Thursday, February 2, 2023

Local rancher brings bison together to roam

Bill Casner admits there aren’t many days that go by where he’s not stopping at the front gate of his 170-acre ranch in Flower Mound to marvel at his animals. While he enjoys having all of them as residents, two seem to catch his eye more than the rest — Bullet and Buffy.

“They’re just two really good-looking animals,” Casner said. “I never get tired of looking at them. They’re remnants of the Old West.”

Anyone who’s driven by Casner’s property — located about a mile west of Cristina’s Mexican Restaurant on Cross Timbers Road — has likely done a few double-takes as well. After all, it’s not every day that residents and passersby see two American Bison (Bison bison), though many people call them buffalo, hanging out together on the same Denton County ranch.

And Casner certainly didn’t expect it, either.

He’s owned Buffy for 15 years. He bought him when he was about a year old and was told at first that he was getting a standard cow. It wasn’t long before he realized what he had on his hands was a bison. Not too long later, Casner got two “beefalo” out of the deal when Buffy eventually mated with two longhorn cows.

Still, Buffy was the only one of his kind on the property. About a year ago, Casner added Bullet, a 1,000-pound bison, after the previous owner and fellow local rancher, Maribeth Yarbrough, put her up for sale.

Gazette readers might remember Bullet, which made the news several years ago for being portrayed as a housebroken pet allowed to roam free inside her owner’s home. Bullet lived in Argyle at the time with Karen Schoeve, but she was hoping to find her a new home since her two-acre property wasn’t large enough to accommodate her 20 horses, let alone Bullet.

That’s when Yarbrough swooped in and adopted Bullet.

Yarbrough said at the time that Bullet followed her around like a very large dog. When Yarbrough sat down in a lawn chair, Bullet stayed next to her — licking her and trying to “groom” her. Eventually, Bullet settled down next to Yarbrough and fell asleep.

“The back door had been left open, and that’s how Bullet had wandered inside,” Yarbrough explained in our 2016 interview. “I asked if I could see this buffalo that was being re-homed — for a fee, of course. She led me through the home, and I could see her in the backyard grazing on the green grass around this disaster of a backyard. We went out, and she called her name. Bullet came over immediately, and I knew right away she liked me.”

Over the next few years, Bullet remained the only bison on Yarbrough’s ranch, and as much as she enjoyed having her around, she knew it’d be better if Bullet were with more of her kind. And Casner agreed.

“That was one of the reasons why she wanted to find her a new home,” Casner said. “Bullet was alone. Every time I drove down the road, I saw Bullet off by herself. So I bought her.”

Now, Casner has two bison, two beefalo, and a slew of other animals on his property.

So the question now becomes, when will Bullet and Buffy mate?

“Buffalo only breed for about six weeks between August and the first week of September, so we won’t really know for a little while,” Casner said. “I just really enjoy having them around. They are interesting animals to watch.”

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