I think I will remember 2013 as the summer of animal encounters. By the time we visited Northern Indiana’s Amish Country, we had already been licked by wolves and fed a bear cub in other places, so when we were asked by the visitors bureau if we’d like a close encounter with bison, we jumped at the chance. The visitors bureau arranged a complimentary tour of Cook’s Bison Ranch for us. This 83-acre farm is located in Wolcottville, Indiana, and raises bison to sell the meat, a healthy alternative to beef. Tours start in the gift shop where you can purchase t-shirts, bison collectibles, and frozen bison meat.
We also saw a bison head displayed on the wall. This is where reality sets in–this isn’t a petting zoo. Many of the animals you are about to meet are destined to become someone’s dinner. You might want to discuss that with your kids ahead of time, or at least be prepared to discuss if questions should arise.
Unless you are visiting as part of a group, plan your visit for a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tours are available between Memorial Day and Labor Day only and begin on the hour. Reservations are not required, but call ahead to make sure they aren’t closed for a private event. You’ll begin by watching a video and then have an opportunity to ask questions before you head out to meet the herd. Before you leave the gift shop, purchase a bag of food for $2.50 to feed to the bison. One bag should be plenty for your entire family. Then you’ll board a wagon and head out to the field.
We had seen bison on our visits to South Dakota and Wyoming, but we had never been this close to one before.
During the ride our guide taught us the proper method to feed the bison. You want to place the food pellet on top of their tongue and avoid putting your fingers below the tongue where the teeth are.
It isn’t difficult. Bison have LONG tongues.
Our guide pointed out which bison were the friendliest and safest to pet, and told us their names.
My daughters especially loved seeing the calves. They thought it was cute how they followed their mothers around.
They were beyond thrilled when one of the calves came up to the wagon.
Some of the bison, however, preferred to keep their distance.
The bison seemed to know when it was time to return back to the feeding pen and headed back.
After our wagon ride, we still had some food left and fed it to the bison that came up to the fence.
After you return from the field, you have the option to add on a meal for $8 per person. The meal includes a bison burger, chips, a drink, and a cookie. More information is available on the Cook’s Bison Ranch website.
My kids and I really enjoyed our visit with the bison. Would you like to pet a bison? Would you have a hard time eating a bison burger afterwards?
Ready to visit?
Cook’s Bison Ranch
5645 East 600 South
Wolcottville, IN 46795
Memorial Day – Labor Day
Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
$8 for adults
$6 for kids under 12
Disclosure: We received complimentary admission to this tour so that I could research and write this article. Many thanks to the Amish Country/Elkhart County Convention & Visitors Bureau for coordinating our trip.
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