Well, what a wonderful time had by all at the International Bison Conference (IBC) in Big Sky, Montana July 4th – 7th! The week of celebration, education, and fellowship that had its headquarters at the Big Sky Resort had something for everyone of every age. With a location such as this, the pure scenery and resort activities were enough to provide all with a wonderful week.
IBC kick-started the 4 day event with an off-site rendezvous at the 320 Guest Ranch. At the Ranch, guests (numbered 600 plus) were treated to a rib luncheon followed by a welcome by Roy Liedtke, President of the National Bison Association. Guests were then free to tour the ranch, visit with fellow attendees, and listen to presenters for the afternoon. Shortly before the delightful trout cookout dinner, musical entertainment was provided by the Michael Martin Murphey Trio. After dinner, buses took people back to Big Sky Resort where fireworks lit up the sky for the 4th of July Independence Day Celebration.
Wednesday morning was filled with education, with presentation topics covering climate, bison health, and the future of the bison. During lunch, there was a special announcement centering on the new goal for bison restoration: Bison One Million. This was the launching of the formal ‘Bison One Million’ campaign, and became a pinnacle concept for the remainder of the conference. After lunch, attendees were either able to take part in the NBA meeting(s) or spend some time taking in the Big Sky Resort sites and activities.
In the evening, everyone gathered for an absolutely delicious, 100% grass fed, New York Strip Steak dinner sponsored by Northstar Bison. The evening ended with some relaxation, discussion, and entertainment provided by Wylie & the Wild West Concert.
Thursday started off with a breakfast sponsored by EPIC Provisions Protein Powder, followed by speakers focused on marketing topics such as Bison in the Global Perspective and Building the Brand of Bison. Everyone in attendance was also updated on the Canadian Code of Practices for Bison, an important topic to keep the industry strong within both Canada and the US.
The afternoon saw optional activities of either poster presentations or the Bison Film Festival. If those were not enough for options, guests were also able to (throughout the entire week) check out the travelling exhibit ‘exploring the past, present, and future of this great North American mammal’ (see BisonExhibit.org).
Dinner for the evening, mouth watering tenderloin, was sponsored by Intermountain Bison Co., which then led into the auction for a Yellowstone Bull, Shiloh Sharps rifle, Bison leather chair, and some other exciting items, including private label IBC wine. To say the auction was a success is perhaps an understatement, with the Yellowstone Bull going for $42,500 USD. What was yet another fun filled and informative day, concluded with some post dinner conversation and drinks while listening to the Leo Downey Jr. Band.
The final day of the conference, July 7th, was another off site adventure, this time taking place at the picturesque Flying D Ranch, owned by Ted Turner. Presentations and welcomes were given by a number of individuals, included Ted Turner himself. After a lunch of wonderfully tender ribs, guests left the ranch headquarters to either head home, back to Big Sky Resort, or the last option, a guest favorite, a tour of Flying D Ranch. A highlight of the entire event, people caravanned by car, truck, motorcycle, and even buses, to take in the opportunity to observe the handling facility and view the bison roaming and grazing on this massive and beautiful range.
From educational mornings to relaxing afternoons and fun filled evenings, IBC at Big Sky, Montana had it all. What a fantastic event for members of the Canadian Rangeland team to be a part of; to learn, to take part in fellowship, and perhaps most of all, to celebrate the wonderful and magnificent animal that is our life and livelihood, the bison.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, stay bison strong.