Facts About The American Buffalo in South Dakota

Note: The range of the Buffalo is fairly large but they may or may not be in South Dakota.  If you are traveling to the western range of the Buffalo from South Dakota, this information is provided for better understanding of this animal.

Rocky Mountain BuffaloIf bison reside in South Dakota, they are the largest mammal and males can weigh up to 2,000 pounds and stand 6 feet tall.  The Yellowstone herd is the only location where bison have continuously lived since prehistoric times.  These herds are considered the only “pure” strain that roam the country’s grasslands and as of 2015, the population of the Yellowstone herd is estimated at 4,900 making it the largest in the country.

You can somewhat judge a bison’s mood by what’s going on with its tail.  When calm, the tail hangs down and switches naturally.  Although you can never trust the mood of a bison, when that tail is straight up, it’s time to stand back and get out of its way as it may be ready to charge.

The bison can live up to 20 years with an average between 10 and 20 years.  The cows begin breeding after 2 years, the bulls after 6 years.  All bison love to wallow in the dirt but the males perform this task during mating season to leave their scent and display their strength.

Bison Butting HeadsThe ancestry can be traced back to southern Asia thousands of years ago but made their way to America crossing the land bridge connecting Asia with North America hundreds of thousands of years ago.  Then, these bison were much larger and fossil records show that a prehistoric bison had horns measuring 9 feet from tip to tip.

The American bison's ancestors can be traced to southern Asia thousands of years ago. Bison made their way to America, and near South Dakota, by crossing the ancient land bridge that once connected Asia with North America during the Pliocene Epoch, some 400,000 years ago. These ancient animals were much larger than the iconic bison we love today. Fossil records show that one prehistoric bison, Bison had horns measuring 9 feet from tip to tip.

While bison have poor eyesight, they have excellent senses of smell and hearing. Cows and calves communicate using pig-like grunts, and during mating season, bulls can be heard bellowing across long distances.

The Region and Landscape Of South Dakota

Mount RushmoreSouth Dakota is located in the Midwestern region of the United States. It is named after the Lakota and Dakota Sioux Native American tribes, who compose a significant portion of the population and historically dominated the entire territory. South Dakota is the 17th most expansive, but the 5th least populous and the 5th least densely populated of the 50 United States. Once the southern portion of the Dakota Territory, South Dakota became a state on November 2, 1889, simultaneously with North Dakota. Pierre is the state capital and Sioux Falls, with a population of about 171,000, is South Dakota's largest city.

South Dakota is bordered by the states of North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Montana. The state is bisected by the Missouri River, dividing South Dakota into two geographically and socially distinct halves, known to residents as "East River" and "West River".  Eastern South Dakota is home to most of the state's population, and fertile soil in this area is used to grow a variety of crops. West of the Missouri, ranching is the predominant agricultural activity, and the economy is more dependent on tourism and defense spending. Most of the Native American reservations are located in West River. The Black Hills, a group of low pine-covered mountains sacred to the Sioux, are located in the southwest part of the state. Mount Rushmore, a major tourist destination, is located there. South Dakota experiences a temperate continental climate, with four distinct seasons and precipitation ranging from moderate in the east to semi-arid in the west. The ecology of the state features species typical of a North American grassland biome.

The Geography of South Dakota

South Dakota is situated in the north-central United States, and is considered a part of the Midwest by the U.S. Census Bureau;[8] it is also part of the Great Plains region. The culture, economy, and geography of western South Dakota have more in common with the West than the Midwest.  South Dakota has a total area of 77,116 square miles (199,730 km2), making the state the 17th largest in the Union.

DeadwoodBlack Elk Peak, formerly named Harney Peak, with an elevation of 7,242 ft (2,207 m), is the state's highest point, while the shoreline of Big Stone Lake is the lowest, with an elevation of 966 ft (294 m).  South Dakota is bordered to the north by North Dakota; to the south by Nebraska; to the east by Iowa and Minnesota; and to the west by Wyoming and Montana. The geographical center of the U.S. is 17 miles (27 km) west of Castle Rock in Butte County.  The North American continental pole of inaccessibility is located between Allen and Kyle, 1,024 mi (1,648 km) from the nearest coastline.

The Missouri River is the largest and longest river in the state. Other major South Dakota rivers include the Cheyenne, James, Big Sioux, and White Rivers. Eastern South Dakota has many natural lakes, mostly created by periods of glaciation.  Additionally, dams on the Missouri River create four large reservoirs: Lake Oahe, Lake Sharpe, Lake Francis Case, and Lewis and Clark Lake.

The Best Fishing Spots in South Dakota

Sylvan LakeIron Creek Lake:

Reausaw Lake:

Flat Creek Lake
Walleye, northern pike, largemouth bass and crappies

Curlew Lake
Walleye, largemouth bass, crappies and bluegills

Little White River Project
Walleyes, largemouth bass, northern pike, crappies, channel catfish and yellow perch

Little Moreau #1
Largemouth bass, bluegill, black crappie and northern pike

Lake Oahe
Walleye, northern pike, white bass, smallmouth bass and channel catfish

Brakke Lake
Largemouth bass, bluegills, walleye and yellow perch

Lake Sharpe Tailrace
Walleye, catfish, white bass, smallmouth bass, and trout

Rahn Lake
Largemouth bass, bluegill black bullhead, yellow perch and crappies

Dakota Richmond Lake
Bluegill, crappie, walleye, white bass, largemouth bass and smallmouth bass

Roy Lake
Smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, walleyes and bluegills

BlueDog Lake
Walleye, northern pike and white bass

Lake Poinsett
Smallmouth bass, walleye, white bass and perch.

Lake Byron
Walleyes, northern pike and perch

Lake Campbell
Perch, northern pike and walleyes

Loss Lake
Crappie, perch, walleyes and channel cats

Alvin Lake
Bluegill, crappie and bullheads

Marindahl Lake
Crappie, bluegill and channel catfish

Pick Your City in SD
  1. Rapid City (SD)
  2. Sioux Falls (SD)