National Bison Day: Buffalo Back on the Menu

Newly designated “National Mammal” makes for good eating.

natlbisondayNot long along, American bison, which most of us call “buffalo,” were near extinction. President Obama signed the National Bison Legacy Act on May 9,  making the well-recovered North American bison the official National Mammal of the United States. This is a great milestone for an animal that once faced extinction. November 5 has been designated by some organization as National Bison Day.

The bison has played a central role in America’s history and culture and helped shape the Great Plains and the lifestyle of Native Americans. Today, bison live in all 50 states and serves as a symbol of unity, resilience and healthy lifestyles and communities. These big, shaggy beasts are now also sufficiently abundant in the wild and on ranches that they have become an increasingly popular alternative to beef.

With his enormous Western ranches, Ted Turner can be credited  with much of the bison’s robust return. Not surprisingly, bison is on namesake Ted’s Montana Grill’s menus in the form of nachos, burgers, meatloaf,  pot roast and chili.

River and Woods has a terrific.ay specials for adults and kids. Order the bison burger with fabulous fries and a local 12-oz. draft beer for $10 ($8 during happy hour, 4 to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Friday). A kid’s version, including fries and a soft drink is $5. They can also grab a game or other activity to keep them occupied.

The Fort’s Friday, Saturday and Sunday Buffalo Prime Rib special includes bread and muffins and the restaurant’s multi-ingredient house salad. Price is $39 for an 8-ounce cut, $49 for 12 ounces and $59 for 16 ounces. Call 303-697-4771 for reservations.

Meanwhile, the University of Colorado – Boulder honors the buffalo/bison in its own way. The school’s mascot is a bison named Ralphie, the teams are nicknamed “The Buffs” and home games always start with four students running Ralphie around the football stadium. In truth, the real Ralphie (this current one being Ralphie V, donated by one of Ted Turner’s ranches) is a she, not a he. This has been going on for half a century, and the CU Heritage Center’s “Here Comes Ralphie” exhibit recognizes this tradition.