Utah. These large animals stand apart from their surrounding wildlife, including others on our private ranch like turkey, deer, and trophy bulls. But don’t be deceived. A bison’s beauty is almost as alarming as its stature. Its large size and natural instincts make bison hunting one of the biggest challenges of the sport.
The bison experts at West Canyon Ranch maintain our herd for superior genetics and overall trophy size. From mid-August to December, you can stalk and hunt these trophy bulls with most aged 6-10 years old and weighing up to 2,000 pounds.
With more than 4,000 acres of hunting grounds to explore, you’re sure to find a worthy bull. Not only do we guarantee a 100% shot opportunity, we guarantee an experience like no other.
Now that you know a little bit about bison hunting let’s discuss some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the sport.
Bison Hunting Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Hunt Bison in the United States?
Bison hunting is legal in some areas of the United States, including locations where public herds require culling for conservation and private ranches. While bison hunting, otherwise known as buffalo hunting in Eastern countries, is carefully maintained, you can hunt bison in certain areas of the country like Utah.
Thanks to the excellent conservation efforts with a large part coming from American hunters’ hunting dollars, Utah and West Canyon Ranch can hunt some of the most beautiful bison herds in North America. In fact, West Canyon Ranch makes applying and obtaining bison tags in Utah easy.
When you book a private hunting excursion with our guided bison hunting experts in Utah, we will supply the tag. It is a simplified process that ensures you get a shot at a prized bison, which is especially important when the odds of a high-quality bull tag are slim.
Which states allow bison hunting?
Only a few states allow free-range bison hunting in the United States—Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, Alaska, and Montana. The tags and permits required for these hunts are almost impossible to come by. Luckily, you can also legally hunt bison on private ranches in some other states, including West Canyon Ranch in Utah.
West Canyon Ranch offers some of the best-guaranteed bison hunts available in North America and the rest of the world. With more than 4,000 acres of hunting grounds to explore, you’re sure to find a worthy bull. Not only do we guarantee a 100% shot opportunity, we guarantee an extremely unique opportunity to get up close and personal with nature. Learn more about our services, including the cost of our guaranteed bison hunts online.
Where is the best place to shoot a bison?
Shooting a bison is almost as challenging as finding one in the wild. Our Utah bison hunt guides strongly recommend that you avoid long shots when making your first attempt. Getting closer to the animal will improve your shot, increase your chances of wounding the bison, and make every follow-up shot more accurate.
When shooting a bison, you should also aim for a double-lung shot. The best way to achieve a-lung shot is by aiming slightly above and behind the bison’s front elbow. While you can hit the head or neck, it won’t prove as fatal since bison generally have thicker skulls and shorter necks. These attributes will make it hard to penetrate the skull or the spinal column.
These tips will help you achieve the most lethal shot possible without risking losing the bison in the herd when it retreats after receiving a less-than-accurate wound.
Which caliber is best for hunting bison?
You can use a few legal weapons when bison hunting, including centerfire rifles, handguns, muzzle-loading rifles, bow-and-arrows, or crossbows. However, each of these weapons must meet certain criteria. A list of all of the criteria a rifle or weapon must meet is listed below:
- Rifle or Handgun – Your rifle or handgun must fire a 200 grain or larger bullet. These bullets will retain at least 2000 foot-pounds of energy at 100 yards. For example, a .30-06 caliber rifle with a 220-grain bullet is the minimal weapon that meets these specifications.
- Black Powder Cartridge Rifles – These rifles must fire a 400-grain bullet or larger loaded with a minimum of 70-grains of black powder or equivalent. A 45-70 loaded with 55-grains of black powder or a .45-70 with a 330-grain bullet is illegal, but a .45-70 with a 400-grain bullet or a .44-90 with a 550-grain bullet meets the requirements.
- Muzzle-loading Rifles – Muzzleloaders must have a .54 caliber or larger, or at least .45 caliber with at least 300-grains. If you hunt bison with muzzleloaders, you must also use a smokeless powder rifle that meets the centerfire rifle requirements listed above.
- Bow – You can legally hunt bison using longbows, recurve bows, or compound bows. However, these bows must have a peak draw weight of 50 pounds or more. The accompanying arrows must be at least 20 inches in overall length and tipped with unbarbed, fixed, or replaceable-blade type broadheads. If you use arrows and broadheads together must weigh at least 300 grains total weight.
- Crossbow – Crossbows must have at least 100 lbs. peak draws weight and at least 14 lbs. in draw length. The bolt must be 16 or more inches in length, tipped with an unbarbed fixed, replaceable, or mechanical/retractable blade. The bolt and blade together must weigh a total of 300 grains or more. However, you cannot attach any electronic devices to the crossbow.
West Canyon Ranch understands that all hunters have different preferences, which is why guests may use their weapon of choice during bison hunts, including rifle, muzzleloader, handgun, crossbow, or bow-and-arrow.
What do you need to hunt bison?
When hunting on a private ranch, you won’t need to worry about more than your usual hunting pack. West Canyon Ranch will provide all necessary food and accommodations, as well as any required tags. Our team will also quarter any animal you shoot, including packaging the meat, cape, and antlers. If you are out on the hunt, your guides will bring along walk-in coolers to store the meat until you return to the Ranch. From there, we will frost, freeze, and process the meat in any way you desire.
We can also process and ship the meat to your home, so you won’t need to worry about a thing. Our team can also set you up with local taxidermy services if you wish. No matter what you need, West Canyon Ranch is here to make it happen. Learn more about our services, including the cost of our guaranteed bison hunts online.
When is bison hunting season?
Wild bison hunting season typically runs from October- November in most regions and February-March in Alaska. However, guided bison hunting on privately-owned ranches occurs year-round. Learn more about West Canyon Ranch’s bison hunting season by contacting our team today.
Do you need a permit to hunt bison?
Yes, you need a permit to hunt bison in the United States. These tags can cost $4,000 to $7,000, depending on the area and the trophy’s size. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources issues hunting permits for bull hunting in Utah. You can apply for a tag for the upcoming season online or contact West Canyon Ranch to learn more about our tag services.
Are bison and buffalo the same thing?
While bison and buffalo are typically used as interchangeable terms, hunters understand the key differences between the two. Bison live in North America and Europe. Buffalo are native to Asia and Africa. Along with their different habitats, the two animals have different features. Bison have large humps and bigger heads than buffalos. They also have bars and heavy coats, which thin-out during early summer and spring.
You can use bison and buffalo, but if you want to become a true American sportsman, then it would be best to understand when and where to use the different terms.
Bison Hunting at West Canyon Ranch
West Canyon Ranch understands that all hunters have different preferences, which is why our trophy bison hunt can be customized to fit every type of hunter. Guests may use their weapon of choice during bison hunts, including rifle, muzzleloader, handgun, crossbow, or bow-and-arrow. Additionally, guests on our guaranteed bison hunts have the option to put their spot and stalk skills to the test or to hunt from a jeep or side by side.
The trophy bison hunts at West Canyon Ranch are all-inclusive. We provide licenses, professional guides, meals prepared by a private chef, lodging, airport transportation, and field dressing. For two days and one night, you can discover the exhilaration of bison hunting in Utah. Our seasoned guides have the expertise you need to find your once-in-a-lifetime trophy bull.
We recommend booking your experience as soon as possible because we offer a limited number of bison hunts each year. Contact us today to learn more about the unforgettable guaranteed bison hunts at West Canyon Ranch.