Caprock Canyons State Park is home to the Texas State Bison Herd. These animals, introduced into the park in 1997 for preservation and restoration, are the last surviving individuals of the genetically distinct Southern Plains Bison.
Until recently, the bison were contained in an isolated region of the park, and visitors could only view them from a distance. As of last year, they are now allowed to roam over 10,000 acres of the park, including areas occupied by visitors. We saw many of these bison during our visit to the park last month, and my photos of them are the subject of this post.
I should point out that park visitors are warned to stay at least 50 yards away from the bison. Indeed, whenever I approached a group and got, say, 50-70 yards from them, at least one of these nearly 2000-lb individuals would spot me and start staring me down. The distance warning immediately popped into my mind, and I approached no closer. Thus, any “closeup” shot in this post is at the maximum focal length of the zoom lens used, so image quality took a hit.
The photo below was taken from the trail during one of our hikes.
Canon EOS REBEL SL1 (50mm, f/16, 1/500 sec, ISO400)
We were able to get closer to the bison than the above image suggests. In fact, several of them grazed near the entrance to our campground daily.
Canon EOS REBEL SL1 (300mm, f/6.3, 1/500 sec, ISO400)
Leaving our campground one morning, we saw some bison lying on the grass. They seemed to be taking a break.
Canon EOS 7D (600mm, f/7.1, 1/640 sec, ISO2000)
Occasionally, a group of of bison roaming together would separate into smaller groups like the one below. This particular group was nice enough to choose a grazing spot that provided a nice background for their photo.
Canon EOS REBEL SL1 (117mm, f/6.3, 1/2500 sec, ISO400)
One individual from the above group left its companions and walked over to a sign near our campground. It then proceeded to scratch itself back and forth against the edges of the sign boards.
Canon EOS REBEL SL1 (141mm, f/6.3, 1/2000 sec, ISO400)
There are several online descriptions of the Southern Plains Bison restoration efforts at Caprock Canyons State Park. One I found particularly interesting, Resurrection of the Lost Bison Herd, is written and illustrated by the Official Photographer of the State of Texas.
Hover your mouse cursor over a marker in the map below to reveal a label indicating which photos were taken at that location.