The American Bison… if you’re 1.) from the USA, 2.) have ever visited Yellowstone National Park, or really anywhere “out west”, 3.) or even just played the popular computer game The Oregon Trail back in the 80’s and 90’s, chances are you’ve seen a bison (or at least know what it is).

What happened to “buffalo”?

Although you may be somewhat familiar with bison, chances are, you may be more familiar with the term “buffalo”. The American Bison is in fact commonly referred to as “buffalo” – dating back to when settlers first  came to North America and the days of the Wild West and “Buffalo Bill”.

In fact, when these settlers came over, they noticed that this new animal resembled the beef from back home which in French was “bouef”, and eventually these animals became known as “buffalo”.

However, as we know, although bison and cattle share many characteristics, they are not the same species. The same is also true for the animals which ARE actually buffalo and native to Europe: for instance, the water buffalo. The genus and species for this animal is actually bison bison – and so while “buffalo” is certainly ingrained into our collective culture, technically speaking, it is not actually a “buffalo” at all, but in fact, bison.

Confused? Don’t worry! Because the word “buffalo” is so engrained in our heritage and our language, it’s considered an acceptable alternative for the animal we now know is in fact, The American Bison. So whether you want to say “bison” or “buffalo”, we’ll still know what you’re talking about!

So why are we talking so much about bison lately?

If you remember back from your Oregon Trail game playing days, catching a bison was the ultimate accomplishment when out for a hunt – and for good reason! As it turns out, the Native Americans and pioneers were on to something — not only is bison quite healthy, it’s tasty as well.

Luckily, despite significant efforts to wipe out the entire bison population during the Westward Expansion, the iconic animals survived (due to the efforts and foresight of a select few who made a point to save them) and are once again thriving, even though they will never number in the millions thundering over the prairie as they once were.

But because bison is thriving again, the average American can now get this nutritious, American meat at grocery stores, restaurants and even delivered straight to their door.

So, to help introduce you to bison, if you aren’t already familiar, we’ve compiled a list of facts about our favorite animal!

Some facts about Bison (the animal)…

#1. The American Bison is the largest land mammal in North America.

#2. Adult male bison can weigh up to 2000 lbs. — quite literally a ton! Female bison, are a bit smaller, weighing in around a mere 1,1000 lbs.

This is an image of an adult bison bull (male).

#3. Male and Female bison can live 20 years or longer.

#4. While before the mass slaughter of bison during Westward Expansion, millions of bison roamed the plains, now, due to conservation efforts and the work of private ranchers throughout the United States and Canada, bison have long been off the endangered species list and number over 500,000.

#5. Bison are incredibly strong animals, made up mostly of muscle. This is the reason their meat is so lean. A healthy bison can run at speeds of up to 40 mph and have an impressive vertical jump as well.

#6. Another reason bison are so strong: just look at their heads! Over many long winters in the harsh prairie the bison evolved to thrive in the conditions. Their large heads are large and strong enough to push away piles of snow to find their food. This requires their strong neck and hump (and really their entire body) to support their large heads.

#7. Bison are not tame or domestic animals. They are wild animals, and while they are generally docile and keep to themselves, bison can and will charge when they feel threatened (which is why you may have heard news stories about selfies gone horribly wrong at Yellowstone.)

Some facts about bison (the meat)…

#1. Bison are raised without growth hormones, steroids and antibiotics, keeping bison meat all natural. In fact, this is a provision required by all members of the governing body of bison producers: the National Bison Association (our very own NBA).

#2. You can get bison meat in all your favorite cuts from beef — steaks, roasts, burger and more. Heck, we even make all bison hot dogs, summer sausages and jerky products!

#3. Because bison are so full of muscle (see #4 in bison (the animal)), the meat they produce is incredibly lean, while still remaining very tender. It turns out that it doesn’t take fat and marbling to make a tender and delicious steak or roast!

Seasoned Ground Bison Burgers ready for the grill.

#4. A 4 oz. serving of ground bison contains 200 calorie, 11g of fat and 22g of protein. It’s organic grass-fed beef counterpart, contains 240 calories, 17g of fat and 21g of protein in 4 oz. of ground meat.

#5. But maybe you’re more interested in the steak. A 6 oz. Bison Filet Mignon (our top seller) contains just 180 calories, 3g of fat and a whopping 38g of protein. A 6 oz. Filet Mignon from an organic grass-fed beef cow contains 420 calories, 31g of fat and 33g of protein. That’s quite a difference!#6. Since bison is so lean, there is one thing you should note: cooking. Bison meat should be cooked low and slow. We always recommend cooking to “medium” doneness (leaving pink in the middle) or less. Cooking bison too fast or to well-done temperatures will cause bison to become chewy and tough, unlike it’s properly cooked counterpart which is tender, juicy and full of flavor.

#7. Bison meat is a deep red color. It should look noticeably different than beef in terms of color.

And there you have it, fourteen facts about bison. If you have more questions, browse around, we’ve got all kinds of information on the mighty bison and the meat it produces on the pages of this blog and our website. Or, if you’d prefer to talk to someone in person, about bison, our company or our products, you can always give us a call (888.665.8757) and we’ll be happy to talk with you.

So where do you get bison?

As I said above, bison is becoming more and more popular and easier to find. Some high-end grocers and restaurants carry selections of bison meat in their cases and on their menus. If you don’t have a nearby grocer who carries bison, or if you are looking for more variety of cuts and options, an online supplier is a great way to go. Look for a website where you can buy the meat directly from the people who raise bison and you can feel good knowing you’re getting high quality product from people who truly live to raise these animals.

So… are you ready to join so many others who have already added bison to their diet?

Great! We’re happy to have you! Feel free to browse our bison meat store anytime. We just know you’ll love the high quality meats and the great taste of bison!