Why You Need to Be Careful Around Wild Animals

Most people are taught that they need to take care when dealing with wild animals. However there is a difference between learning this lesson and being able to implement it.

I know this because when I was younger and less experienced I had a face to face encounter with a wild buffalo that almost cost me my life.

 Bull buffalo in the wild.

Some Background

Custer State Park in South Dakota is a beautiful 73,000 acre wildlife preserve that is well known for its pristine beauty.

It is home to many species of wildlife and also houses the second largest buffalo herd in the US.

What many park visitors do not realize is that the animals in this park roam free, and all can be dangerous.

People assume, even though warning signs are everywhere, that the animals are tame, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Every year people are injured or killed as a result, but for some reason visitors just don't "get" that they are not visiting a zoo!

People who are unaccustomed to being around wildlife often get into trouble when they go camping in such wilderness areas due to their lack of experience and, sometimes, their lack of common sense.

Problems can occur quickly and, in many cases, it is only one's ability to move and think quickly that saves him.

The story I share here is an example of how that worked out for me when I came face to face with a full grown bull buffalo one day just outside of my fifth wheel travel trailer!

A Change In Attitude

My husband and I were doing volunteer work in the park and had been there all summer.

Fall had arrived, and with it crisp, clear days and very chilly nights.

To protect our fifth wheel against the cold air, my husband had placed bales of hay around its bottom of our coach.

He never dreamed that some of the bull buffaloes would decide to show up on some mornings to snack on that same hay!

It was kind of fun to be able to reach out of the kitchen window to pet one of them or feel them scratching their behinds on our bike racks.

Thus we began to view our visitors more as pets than as wild animals, a mistake that almost cost me my life!

What Happened Next

One day I was getting ready to leave for my morning walk to the visitor's center where one of my duties was to raise the American Flag.

My mind was on work, but I knew I needed to empty the RV's black water tank before I left.

I came out the front door and headed towards the rear of our unit.  

As I turned the corner, I ran dead on into a full sized bull buffalo!

He looked at me, and I looked at him

Why I did what I did next, I do not know.  

Because I had become so complacent, I had it in my head that if I could treat that buffalo the same I would treat a dog.

I thought that if I looked him in the eye, stamped my foot, clapped my hands together and hollered "Go on. Get out of my way", he would scamper off.

It didn't quite work out that way!

What He Did and What I Did!

Instead of scampering off, the buffalo put his head down and grunted deeply and angrily. 

I knew then that I was in big trouble.

I backed away in order to get out of his line of sight, and then  made a dash for the front door.

Once inside, I froze because I was praying he would not ram our trailer.

I had never had such a close call with death!

Why I Was Late For Work

I waited.  I waited.  And I waited some more.


I very lightly went around the RV peeking out of the windows to see where he was, but I could not see him.

I thought it would be best to stay inside awhile to make sure, because if he caught me while I was walking to work, well, it would not be pretty.

Eventually I got my courage up and headed to the visitors center.

I wondered if anybody there would believe that the reason I was late was because I had met up with a buffalo and was afraid to leave the RV!

The Moral of This Story

The moral of this story should be clear to all who read it.

You can never let your guard down when you are around any type of wildlife, no matter how docile they may seem to be.

I got lucky because the only thing that happened was that I learned a big lesson.  

I hope you will learn it also and be extra careful when visiting wilderness areas.