Did you know that there is a bison ranch in nearby York, South Carolina? Tatanka Bison Ranch, at 8088 Kays Drive, York, South Carolina, is about 48 miles from the center of Charlotte.
You might also be interested in this big list of animal encounters in the Charlotte area.
The story of Tatanka Bison Ranch
After Fred Ilse retired from the corporate world in 2014, he found an abandoned, but stunning, 215-acre property in York County. He envisioned it as the place he wanted to spend his retirement and realize his life-long interest in farming.
Shortly thereafter he was traveling through North Carolina and saw a herd of bison alongside the highway. He learned that in the 1700s bison were common in the Carolinas before disappearing from the North Carolina landscape.
Tatanka Bison Ranch became a way that Ilse could combine his interest in farming with his interest in America’s National Mammal, while offering something unique to the community.
Visiting Tatanka Bison Ranch
Tatanka Bison Ranch offers a Group Bison Buggy Wagon Tour, and, during this time, they’ve modified it a little bit to be safer for our current situation.
The “Social Distancing Tour” is perfect for a group of people who are quarantining together, or who have formed a learning pod, or are in a “safe bubble.” Anyone who feels safe together can take this tour together.
Effective October 1st, the cost is $15 per adult, $7 per child age 5-15, and free for children under age 5, with a minimum charge of $100.
The tour can accommodate up to 16 people. You book as a group, and you won’t encounter any other groups.
The tours are offered Sundays through Fridays, because the ranchers are at the farmers’ market on Saturdays. On hot days they do the tours in the mornings and late afternoons. They’re flexible on times.
Call 704-860-2130 to book your tour.
You should book at least a day or two ahead. They don’t take walk-ins, since it’s a gated ranch. The bison are wild — not tame or domesticated.
You’ll travel in a covered wagon with cushioned seating, and learn all about the ranch from Fred Ilse. He won’t need to get close to your group (he has a booming voice!) but if you’d like him to wear a mask he is happy to do so!
On the two-hour tour, you’ll learn about the history of the area and about the ranch, the natural environment, and, of course, the bison, including their family structures and herd instincts.
You’ll take a ride across the ranch to the corral and handling facilities, and learn how these work and what they do there. For the last 45 minutes you’ll get a close view of the main herd.
The herd currently includes 16 calves, and you can see their interaction with each other, and with their “mamas and daddy.” You’ll get to see “Big Boy,” the huge bull. (He’s the dad.)
Because of the terrain the ranch is not wheelchair accessible. Also, dogs are not allowed, as they remind the bison of wolves, their main predator.
Purchasing Bison Products
Tatanka Bison Ranch’s primary mission is agritourism and education, but it is a working bison ranch, and offers bison meat for sale. You can purchase products from the ranch store, at Uptown Farmers Market, and by delivery (within a 30 mile radius of York.) Please call 704-860-2130 before coming to the ranch, as it’s a gated ranch.
If you go on a tour you will get 10% off any meat purchases that day.
The ranch is a member of the National Bison Association and abides by their code, which ensures the humane and sustainable raising of bison.
The animals are 100% grass-fed and 100% grass-finished, and no growth hormones or antibiotics are used.
If you enter the ranch store, you must wear a face covering.
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