South Dakota Bison with a .444 Marlin

By Jake Bartes

August 31, 2022

It was negative 17 when we started hunting. We drove around several dirt roads trying to glass the different herds to see where they were frequenting. My guide knew I was after a cow (for the better meat) and told me about a large female that had caused a lot of problems for them lately. She had charged several people, killed another cow bison, and even killed a horse! We located a few and set on foot, walking for several miles in the bitter cold. We got to within 300 yards of a small herd, and saw several young bulls, and young cows. We chose to pass and keep looking. We headed off to the west, stopping to take a look through the binoculars to see if there were any bison in the distance and saw nothing at first...Then the guide thought he saw a hump sticking up through the prairie grass about a mile off. He asked if I wanted to take a look to see if it was a bull or not, and I said let's do it.

We slowly made our way closer, and it's usually the big bulls that head off on their own like that, and the size of the animal made both myself and the guide think that it was a bull. However, we got to within three hundred yards of it, put up the binoculars, and realized it was the big devil cow that had been tormenting the others. He asked if I wanted to try and take it, but warned me she would most likely charge us, and I told him let's try and get her. We got to within 200 yards, and she finally herd the crunching of our feet against the snow. I had the shooting sticks ready and the hammer back on my Marlin 444S when she sprang up to see what we were, and then she charged! She got to within 125 yards of us, stopped abruptly and turned broadside to get a better look at us. I put the scope behind her shoulder, just above the crease where her heart was (her leg blocked any attempt at a heart shot, since it's so low on their body) and fired. She stood there for a moment, rocked a little, turned to her left, and took off on a sprint. She stopped at 300 yards, turned back to look at me again, this time with the bare patch, where her heart is located exposed, rocking a little ready to fall over. I sent off another round just in case, and smacked her dead center in the heart, and she fell like a ton of bricks. When we gutted and skinned her out, both my shots were within one inch of each other. The first right above her heart, and the second right below it through the middle of her heart. It was a very labor intensive hunt in some ways, walking through the rolling plains with the hard packed snow. The cold temps and severe wind chills, but at the end of the day I came away with a trophy of a lifetime, and fulfilled a dream that I had had since I was a little boy.

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