Monday, November 9, 2009

And a bison-huntin’ we will go…

This summer, my cousin Jacqueline taught me something about buffalo. She taught me that the following sentence is, in fact, completely functional and grammatically correct:

“Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo.”

Go figure. No really – go figure. That’s an order. Some of you already know how this one works, but the majority of you are mystified and have given way to disbelief. Figure it out … and I’ll unpack it for you next blog.

That was my excellent segue/ice-breaker leading straight into me talking about my buffalo….er, bison….hunting trip that took place this weekend.

Our friends Adam and Shannon (who very recently moved here from Nova Scotia) wanted to go for a long drive Sunday, and invited Rosie and I to tag along. They wanted to go bisson hunting.

Did you notice my typo? Just wanted to emphasize the hard “s” sound made by most Canadians when pronouncing the word “bison”. MOST Canadians… but not Manitobans. I remember that when I first moved to BC around 9 years ago, it was the first word that came out of my mouth that marked me as a sure-fire foreigner on the coast. That and the word syrop, which I pronounced “see” instead of “sir”. Manitobans are die-hard protective of the pronunciation of their beloved provincial emblem: the bizon. They WILL fight you if you tell them that the right way to utter the word is “bi-son”. More specifically, Rosie will fight you if you tell her that the right way to utter it is to NOT vocalize the fricative. Manitobans boldly and proudly voice their buffalo’s fricatives.

I digress.

We drove out to Fort Providence, which is about 200 km northwest of here. Along the way, we stopped at a few different locations to check out the sights, take some photos, and enjoy the crystal clear blue sky.

And the grayscale version of the clear blue sky:

Right before the small town of Fort Providence, there is a ferry crossing to get across the Mackenzie River. If you look on a map, and find the southwestern point of Great Slave Lake that joins the Mackenzie, you’ll find Fort Providence, where the mouth begins to narrow. This is Rosie and Adam walking back to the car to await the ferry creeping up behind them from across the river.

while I appreciated the land around the ferry "terminal"

As soon as you cross the river, you enter a wood buffalo reserve. And though we drove two whole hours without seeing any wildlife other than a few birds here and there, as soon as we crossed water we saw immediate evidence that we were in the land of the wild wood buffalo. Meandering, messy tracks with occasional sniff spots denting the snow like snowpants-clad human butt prints. We drove into town first to see if we could find ourselves a place to eat lunch - the day was getting on, and we were getting hungry.

We found a little greasy-spoon (seemingly the only place to eat out other than at the gas station), and while I ordered a chicken burger and Shannon ordered a fried egg sandwich…Rosie and Adam ordered buffalo burgers. When in Rome…

30 minutes later, when we were back on the road and in the midst of encountering our first wild wood buffalo, Rosie whispered softly to the beasts: “You are beautiful. And delicious.”


Our first encounter was with a cow and her calf, who seemed more than slightly annoyed at our childlike glee at the occasion of meeting them. Or maybe it was the fact that our car stalked them slowly from behind….

then inching along beside them as they walked along the highway...

then inching just past them, and stopping dead in front of them so they’d have to walk around us or head off the road entirely:

They opted for the latter:

Then we shot them.

When we tired of shooting them, we continued our hunt for more buffalo. Ten minutes up the road, we came upon three more.

We shot them, too.

And the big bull on the far left reminded me of a Sith Lord.

We continued north up the highway (which would take us to Yellowknife if we continued on a few hours more), and took a few more pictures of the scenery:

and then we decided to head home while we still had a couple hours of daylight left. On our way back, we saw the most beautiful sunset:

Oh. And the shooting of the buffalo? Cameras, people, cameras. Who do you take me for? A redneck?

The End.


  1. looks cold. (nice shots)
    I thought the white people killed all the buffalo.

  2. You had me for a moment there... I was quite confused. Love, love, love that you are blogging!