April 15, 2011

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Don't call them buffalo around Herbert M. "Skip" Sayers, who likes to explain that buffalo are African and Asian, and in the United States, we really have bison. We just called them buffalo because early French explorers thought they looked like the cows or oxen back home and called them les boeufs, for beef. The Sioux called them tatonka.

SayersBrook Bison Ranch

11820 Sayersbrook Road, Potosi, Missouri 63664


(573) 438-4449

(573) 438-2948

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    "They are bison, period," Skip says. "We never use that other b-word. Never." While neither the National Bison Association nor the U.S. Department of Agriculture collects bison statistics, officials at each say Skip's herd at SayersBrook Bison Ranch is likely in the top ten in the country and is the largest in Missouri.

    The ranch was started by Skip's grandfather, a printer who received six hundred acres as payment of a debt. In fact, the lodge is built around the original log cabin that Skip's grandparents lived in while at the ranch. There used to be 3,000 apple trees on the ranch, and his grandfather also worked with cattle. Today, bison grunt softly and sound kind of like pigs as they approach the Humvee that Skip uses to scout the ranch.

    The bison are not grunting out of affection or because they're tame. Rather, they think they might be fed.

    Raising bison is all about the meat, Skip says. It's 97% fat free and lean. Skip and Connie offer catalogs showcasing their meat and other bison products.

    The ranch offers tours, arranged hunts, boat rides on a mile-long private lake, and barbecues for groups. The planned hunts are not left to chance. The Sayers find out whether they want to hunt open plains or wooded forest, whether the hide will be tanned, the head mounted, the meat processed, and on and on. Lodging can be five-star at facilities there, or under-the-stars. A guide accompanies clients, prepared to shoot should a charging bison come within 10 years of the guest.

    Hunts are for two-year-old bison in their prime. They can run up to 42 miles per hour for a short distance, and Skip has seen bulls sail easily over seven-foot fences.

    Sayersbrook also offers a 16-station sporting clay range with computer and radio-controlled shooting stations. Quail, hare, pheasant, grouse, teal, turkey and duck pop up and then zig and zag across open water, fields, or forest for a real test of talent.

    A gift shop on the ranch has bison meat, hides, and other products.

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