Those who know Jason well have heard the story of the early morning excursion at Elk Island in which he found himself nose to nose with a bison grazing on the side of the road. Jason was busy at the back of the car readying his camera gear for the photo, and Mr. Buffalo was busy enjoying his morning feast. Neither realized how close the bison was getting until they were quite literally looking eye to eye at the trunk of the car. Imagine being less than 1m away from a 800kg, 2 m high four legged furry thing with very large horns! When you have just interrupted his breakfast! Both Jason and the buffalo snorted/screamed, jumped, and bolted...We’ll leave you to guess who jumped the highest.
And did Jason get the shot? Of course he did…
Elk Island is a lovely little park located only 45minutes east of Edmonton. Because of its proximity to the city it is a popular spot for families camping on long weekends. But if you go during its quieter times, it is a peaceful place on the side off Astotin Lake, teeming with over 200 varieties of water birds, and of course, beavers. It is a unique spot where the quiet visitor can sit for hours at the edge of the water watching beavers build their dams, up close and personal. The park is home to both plains buffalo and wood buffalo, and with about 195km2 of land reserved for their protection, it is Canada’s largest fully fenced park.
Another unique place in Alberta to properly meet a buffalo is at Head-Smashed-In Provincial Park, located about 15 minutes northwest of Fort Macleod. Recognized in 1981 by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a World Heritage Site, it is apparently one of the world's oldest, largest, and best preserved buffalo jumps. Used as a hunting method by Canada’s First Nation’s peoples for over 60,000 years, the area now includes an interpretive center, museum, walking tracks around the site, and a café. For the open minded visitor, the café features native themed fare, including buffalo stew, buffalo burgers and buffalo chili.