Book: Bison, Portrait of an Icon

Bison: Portrait of an Icon

As a kid growing up in Florida, I collected coins, and was particularly fascinated by the buffalo nickel. The 1913 shiny coin featured a Native American on the front and the profile of a bison bull on the back—its engravings fueled my imagination of the West.

In Bison: Portrait of an Icon (Gibbs Smith, $50), Montana photographer Audrey Hall captures the beauty and spirit of America’s national mammal. She shares the story of her childhood, picnicking along the Lamar and Yellowstone rivers where she first saw herds of bison when fishing with her father. Hall’s dramatic photos portray the life of bison from newborns in May to the struggles digging for grass in deep winter snow.

To this day, bison are one of my favorite animals. On Earth Day I drove across the Lamar River Valley in Yellowstone National Park, where herds of buffalo numbering in the hundreds nibbled on budding prairie grasses and sagebrush. The image made me think of the essays in Hall’s book penned by Chase Reynolds Ewald and Henry Real Bird. Their words, accompanied by Hall’s stunning photography, not only celebrate this majestic animal, but tell the important story of efforts to restore it to the American West.