About Lucky B Bison Ranch > history

History of Bison

The North American plains bison is making a powerful comeback after numbers declined to less than l000 animals by the end of l880. Bison population at the time of the Louis and Clark expeditions was estimated at 40 million to 60 million. Due to westward expansion, the building of the railroads and the United States governmental policy toward Native Americans, our country watched as this animal was almost annihilated.

Conservation efforts by a few ranchers (i.e. the Goodnight family from Texas) and several protected public herds (i.e. Yellowstone) have resulted in a current bison population of around 400,000.

Bison have historically been the mainstay of native Americans, providing everything from food, shelter clothing, tools and spiritual wellbeing.

Today several Native American tribes have bison herds.

Whether you call this animal bison, buffalo, cibola, or tatanka, "lord of the plains", no other animal has played such a significant role in our history. A true symbol of America as seen on coins and flags, we can be proud that this special animal has indeed thundered back.

History of Lucky B Bison
By Beverly Brown

Lucky B Ranch was purchased in l983 by Reagan and Gladys Brown, primarily for an investment and for a small cattle operation. Reagan Brown, the former commissioner of agriculture for the state of Texas, had retired, and he and Gladys moved back to their former hometown of Bryan. Vincent Court was the previous owner of the land, situated about eight miles northwest of Bryan.

Although cattle is king in Texas, Reagan felt that bison would be a great addition to the ranch.

In l99l the first bison calf (No. 1, Beasy) was brought to the ranch. This was a Christmas present surprise to Reagan's daughter, Beverly. Beasy was a 6-month-old bottle-fed bison heifer purchased from Hampton and Buffy Hodges of Paris, Texas. The operating and holding pens were improved and made "buff tuff." It was then time to increase our bison herd of one.

When she was grown, Beasy was artificially inseminated by Dr. Clifford Dorn of Rafter D Genetics. This was the first successful artificial insemination of a bison in Texas using frozen semen. Artificial insemination was chosen because we had no bison bull. Soon after that, Reagan learned of a bison bull owned by Tom Johnson of Austin's Mueller Airport family. Reagan went by himself at the age of seventy to pick up the newly purchased bull and haul him to his new home in Bryan.

When he arrived, Reagan discovered that the bull was not in a holding pen to load. Dad went out into the pasture, which had a river on one side that served as a boundary. He was worried that the bull, which he promptly named Tugboat that day, might escape down the river. But because of Reagan's skills of persuasion–and a tasty can of feed–Tugboat loaded himself into the trailer. He and Reagan headed home.

Expansion of the herd continued with a call from Jimmy Brown, son of Reagan and Gladys, who lived in Odessa, Texas, at the time. Jimmy saw a newspaper ad offering two mature female buffalo with calves from Fort Stockton, Texas. "We'll deliver," the ad said.

With Gladys' encouragement, I called and said, "Come on down." The owners had not realized they would be driving eight hours to Brazos County. The two cows, Tiny and Eloise, lived and prospored at the ranch for years, and Reagan always considered Eloise his favorite.

Today our herd numbers around 60 animals. Donnis Baggett is now my husband and a partner in Lucky B Bison. (Even hard-headed former newspaper men can eventually see the light.) As a side note, prior to his death Reagan had encouraged me on several occasions to go meet Donnis. Little did he know that we would eventually become partners in both life and the bison business. Donnis is a past vice president of the National Bison Association and is currently serving on the board of the Texas Bison Association.

In 1995, Lucky B began its meat business, stressing the healthful nutrition and tastiness of bison, which has no growth stimulants, hormones etc. That business still continues today, and we have recently formed a new subsidiary, Lone Star Bison Co. in partnership with our friend, Austin businessman Richard Ganem, to market prepared foods.

In 1999 Reagan died in a tractor accident on the farm. Before his death, he often urged friends and acquaintances to "come see my buffaloes!" Sharing the grace and majesty of our buffalo is still a very important aspect of Lucky B Bison. A love of buffalo is not just for an intrinsically beautiful animal, but for his grit, his unique character, and true American spirit.

What does the future hold? We're optimistic that an increasingly health-conscious America will demand healthier foods, and we believe that American bison is just the ticket. With hard work and the Good Lord's help, Lucky B should be sharing the bounty of the bison for years to come.