Bison ranchers to share information at CTHC’s National Day of the Cowboy event
Baby bison rescued, now a part of Stepp family
It started with five cows and one bull in 1996. Now Sandy Springs Farm in Hinton, owned by James and Sandy Stepp have a viable Oklahoma business – all centered around the bison.
Called the Wichita Buffalo Company because many people still know the American bison as a buffalo, the Stepps are about raising quality bison meat on their farm. The Chisholm Trail Heritage Center is one of its customers. The couple will be here on National Day of the Cowboy, Saturday, July 27, to talk about the benefits of bison products and what it’s meant to them to be bison ranchers.
Buffalo jerky is one of the products offered by the Stepps. They sell the meat to farmer’s markets, restaurants and health food stores.
“We made a living selling buffalo meat from that point (1996) until about a year ago. Now we sell calves to other breeders throughout the United States,” James Stepp said.
Stepp makes sure his bison have range available for roaming without overcrowding or penning.
“We love our buffalo and know that we live a blessed life living amongst and around them.”
Take for example, the story of Stormy, shared by James.
“When Stormy, one of our current buffalo herd bulls, was born, his mother deserted him. A neighbor found him in his pasture and called us. We rescued him and brought him home and put him in the barn and began research on how to take care of him. But baby buffalo bond very closely with their mothers and his health quickly deteriorated. So we brought him to the house and he lived with us in our house and yard for the first several months of his life. His health recovered and he is now a valuable member of our family.”
Before the Stepps ventured into the bison ranching business, they had only known about bison at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. During travels, they saw small herds throughout other regions and started asking questions. Hearing that people could have a bison herd for livestock production just as you would cattle or hogs sparked enough interest to research the possibility of becoming bison ranchers.
“We got started about the time that people were looking for more healthy and more natural meat, so it has worked very well for us.”
Being a responsible bison producer also means educating the public. They share their knowledge with others, either those who visit the farm, or they travel to places to talk about bison ranching.
“We are bison ranchers who seek to preserve these magnificent animals through education about their value to the land and the quality of the meat.”
Visit the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center on Duncan’s original National Day of the Cowboy Celebration, Saturday, July 27, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. to meet the Stepps and learn about bison and even buy some of their products.
The Heritage Center’s summer exhibit, Bison: Ancient. Massive. Wild., is the largest exhibit the museum has had in its 21 years. The nationally touring exhibit is from the Kaufmann Museum in Kansas and the National Buffalo Foundation. National Day of the Cowboy, a free day, will be the final opportunity to see this fascinating exhibit.
To learn more, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E37Z_uxEfzk&feature=youtu.be
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