Start roaming already!


These big, beautiful buffalo had no trouble roaming around in my head. So why weren’t they roaming around Elk Island National Park?

“Oh give me a home where the buffalo roam,” kept running through my head from the moment we decided to go to the park. Somehow I had triggered childhood memories of the opening line from the song, Home on the Range.

When I was a kid that all sounded warmly sentimental and perfectly reasonable. But having buffalo wandering around a place you are trying to make a home, doesn’t sound quite so appealing anymore. They are beautiful animals but I am thinking there could be a few issues in addition to constantly watching where you step.

And then there are the purists who claim they really should be called bison. Don’t these people know that word doesn’t have enough syllables to work in the song? Besides any song that predates Google must be right!

Setting all that aside, there is still something appealing about the idea of roaming buffalo. I imagine this idyllic scene of carefree wandering, of enjoying the freedom to go wherever they please. I definitely wanted a good roaming photo.

Reality hit when we got to the park. Roaming was not happening. In fact, even the buffalo were in short supply. There was one lonely buffalo lying down and a few hanging around way off in the distance. We seemed to be the only ones roaming aimlessly looking for roaming!

Eventually we caught up with a few buffalo on the move. But this was definitely not roaming. It was all serious marching in a line – military style. Where’s the fun in that?


They took this marching thing so seriously that they seemed to get really close to each other. If it was me, I’d be a little more comfortable with a bit more space.


Even their posture seemed the opposite of roaming. They tended to walk with heads lowered, back hunched, plodding along … just following the ample buttocks in front of them.

Don’t get me wrong, they were impressive creatures and I enjoyed their company. It’s just that the song had created this carefree ideal that seemed to be missing.

To be fair, it is harder to roam in the snow. But when you start bad habits, they can easily carry on even when the snow is gone.

Something must be done. I’m thinking of going back in summer and setting up a roaming class for these buffalo. Who knows, I might even break into song – that should definitely kick in some roaming.

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You just know she’s thinking, alright who is supposed to be following right behind me?

Latest Comments

  1. mflahertyphoto says:

    You’re going to get the opportunity very soon to get more pictures of buffalo Lyle. Many more.


  2. janina says:

    I think I’d be hunched over too if I had to wade through all that snow….heavy goin’, lyle! I’m also glad you picked up on the bison thing….I guess that’s the nature of language; we have so many different names for the one thing….and I’m happy for those with the imagination to have come up with those. Love the bottom pic.


  3. Deb W. Trotter says:

    Perhaps they only used the word “roam” in the song to rhyme with “home?!” When you go to the Tetons, you’ll definitely find that the buffalo roam – we had to search the Park for the herd. But they do a lot of weird things with each other. You should get some very unexpected photos, I think!


    • lylekrahn says:

      You’re probably right about the rhyming thing but it does have a nice ring to it. I am really looking forward to the Tetons, the buffalo and everything else there.


  4. Scott Marshall says:

    A great ditty to walk through another great sequence – especially walking along in military style now where is the fun in that – clearly you have never been on parade 🙂


  5. mariayarri says:

    Great shots of a beautiful and majestic animal , thank you for sharing !
    In the part of Sweden where i live we have an animal named Muskox … They look like your buffalo but i think they are related with goats and sheeps … // Maria


  6. photographybycalliec says:

    Magic photos,something you would see out of national geographic magazine. Just amazing, well done!!! oh and awesome.
    cheers callie


  7. Stefano says:

    Very nice images of bison in the snow, Lyle: I particularly like the first and the last shot. Nicely done.


  8. Marcia P says:

    Nice shots. I appreciate you using the term “buffalo”. While bison is technically correct, there’s so much historical weight behind the word buffalo. You got me all inspired now…


  9. Jeff | Planet Bell says:

    Buffalo, er, Bison, are one of my favorite animals. We have them in a few parks where I’m from in Oklahoma and I saw hundreds driving the ALCAN a few years ago, probably not far from where you are.

    When it comes to humans, they do like their space. I was hiking once and a Buffalo was sleeping under a dead cedar tree. He blended in pefectly. I nearly stepped on him, he jumped up and stared me down, pawing at the ground in a threatening way. I climbed atop the nearest rock and waited.


    • lylekrahn says:

      It’s always interesting coming up suddenly on wildlife. It gets a lot more interesting when the animals are lot bigger than you like your situation.


  10. Phil Lanoue says:

    Those two do look dangerously close to each other.
    Yes they may need a refresher course in roaming.


  11. caleephotography says:

    WOW, they’re so impressive!! I’ve never seen a buffalo in real life, the closest I’ve come are musk oxes (in the North of Sweden). Great shots, Lyle!


  12. jane tims says:

    Hi. I like the photos… they capture a kind of calm in the herd. Our property used to have buffalo (raised as livestock) and I have a hard time imagining them there. Your photos help. Jane


  13. doraiswamyganesh says:

    Dear Lyle,Is it the winter and lack of fodder that makes them so thin ? They are indeed beautiful animals similar to the Yaks found in the higher altitudes of India in places like the banihal pass Sikkim,Kulu, Manali.Even in Manali they breathe heavily on account of the altitudes dropping by about 300meteres.Regards, Ganesh.


    • lylekrahn says:

      It will be much more difficult to find food in winter especially since we’ve had more snow this year. I had noticed the ribs showing. I’m sure they’ll fatten up again in spring.


  14. rachel bar says:

    quite agree with the first comment. they look kind of sad and lacking in energy. your pictures though are great!


  15. niasunset says:

    The first one fascinated me. You captured such a beautiful photographs with them. Thanks and Love, nia


  16. hannele says:

    beautiful creatures 🙂


  17. Mike Powell says:

    I also grew up with that song and have visions too of roaming buffalo and deer and antelope playing (not to mention the discouraging word seldom heard and the skies not being cloudy all day). Reality as an adult doesn’t seem to match very much of the song, alas. Discouraging words and cloudy skies, un-roaming buffalo and un-playing deer seem too often the norm (and the internet tells me that there are no true antelope in North America, although some refer to the pronghorn as an antelope even though it is a different species from the Old World antelope).

    Your shots really convey the size and power of the buffalo–they are ruggedly handsome beasts who deserve the right to roam!


    • lylekrahn says:

      I like that term ruggedly handsome! It describes them well. I had also discovered that oddity about no true antelope in North America. Maybe the song can’t be trusted about roaming either!!


  18. The Earth Beneath My Feet says:

    Gorgeous pix Lyle. Shame, they do look rather miserable, but I would too in that amount of snow 🙂 …Even with that lovely thick coat of theirs.


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